The Blue Jays selected 10th in the 2018 Rule 5 draft but the first news of Toronto’s Rule 5 action was the Jays losing righthanded pitcher Jordan Romano as the third pick in the draft. Romano, from Markham, Ontario, was overlooked when the Blue Jays added players to the 40-man roster last month despite adding five pitchers to the 40-man. Romano spent the bulk of 2018 with the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Romano, 25, was 11-8 for the Fisher Cats with a 4.13 ERA and 1.19 WHIP and had a 1-0 record in his one start with the Buffalo Bisons last year and he missed all of 2015 with Tommy John surgery.
Romano, always a friend to Blue Jays from Away, will be missed although we wish him the best of luck pursuing his major league dreams with the White Sox.
UPDATE: Jordan was traded by the White Sox to the Texas Rangers for cash considerations. All of the usual Rule 5 details remain in place: Romano needs to remain on the 25-man roster and be active for at least 90 days of the season, now with the Rangers, or he must be offered back to the Blue Jays.
Also being selected before the Blue Jays even got a chance to pick was lefty reliever Travis Bergen, going to the San Francisco Giants. Bergen, 25, was the Blue Jays’ best minor league reliever in 2018, posting a 0.50 ERA and 0.98 WHIP over 35 2/3 innings with New Hampshire (after starting the year out striking out 31 in 21 innings with Dunedin), striking out 43 and walking only nine batters. Bergen was another pitcher bound to garner interest from teams in the Rule 5 draft after such a stellar season, really coming to his own after struggling through three injury-plagued seasons after being drafted in the seventh round in 2015.
The Blue Jays made a selection at the 10th pick, picking Elvis Luciano, an 18-year-old righthanded pitcher from the Kansas City Royals’ Rookie-League Idaho Falls Chukars. I’m not entirely sure how this is going to work. Luciano, from Boca Chica, Dominican Republic, has only been a professional for two years, pitching for a year in the Diamondbacks’ organization as a 17-year-old in 2017, tossing 56 innings with Burlington in the Appalachian League, posting a 4.66 ERA and 1.34 WHIP, striking out 56 and walked 20.
Again, it’s a strange pick for the Blue Jays. Do they expect an 18-year-old righty who had a 4.66 ERA in Rookie Ball to stick at the major league level? Luciano does have stuff, sitting 92–94 mph, touching 95, with an inconsistent curveball that did get swings and misses. Some say that he has a ceiling of throwing 95-97 mph when he fills out.
Still, at the age of 19 when the 2019 season starts, Luciano might not be a fit for the Blue Jays’ bullpen. One thought could be that the Jays trade Luciano back to the Royals for another minor leaguer that they might not value as highly, but that only becomes a real option if Luciano shows the potential to stick in the majors.
UPDATE: It would seem that the Blue Jays clearly have plans to give Luciano a chance to make the 2019 roster, pitching out of the bullpen, as Shi Davidi explained over at Sportsnet.
In the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft, the Jays selected righty David Garner from the Chicago Cubs. Garner, 26, split the 2017 season between Double-A and Triple-A for the Cubs, excelling in Double-A, tossing 31 innings with a 2.61 ERA and 1.29 WHIP, striking out 37 with 17 walks although he struggled in Triple-A, with a 4.73 ERA and 1.88 WHIP in 13 1/3 innings, striking out 14 and walking eight.
Garner started out the 2018 season sitting for 50 games after being suspended for 50 games after testing positive for a “drug of abuse” and he was suspended for a further 100 games later in 2018 for a third positive test for drugs.
The Blue Jays also lost Sam Moll to the San Francisco Giants in the minor league phase of the draft. Moll, who made his big league debut, throwing 6 2/3 innings with the Oakland A’s in 2017, Moll spent 2018 with Buffalo, but only threw 18 2/3 innings with a 5.30 ERA and 1.55 WHIP, striking out 18 and walking five.
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