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Rays lose RHP Sam McWilliams to Royals in the Rule 5 draft

Sam McWilliams

The Kansas City Royals have selected right handed SP Sam McWilliams from the Rays Triple-A roster with the second overall selection. A physically dominating presence on the mound, McWilliams was not projected to be ready as a starter, which is how the Rays planned to continue his development.

You can read our previous writing on McWilliams as a potential Rule 5 selection here.

Before the Winter Meetings, McWilliams was tabbed as one of the top-ten likely names to be selected in the Rule 5 draft in their preview article.

2. Sam McWilliams, RHP, Rays

McWIlliams has already been traded twice. A Phillies draft pick, he was shipped to Arizona in the Jeremy Hellickson trade and then was one of the players to be named acquired by the Rays in last offseason’s three-team Steven Souza-Brandon Drury trade. McWilliams is a big (6-foot-7) righthander who has always had a firm fastball (90-94 mph) and a solid slider, but he’s been improving his changeup to the point where it’s a viable third pitch. His stats at Double-A Montgomery were hurt by a ballooning home run rate, but at his best he shows the traits of a back-of-the-rotation starter.

The Rays were not eligible to select in the Rule 5 draft, as their 40-man roster was full.

McWilliams will have to remain on the Royals 25-man roster for all of 2019 to be retained, otherwise he will be returned to the Rays system.

Last year the Royals selected SP Burch Smith from the Rays Triple-A roster. He remained on the 25-man roster for all of 2018, but was designated for assignment at the end of the year. He has elected free agency.

Also included in the Baseball America top-ten names was Rays 2B prospect Kean Wong, who has left a significant impact on his teammates at the Triple-A level and has had two strong minor league post season performances. Wong was not drafted.

The Blue Jays, Dodgers, and Astros had two players selected among the 14 major league selections. Interestingly the White Sox, another strong farm system, had no players taken.