Indians Select Milner from Phillies, Lose Five in Rule 5 Draft

The annual Winter Meetings concluded on Thursday morning with the Rule 5 draft. In the Major League phase, the Cleveland Indians selected left-handed pitcher Hoby Milner from the Philadelphia Phillies organization with the 27th pick (15th overall) of the first round to fill one of two vacancies on the 40-man roster.

The Indians lost one player in the Major League portion of the draft and four more during the Triple-A portion. Outfield prospect Anthony Santander, last with the Indians’ High-A Lynchburg Hillcats affiliate, was selected by Baltimore in the second round of the draft with the Orioles’ second Major League selection. Cleveland also lost pitchers Trevor Frank (San Diego) and Jon Fitzsimmons (Arizona) early in the first round of the Triple-A portion of the draft and relievers Grant Sides (Arizona) and Nick Maronde (Miami) in the second round.

Milner, who will turn 26 in mid-January, was taken by the Philadelphia Phillies in the seventh round of the 2012 draft out of the University of Texas at Austin. He was previously picked by the Washington Nationals in the 44th round of the 2009 draft.

He spent five years in the Phillies farm system, working primarily as a starter over the course of his first three professional seasons. He moved to the bullpen in 2015, going 2-1 in 30 games (three starts) with a 3.52 ERA and 1.25 WHIP while pitching at the High-A and Double-A levels.

He returned to Double-A Reading last season after two quick appearances at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, going 5-3 with the Fightin’ Phils with five saves, a 1.84 ERA, and 1.08 WHIP in 38 appearances. He was also named to the Eastern League’s mid-season All-Star team for the second time in the last three years. He wrapped up the season with nine more games of work with the IronPigs, going 0-1 with one save, a 4.50 ERA, and a 1.19 WHIP in his eleven total Triple-A appearances.

For the year, Milner held a 2.49 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP while averaging 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings and 5.07 strikeouts per walk. He lowered his arm slot last season to more of a sidearm delivery, which he feels has helped his four pitches – a fastball, cutter, curve, and changeup.

The selection of Milner cost the Indians $100,000. He must remain on the Indians’ active roster all season long. If the Indians look to move him to the minors, he must be offered back to the Phillies for a cost of $50,000 unless a trade can be worked out to retain his rights. He will head to Goodyear for Spring Training with an opportunity to win a role in the team’s bullpen, one that lacks much left-handed relief depth behind Andrew Miller. Kyle Crockett is the senior in-house lefty on the depth chart behind Miller and is joined by waiver claim Edwin Escobar.

As for the minor leaguers lost, the biggest name was Santander, who was healthy for a full season for the first time in his professional career, which led to some intriguing numbers from the 22-year-old switch-hitter who was taken with the second of two picks in the second round.

The Venezuelan-born Santander wrapped up his fifth pro season in the minors for Cleveland with his best year overall in his first season at the High-A level. He appeared in a career-high 128 games, hitting 42 doubles and 20 homers while driving in 95 runs. He slashed .290/.368/.494 over the course of the season for the Hillcats.

He had previously spent a season in the Arizona Rookie League before spending parts of the 2013, 2014, and 2015 seasons with the Class-A Lake County Captains, when healthy enough to reach the field. He also saw eight games of action last year with the short-season Mahoning Valley Scrappers during his time in the Cleveland organization.

As with Milner for the Indians, the Orioles will have to keep Santander on the Major League active roster for the season or offer him back to the Indians.

Cleveland also lost four pitchers from the minor league portion of the Rule 5.

Frank was selected by the San Diego Padres with the second overall pick of the Triple-A portion of the draft. The 25-year-old pitcher was an eighth round pick by Cleveland in the 2013 draft out of UC Riverside. He has worked exclusively as a reliever in the Indians farm system, spending 2013 at Mahoning Valley, 2014 with Lake County, 2015 with Lynchburg and the Indians’ rookie league team in Arizona, and last season entirely at Lynchburg.

The right-hander went 1-1 with a 2.47 ERA, a 0.92 WHIP, and a .191 batting average against. He saved 17 games in 19 opportunities and struck out 43 batters with just ten walks in 43 2/3 innings.

Fitzsimmons was taken fifth by the Arizona Diamondbacks. The 25-year-old right-hander out of London, Ontario, Canada, made just ten appearances in the Indians organization after signing with the club as a minor league free agent on August 5 after spending 2013 and 2014 pitching with the rookie level Idaho Falls Chukars (Kansas City) of the Pioneer League.

He showed off some impressive strikeout work in his limited efforts, setting down 25 on Ks in 16 1/3 innings. That total included all six outs retired in his debut effort on August 7 and all seven outs on September 2. The reliever earned a promotion to High-A Lynchburg ahead of the Carolina League playoffs.

Sides was selected by the Diamondbacks with the second pick of the second round.

The 27-year-old righty was picked by the Indians in the 12th round in the 2011 draft out of Samford. He spent the entire 2016 season at Double-A Akron, where he was 2-1 in 42 relief appearances with three saves in four chances. He struck out 69 batters in 61 2/3 innings and held opposing hitters to a .190 average. He was named as a replacement on the Western Division All-Star team during the Eastern League’s midsummer classic, the first All-Star selection of his six-year pro career.

Three picks later, Maronde was taken by the Miami Marlins. The left-hander entered the pro circuit after he was selected by the Los Angeles Angels in the third round of the 2011 draft. The 27-year-old was traded to the Cleveland organization in 2014 for a player to be named later, but was designated for assignment and outrighted off of the 40-man roster that December.

He has split the last two seasons between Akron and Triple-A Columbus. He made 17 appearances (two starts) for the Clippers in 2016, earning no decisions and one save while posting a 4.24 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP. With the RubberDucks, he was 0-1 in 21 relief appearances, earning four saves in five chances while posting a 2.19 ERA and 1.09 WHIP.

Maronde spent time in the Majors in 2012, 2013, and 2014 with the Angels, playing in 33 games without a decision with a 7.13 ERA and 2.26 WHIP.

Photo: CBS Philly

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