The Toronto Blue Jays were busy on Thursday as the MLB Rule 5 Draft took place at the winter meetings in Las Vegas.
Toronto selected 10th in the draft, but with the San Diego Padres having a full 40-man roster, the Blue Jays were able to move up one spot. With that pick, they selected right-hander Elvis Luciano from the Kansas City Royals.
Luciano, 18, was originally signed to a minor-league contract by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2016. He was shipped to the Royals in June as part of a deal that sent outfielder Jon Jay to the D-Backs.
The pick is an intriguing one for the Blue Jays. The youngster will turn 19 before opening day, but will undoubtedly become the youngest pitcher to ever appear for the Jays – Roberto Osuna currently holds that distinction after making his debut at 20 years and 60 days.
However, because of his age, Luciano has never played above rookie league.
In 2018, he fashioned a 5-5 record with a 3.90 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in 67 innings – 12 starts. The Jays will likely stash the youngster in hopes of keeping him around as a long-term project. Joe Biagini was the last Jays pick of note in the Rule 5 Draft. He made 60 appearances for the team back in 2016, however, he was also eight years older than Luciano currently is.
In the triple-A portion of the draft, the Jays selected righty David Garner from the Chicago Cubs’ system. Garner was a seventh-round pick of the Cubs in 2013.
The 26-year-old has managed to steadily work his way through the system over the years. In 2017, he put together a 4-3 record with a 3.25 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, and three saves across 44 1/3 innings split between double- and triple-A.
However, Garner missed the entire 2018 campaign after being suspended on two separate occasions for violations for “drugs of abuse.”
He was suspended for 50 games on March 23 for his second violation. He would be suspended for a third violation on June 7. The third strike carried a 100-game suspension with it.
While the Jays were able to add some arms, they also lost three pitchers.
Canadian Jordan Romano was the first of the Jays’ prospects to leave the board. He was selected by the Chicago White Sox with the third pick in the draft.
The 25-year-old was working out at the Rogers Centre when he received news of his selection, according to Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi. Romano was Toronto’s 28th-ranked prospect.
In 26 starts this past season, Romano was 12-8 with a 4.11 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and 8.1 K/9 over 142 1/3 innings split between double-A New Hampshire and triple-A Buffalo.
Just one pick before the Jays selected Luciano, they lost another pitcher in Trevor Bergen, who spent the majority of 2018 in double-A. He put together a fantastic season in New Hampshire, posting a 0.50 ERA and a near sub-1.00 WHIP in 27 relief appearances.
Toronto also lost Sam Moll in the triple-A portion of the draft. He played 11 games in the majors for the Oakland Athletics in 2017, but was an arm in triple-A after being claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays in March. The southpaw spent the majority of 2018 on the disabled list and only pitched 18 2/3 innings.