Minor league Rule 5 costs KC Royals 4 prospects

(Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports) /

It wasn’t as exciting as its major league counterpart, but the postponement of the big league Rule 5 draft made the minor league version the only game in town Wednesday. And while not many may have noticed, the KC Royals now have four fewer pitchers in their system.

Gone to other clubs are Grant Gavin, Luis De Avila, Robert Garcia, and Austin Lambright.

Gavin now belongs to the Padres, Atlanta took De Avila, Garcia is headed for Miami, and Lambright will join the Boston organization.

The minor league Rule 5 doesn’t mirror the major league Rule 5. Instead of having to fork out the $50,000 required to claim a player in the latter draft, clubs only have to pony up $24,500 for one in the former. And instead of having to keep a player drafted in the major league Rule 5 on the big league roster all season (subject to a limited Injury List exception), organizations don’t have to restrict minor league draftees to any roster.

The minor league Rule 5 draft pool consists of players eligible for the big league Rule 5 who aren’t on a club’s 38-man Triple-A roster. Because Triple-A Omaha’s roster stands at 38, Kansas City didn’t have a pick.

What did the Royals lose?

A hometown hurler apparently won’t pitch in the majors for the KC Royals.

Over five years have passed since Kansas City decided to give young college pitcher Grant Gavin a chance by selecting him in the 29th round of the 2016 amateur draft. Gavin was a hometown favorite—raised in nearby Platte County, Missouri, he pitched three seasons for the University of Central Missouri before the Royals picked and signed him.

Now, though, it looks like the righthander won’t get to the big leagues with Kansas City. The Padres grabbed him with the 10th pick in Wednesday’s Rule 5 draft.

That Gavin was available might be a bit of a surprise considering he was 5-3 with four saves and struck out 92 in 74.1 innings at Triple-A Omaha this season. But it wasn’t shocking—his 4.36 ERA was a bit much for a reliever and worse than the 3.61 he had at Double-A in 2019, and continued the upward trend he’s had since posting a 3.19 in 2018 after following his 2.01 at Rookie ball in 2016 with an even better combined 1.65 in stops at Low-A and High-A in 2017.

Another reliever is moving from the KC Royals to the Atlanta organization.

After pitching only briefly in the Kansas City system, lefthanded reliever Luis De Avila will be trying to make it to the World Champion Atlanta Braves next season. Atlanta took him with the ninth pick of Wednesday’s Rule 5 second round.

The Royals signed De Avila following his release from the Colorado organization after the 2019 season. Because the pandemic wiped out the 2020 minor league campaign, De Avila didn’t pitch in the KC system until this year; he went 5-4, 5.16 in 24 appearances at Low-A Columbia and 0-0, 3.38 in a short three-game injury rehab assignment with the Royals Gold Arizona Complex League club.

The KC Royals lost southpaw relief pitcher Robert Garcia to the Marlins.

Five second round picks before the Braves took De Avila, Miami selected fellow lefty reliever Robert Garcia. Kansas City’s 15th round pick in the 2017 amateur draft, Garcia pitched four seasons in the minors and leaves the Royals’ organization with an overall 10-12, 5.83 record.

He was 4-3 with one save and a high 5.63 ERA in 33 appearances at Northwest Arkansas this year.

Boston took another KC Royals lefthander in the first round of the draft.

Austin Lambright rounds out the four relievers Kansas City lost Wednesday. The Red Sox drafted him with the 19th pick of Round 1.

Overshadowed by other pitchers the Royals selected along with him in their 2018 haul of big-name pitchers (think Brady Singer, Kris Bubic, Daniel Lynch, Jackson Kowar, Jon Heasley, Zach Haake, Austin Cox and Jonathan Bowlan), Lambright was 2-5 with a 3.51 ERA in 49 relief appearances in the minors.

Expected to pitch at High-A Quad Cities in 2021, Lambright instead missed the entire season with an injury.

Next. Kaat, Oliva excelled against Royals. dark

The Royals lost four relief pitchers in Wednesday’s minor league Rule 5 draft.