San Diego, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Arizona Diamondbacks selected catcher Oscar Hernandez of the Tampa Bay Rays organization with the first pick in Major League Baseball's annual Rule 5 Draft on Thursday.
Hernandez, 21, had been in the Rays' system since signing as a 16-year-old out of Venezuela. He appeared in 94 games for Single-A Bowling Green last season and batted .249 with nine home runs and 63 RBI.
He may have put together one of the greatest Venezuelan Summer League seasons anyone will ever see in 2011, hitting .402/.503/.732 with 21 home runs. Hernandez led the league in batting average by 38 points, home runs by 13, slugging percentage by .238 points, total bases by 37 and on-base percentage by 39 points.
Hernandez, though, has never come anywhere close to matching those numbers and isn't fully polished behind the plate
There were 14 players taken in the major league phase of the draft on Thursday. If those players do not sign with their new team, they must be offered back to their original team, effectively canceling the Rule 5 Draft choice.
However, once they spend an entire season on their new team's 25-man roster, their status reverts to normal and they may be optioned or designated for assignment.
Of course, several players have succeeded through the Rule 5 Draft in the past, most notably Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente, two-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana and 2010 AL MVP Josh Hamilton. Other prominent players selected through the Rule 5 Draft include pitchers Joakim Soria, Matt Mantei and Antonio Alfonseca, as well as second baseman Dan Uggla and outfielders George Bell, Willy Taveras and Shane Victorino.
Players who are not currently on their team's 40-man roster are eligible to be taken in this draft, but only after a standard exemption period has elapsed. Also, only teams whose rosters are under the 40-man limit are eligible to participate.
A player who is 18 when he's signed can spend five seasons in an organization before he has to be protected. Anyone who is 19 or older must be protected after four years. Once past that time of service, a player must be put on the 40-man roster if that team wants to keep him from becoming eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.
MAJOR LEAGUE PHASE
1. Arizona Diamondbacks: C Oscar Hernandez, Rays
2. Colorado Rockies: IF Mark Canha, Marlins (Traded to Oakland)
3. Texas Rangers: OF Delino DeShields Jr., Astros
4. Houston Astros: RHP Jason Garcia, Red Sox (Traded to Baltimore)
5. Minnesota Twins: RHP J.R. Graham, Braves
6. Boston Red Sox: RHP Jandel Gustave, Astros (Traded to Kansas City)
7. Chicago Cubs: SS Taylor Featherston, Rockies (Traded to LA Angels)
8. Philadelphia Phillies: IF David Herrera, Rangers
9. Miami Marlins: LHP Andrew McKirahan, Cubs
10. New York Mets: LHP Sean Gilmartin, Twins
11. Atlanta Braves: RHP Daniel Winkler, Rockies
12. Seattle Mariners: LHP David Rollins, Astros
13. Baltimore Orioles: RHP Logan Verrett, Mets
14. Philadelphia Phillies: LHP Andrew Oliver, Pittsburgh