With the fourth overall selection of the Rule 5 draft the Rays selected RHP Kevin Gadea from the Seattle Mariners. The Rays went off the board with a pitcher that wasn’t covered in the Baseball America expanded Rule 5 preview, which covered 82 players including 52 pitchers.
Gadea has yet to start a season in full season ball, but earned a promotion to the Clifton Lumberkings (A) this past season. For the season he threw 68.2 innings and accumulated 95 strikeouts (34.2%) with only 14 walks (5.0%).
After signing with the Mariners in the 2012 IFA signing period Baseball America had this to say about Gadea:
One sleeper for the Mariners could be Kevin Gadea, who signed on July 2 for $42,000 out of Dennis Martinez's academy in Nicaragua. Gadea, who turned 18 in December, became eligible to sign on July 2, 2011, but he had originally been a third baseman. Mariners Nicaraguan scout Luis Molina suggested putting him on the mound, and Gadea's shown some early promise there. Gadea is 6-foot-5 with a live arm and good breaking ball potential.
He’s currently pitching for the Tigres de Aragua in the Venezuelan Winter League. and is showcasing a dominant performance. He’s thrown 30 innings over six starts with a 2.10 ERA; however, his 20 K/15 BB hasn’t been up to his stateside standards.
Gadea will have to survive the season in the bullpen for the Rays to keep him. He will face a massive increase in competition if he is to stick.
The Rays scouts might have been intrigued about Gadea from evaluating prospects for the Richie Shaffer/Taylor Motter trade earlier this off-season. He has the size you like to see in a pitcher, but there aren’t many reports on his stuff.
So grateful with the @RaysBaseball for giving me the chance to compete and achieve my goals. #newfamily#Rays— Kevin gadea (@kevin_gadea32) December 8, 2016
Gadea turned 22 years old this week, and is mostly a fastball and change up pitcher that, should he throw for strikes, may be able to hold his own in the bullpen.
The Rays scouts reportedly followed his story for a while, and they felt his ability was beyond his years, leading the Rays to prize his youth.
Tampa Bay will have to pay $100,000 for the acquisition of Gadea, and he will need to remain on the team’s 25-man roster all season, or else he will be returned to the Mariners under Rule 5 rules.