KC selects Lugo, sends him to Mariners
Royals lose De La Vara, take three in Minor League Rule 5
LAS VEGAS -- Pitcher Jose Lugo's stay with the Royals lasted about a half-hour on Thursday after the club selected him in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft at the Winter Meetings.
The Royals took Lugo, a left-handed reliever, from the Minnesota Twins' organization and immediately traded him to the Seattle Mariners for cash considerations.
"We didn't have a guy that we felt fit with what we needed for our own selection," said Royals assistant general manager J.J. Picollo. "We were approached by a couple of teams about them trading up, so we just took advantage of it."
The Royals lost one player, left-handed reliever Gilbert De La Vara, in the Major League portion of the Draft to the Houston Astros. De La Vara was 3-0 with a 2.76 ERA in 21 games last season for Double-A Northwest Arkansas and 3-3 with a 3.65 ERA in 24 games for Class A Wilmington.
"I'm not surprised we lost him," Picollo said. "There's a market out there for left-handed relievers."
Even though veteran right-hander Brandon Duckworth was exposed to the Draft, he was not taken. Good thing for the Royals, because he figures as a possible starter or middle reliever next season.
"I'm happy that he slipped through, because we need him," Picollo said.
The Royals drafted three players in the Triple-A phase -- right-handed pitcher Luis Ortega from Washington, catcher John Suomi from Philadelphia and right-handed pitcher Carlos Arias from Cleveland.
Suomi, 28, could figure in the catching plans for Triple-A Omaha or in Double-A. A left-handed batter, he hit .236 in 32 games for Double-A Reading and .244 in 24 games for Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
"Our catching depth in our organization is something we have to address," Picollo said. "He's another guy to bring in and give us some depth."
Ortega, 21, was released by Atlanta but did well in the Dominican Summer League this year for the Nationals, notching 84 strikeouts in 75 innings.
"He had real good numbers ... our scouts down there had a chance to see him pitch and his velocity jumped up," Picollo said.
"He pitched in the New York-Penn League, and our reports are a big fastball -- he's up to 94 or 95 [mph] -- and he throws strikes," Picollo said.
The Royals lost right-handed reliever Russ Haltiwanger in the Triple-A phase to St. Louis. He was 4-1 with a 3.83 ERA in 35 games for Northwest Arkansas.
The purchase price in the Triple-A phase is $12,000 per player.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.