A's pick up Hernandez in Rule 5 Draft
Oakland bolsters pitching staff with right-handed reliever
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- With setup man Justin Duchscherer expected to move into the starting rotation in 2008, the A's will spend part of their offseason looking for relief help.
They got some Thursday in the Rule 5 Draft on the final day of the Winter Meetings, selecting righty Fernando Hernandez from the White Sox organization with the ninth pick in the Major League phase of the Draft.
Fernandez, 23, spent the 2007 season at Double-A Birmingham of the Southern League and posted a 3.06 ERA in 60 appearances, striking out 84 with 23 walks and holding opponents to a .230 batting average.
That earned him a spot in the prestigious Arizona Fall League, where he dominated some of the top prospects in the game. Hernandez, whose fastball tops out in the low 90s, made 12 appearances for the Phoenix Desert Dogs and didn't allow an earned run, striking out 11 with four walks and a .117 opponents batting average.
"We had really good reports on him," said A's assistant general manager David Forst. "We have some holes in our bullpen, and hopefully he can stick."
If Hernandez does stick, the A's will have to keep him on their 25-man roster for the duration of the 2008 season; if they don't, Hernandez has to be offered back to Chicago for $25,000 -- half of what Oakland spent to pick him.
"He's got good command and good poise," Forst said. "He shouldn't be too daunted on the Major League roster."
Last winter, the A's selected lefty Jay Marshall from the White Sox organization in the Rule 5 Draft, and Marshall did stick with the team all year. But after posting a 6.43 ERA in 51 appearances, Marshall was waived after the season and picked up by the Red Sox.
"We were hoping to keep him," Forst said of Marshall, who hadn't pitched above Class A ball before joining the A's. "But you can't predict the waiver wire."
The A's didn't lose any players in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft, and while they lost three prospects in the Triple-A phase -- righty Ben Fritz and outfielder Luke Appert and infielder Brant Colamarino -- they added three pitchers, all righties, in the same phase: Jose Fragoso from the Detroit organization, Jose Rojas from Cincinnati and Scott Mitchinson from Philadelphia.
"We lost three and got three," Forst said. "So, I guess it's a wash."
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.