With the 6th overall selection in the Rule 5 Draft, the New York Mets acquired RHP Burch Smith from the Tampa Bay Rays, and have traded him to the Kansas City Royals for a PTBNL or cash considerations.
Smith, 27, has some major league experience under his belt, making his debut during the 2014 season. He made 10 appearances (7 starts, 3 in relief) for the San Diego Padres that season, but was shutdown towards the end of the year with a forearm strain. The following off-season, he would be included in a trade that brought Wil Myers to San Diego, as he was packaged with several others and sent to Tampa Bay.
While in spring training with the Rays, Smith was in contention for the starting rotation when his injury flared up again and this time resulted in him undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Smith would spend all of the 2015 and 2016 seasons on the disabled list, before returning halfway through the 2017 campaign in the low minors. Smith would make his way up to Triple-A before the season concluded, but did not receive the call to the majors. The Rays sent him to the Arizona Fall League in November to allow Smith to continue to build up his arm strength, where he heavily impressed.
Baseball America had Smtih pegged as the top player likely to be selected in the draft.
Smith missed all of 2015 and 2016 recovering from Tommy John surgery but came back looking like the player who was once an intriguing prospect. Both at the end of the season at Triple-A Durham and in the Arizona Fall League, Smith sat 94-96 mph with his fastball, flashed a knee-buckling 74-76 mph curveball and showed a swing-and-miss 79-81 mph changeup. Though he’s 27 and has had serious arm health issues, Smith is major league ready and has the stuff to help a team as a back-end starter or move to the bullpen.
Burch Smith was the only player to be selected from the Rays roster, while the Rays themselves stood pat during the major league portion of the draft.
On the minor league side, where organization fillers can be taken freely by other teams, the Rays lost three players while acquiring one:
German is a Dominican native who signed for $200k in 2013. He returned from a 2015 injury to a limited 2016, which has limited his reps in the rookie leagues. Used mainly as a starter, he could go either way. He showcased a mid-90s fastball at age-20 season last year, his first season breaking into Low-A baseball in his four year career.
You can watch video of the new arm here:
As for the players taken:
#Rays lose INF Riley Unroe in minor league portion of Rule 5 draft— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) December 14, 2017
Unroe was a second round draft pick from 2013 who put up his best showing in the Australian Baseball winter league in 2015. He graduated to Double-A in 2017 but was demoted in August back to High-A.
Angel Moreno, signed for $188k, formerly had a top-50 prospect profile but has struggled to hit when promoted above Low-A.
Lorenzo was signed by Rays for $250K and was a darkhorse for the system’s top-50 prospects this year. 2017 was his first season outside of rookie ball.