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Rays lose Tissenbaum, add pitching in minor league Rule 5 Draft

The Rays lost some catching depth, but they added some arms to the organization

Adam Kolarek became a groundball beast in 2015
Adam Kolarek became a groundball beast in 2015
Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

While much of the attention was on the major league portion of Thursday's Rule 5 Draft, and rightfully so, there was an unusual amount of movement in the two minor league phases.

The minor league phases -- Triple-A and Double-A -- are so inside baseball that you almost need a stronger metaphor. Baseball America offered a little primer on them a couple years ago:

In the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft, teams may select any eligible player left off the major league 40-man roster or the Triple-A reserve roster of 38 players. In the Double-A phase of the draft, teams may select any eligible player left off the major league roster, the Triple-A reserve roster or the Double-A reserve roster of 37 players. In other words, a player selected in the Triple-A phase does not rank among his organization’s top 78 talents, and a Double-A selection does not rank among its top 115.

It costs a team $12,000 to draft a player in the Triple-A phase and $4,000 in the Double-A phase.

Future major leaguers being selected in these phases are rare, although the Marlins are probably satisfied with their selection of Justin Bour two years ago.

To be honest, I'm a little unclear myself on which minor leaguers have to be placed on these reserve lists. In the Professional Baseball agreement, there are reserve lists for lower-level affiliates too, so I'm not sure if someone like Garrett Whitley has to be on the Triple-A or Double-A lists already.

Regardless, Maxx Tissenbaum is now with the Marlins. Acquired along with Brad Boxberger, Matt Andriese, Logan Forsythe and Matt Lollis in the trade that sent Alex Torres and Jesse Hahn to the Padres, the 24-year-old converted from second base to catcher when arriving in the organization and batted .275 with a .331 on-base percentage and .365 slugging percentage in two seasons with Class A-Advanced Charlotte.

The Rays were active themselves, taking three pitchers: Adam Kolarek from the Orioles, Yoel Espinal from the Yankees, and Fernando Baez from the Cardinals.

Kolarek, a 26-year-old lefty and Baltimore native, never threw a pitch in the Orioles organization. He was signed to a minor league deal in October after spending six seasons in the Mets organization, briefly reaching Triple A. In 351 innings in his career, he has 349 strikeouts and a 3.56 earned-run average.

His groundball rate was 62.3% in 2015, which is much higher than his rate in previous seasons. The Rays may have some familiarity with him because he's pitching on the same Puerto Rican pitching staff as Edrick Agosto and Jesus Ortiz, a pair of Rays prospects.

Espinal, 23, has pitched for the Tigers and Yankees and briefly reached full-season ball in 2015. The Yankees gave him a shot after seeing him at an area showcase when he showed some mid-90s velocity. In two seasons pitching in the U.S., the Dominican has 95 strikeouts and 79 walks in 99 1/3 innings.

Baez, who is also 23, is a former catcher but converted to the mound after two seasons in the Dominican Summer League. He pitched for Class-A Peoria in 2015, and in 153 career innings, he has 186 strikeouts and 97 walks.

Enderson Franco, a pitcher who originally came to the Rays in the minor league Rule 5 Draft and was traded to the Marlins in 2015, was on the move again, being selected by Atlanta.