ChiSox lefty selected No. 1 in Rule 5

ChiSox lefty selected No. 1 in Rule 5

DALLAS -- The first pick of the Major League phase of Thursday's Rule 5 draft was Fabio Castro, a diminutive left-handed pitcher in the Chicago White Sox system.

Although the Kansas City Royals took Castro with the No. 1 pick, there are strong indications they will not hold onto him. It is very likely they will trade the pick to another team originally slated to pick later on in the draft.

Castro stands just 5-foot-8 and tips the scale at just under 160 pounds, raising some questions about his durability. But there are no questions about his ability to throw strikes. Castro, who will turn 21 next month, throws a fastball, curve and changeup, all for strikes. Scouts say his stuff is solid average across the board, above-average at times. But he fits the description of many lefties: a guy who throws strikes and knows how to pitch.

Coming out of the bullpen for Winston-Salem in the Class A Carolina League, Castro posted a 2.28 ERA in 79 innings, yielding just 58 hits (for a .209 batting average against) and striking out 75. He finished the season with 11 straight appearances without allowing an earned run. For his career, including his first summer in the Dominican Summer League, Castro is 26-12 with 19 saves and a 2.28 ERA. He's rung up 292 strikeouts in 261 innings.

Castro could fit right into a team's bullpen, but he could have the stuff -- if not the stamina -- to slide into the back end of a rotation.

There was considerable buzz, at least by Rule 5 standards, about the top pick, with several teams calling on the Royals to deal for Castro's services. It's believed the talent pool dips considerably after the left-hander.

Who else will follow Castro in the Major League phase? That's still somewhat of a mystery. But the following team-by-team look at who might be active and who they might take hopefully provides some insight.

Remember, these are players not protected on the 40-man roster, meaning that for one reason or another, their original organization is prepared to lose them. A player taken in the Major League phase of the draft costs $50,000 and has to remain on the selecting team's 25-man roster all season or be offered back to the original team for $25,000.

1. Kansas City Royals
Roster status: 38

What they'll do: As stated above, the Royals will use the first pick in a trade with another organization eager to bring Fabio Castro into the fold.

Who they could lose: The one intriguing name is Mitch Maier, a first-round pick in 2003. Even after faltering in Double-A (.255 in 80 games), he has a .297 career average and experience as a catcher, third baseman, and most recently, an outfielder.

2. Colorado Rockies
Roster status: 40

What they'll do: Right at 40 at the Major League level (and even fairly tight at the Minor League levels), the Rockies aren't planning to be very active during the draft. They looked at four or five names but none seriously enough to clear space on their 40-man to take.

Who they could lose: The Rockies were concerned they would lose pitcher Manny Corpas, a reliever who pitched in the California League in 2005, so they added him to the 40-man roster at the last minute. No one else really stands out as someone to keep an eye on.

3. Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Roster status: 39

What they'll do: They've got a spot open and they've not hesitated to take Rule 5 picks in the past (Jorge Sosa, for example). But word in the lobby was that they were looking to trade the pick.

Who they could lose: The two names being mentioned are Jason Pridie, an outfielder who showed pop a couple of years back and plays an outstanding defensive center field and John Jaso, a catcher-first baseman-DH type. Jaso's a project, having played in the Midwest League in 2005, and he won't be able to catch until at least May. But he did show power (.515 slugging) and plate discipline (.383 OBP) in 332 at-bats, all from the left side.

4. Pittsburgh Pirates
Roster status: 40

What they'll do: Despite being at 40, even with the trades they've made, there were signs the Pirates were planning to make room for a Rule 5 plunge. Who they'd move off to make room remains to be seen.

Who they could lose: There won't be any kind of losses suffered like those in 2003. The Pirates likely will go unscathed in the Major League phase, or at least they are not overly concerned by anyone they could lose.

5. Seattle Mariners
Roster status: 40

What they'll do: Full up on the Major League roster, it's not expected the Mariners will do anything, at least not in the Major League phase.

Who they could lose: No one really jumps out, though Francisco Cruceta was not so long ago a highly regarded prospect in the Indians system.

6. Detroit Tigers
Roster status: 39

What they'll do: They've got room for one, they're still enjoying the success story of Chris Shelton and they've taken as many as three players in the Major League phase in one draft in the past. So they definitely could pick up some help here, even if there isn't a Shelton-like bat available.

Who they could lose: David Espinosa is a former first-round pick (2000) who's still young (he'll turn 24 next week). He's never lived up to the promise of when he was a first-rounder and has since moved to the outfield, but he had an OK AFL season and showed a power spike with 19 homers in Double-A in 2004.

7. Los Angeles Dodgers
Roster status: 38

What they'll do: The Dodgers have not shied away from Rule 5 selections in the past, most recently with D.J. Houlton. With two spots open, they've got room. That being said, with all the other things on their front-burner in the organization (GM, manager, Furcal), they haven't been focusing on the draft and probably won't be too active in the selection process.

Who they could lose: The Dodgers have done a good job of keeping their top talent protected, but there are a couple of interesting left-handed arms who would be reaches but are intriguing. Jonathan Figueroa's career has stalled in Vero Beach because of injuries and command issues, but the fact he held lefties to a .153 batting average in 2005 has specialist written all over it. Luis Gonzalez already is a reliever and had a 2.21 ERA with Jacksonville this year, keeping left-handed hitters to a .183 batting average.

8. Cincinnati Reds
Roster status: 40

What they'll do: The Reds were full at 40 but recently released Randy Keisler to open a spot, so they can be active in the Major League phase.

Who they could lose: While the Reds have their usual collection of one-time pitching prospects who have been felled by injuries (Bobby Basham and Thomas Pauly, for example), the guy who might be the most interesting comes on the offensive end. Kevin Howard can play second and third, he hit .296 in Double-A in 2005 with 12 homers, 70 RBIs and 13 steals, then went to the AFL and hit .409 to win the batting title there.

9. Baltimore Orioles
Roster status: 39

What they'll do: The O's do have a spot open if they decide after going over their lists on Wednesday night that someone jumps out.

Who they could lose: Everyone who would've had some value in the Rule 5 has been duly protected by the organization, so it appears the O's are safe.

10. San Francisco Giants
Roster status: 39

What they'll do: They've got a spot open, but they haven't been big Rule 5 players in the past.

Who they could lose: The Giants don't have much to offer other organizations, though Billy Sadler's name has been mentioned by some.

11. Arizona Diamondbacks
Roster status: 36

What they'll do: Even though they have plenty of room on their 40-man, it doesn't look like the Diamondbacks will take anyone in the Major League phase.

Who they could lose: The D-Backs have one of deepest and most interesting lists of eligibles. There seems to be some consensus that infielder Dan Uggla and newly turned reliever Casey Daigle will find new homes. Lefty Bill Murphy and outfielder Jarred Ball are two more intriguing names to throw in the hat.

12. Texas Rangers
Roster status: 36

What they'll do: The Rangers have plenty of room on their 40-man and are seriously considering dipping their feet into the Rule 5 waters in the Major League phase (they'll almost certainly make some Minor League phase picks). They planned on finalizing their wish lists on Wednesday night.

Who they could lose: There's been a fair amount of action on a few of the Rangers' players, but none has gotten more Rule 5 buzz than Drew Meyer. The former first-rounder (No. 10 overall in 2002) went through this process a year ago and wasn't taken. He took that as a wakeup call and hit .321 in Double-A while showing defensive versatility at second and short. Other possibilities are pitcher John Hudgins or first baseman Vince Sinisi.

13. Chicago Cubs
Roster status: 38

What they'll do: The trade for Juan Pierre freed up a couple of spots on the roster, but it does not appear that they will be active on Thursday.

Who they could lose: It's usually Cubs pitchers who seem the most tempting come Rule 5 time (Andy Sisco) -- and there are some interesting names -- but it's first baseman Brandon Sing who's getting the most attention. A streaky hitter, Sing has the best power bat among the Rule 5 eligibles, with 58 homers the last two years in two pitching-friendly leagues.

14. Toronto Blue Jays
Roster status: 40

What they'll do: After the big moves at the Major League level, the Jays probably want to stop and take a breath. They're pretty locked up on the 40-man, so they don't figure to be players on Thursday.

Who they could lose: There are a couple of talented players who are eligible, but the Jays feel they did a good job of protecting all the players they needed to heading into the draft.

15. Washington Nationals
Roster status: 40

What they'll do: The Nats won't be participating in the Major League phase of the draft.

Who they could lose: The Nationals have everyone they would fear losing safely protected on the 40-man roster, so there are no concerns on their part about losing someone vital to the organization's future.

16. Milwaukee Brewers
Roster status: 39

What they'll do: The Brewers will likely sit the Major League phase out this year.

Who they could lose: There have been a couple of names who have been mentioned as possibile selections: lefty Mitch Stetter and former Rule 5 pick Enrique Cruz.

17. San Diego Padres
Roster status: 32

What they'll do: Look for the Padres to be active. There was talk they were the team trading up to get the No. 1 pick from the Royals, and they may not be done after that. It's an interesting subplot of the Rule 5. Often, a scouting executive moves to another organization and is eager to pluck some of the Minor Leaguers from his old system. Most trying to connect the dots are putting Drew Meyer in a Padres uniform.

Who they could lose: When you have eight open spots on your 40-man roster, you're clearly not concerned about losing anyone.

18. New York Mets
Roster status: 39

What they'll do: Carrying a Rule 5 pick all year in New York is always a long shot. So even with a spot open, it'd be surprising to see the Mets be active.

Who they could lose: The Mets have a couple of guys who could fit the lefty specialist mode: Evan MacLane, who went to the AFL, and Blake McGinley, who went through the Rule 5 gauntlet last year and wasn't selected.

19. Florida Marlins
Roster status: 36

What they'll do: Hmmm, a chance to pick up some help at the Major League level at a bargain price? Think the Marlins will be active? They should be.

Who they could lose: Pretty much anyone of value is already on the 40-man roster, though a team could take a chance on a guy like Lincoln Holdzkom, who's got a great arm but has rarely been healthy.

20. Minnesota Twins
Roster status: 39

What they'll do: The Twins have certainly used the Rule 5 to their advantage in the past and are almost always active in the Major League phase. They've got room right now for one pick.

Who they could lose: The Twins appear to have done a good job in protecting who they need to and don't face the danger of losing anyone of import.

21. Philadelphia Phillies
Roster status: 38

What they'll do: With two open spots, the Phillies hope to make a pick. They've got a short list of about five names and hope one will be around when it's their turn to select.

Who they could lose: The Phillies don't have any eligible players of note they're worried about losing.

22. Oakland A's
Roster status: 39

What they'll do: They've got an open roster spot and they've been willing to take guys in the past, but it seems like they're not likely to be active on Thursday.

Who they could lose: There are some intriguing, if not eye-popping names, on their eligible list, with a power arm like Brad Sullivan the most notable. But there hasn't been any buzz about the A's being pillaged.

23. Houston Astros
Roster status: 34

What they'll do: Lots of room, no plans to use it. The Astros will not participate in the Major League phase, in all likelihood.

Who they could lose: It's a system very deep pitching-wise, so it would make sense if they lost one. The name that keeps coming up is lefty Josh Muecke, who spent the 2005 season with Class A Advanced Salem.

24. Atlanta Braves
Roster status: 39

What they'll do: The Braves have a short list of guys they like. If one of them is still around this late, they may take a stab.

Who they could lose: The best prospects came up last year. The rest were protected, so there's little fear in Atlanta about losing anyone.

25. Cleveland Indians
Roster status: 40

What they'll do: The Indians were at 39, but with the expected re-signing of Bob Wickman, that puts them full up at 40, so they'll probably sit this one out.

Who they could lose: As always, the Indians have some fairly talented players they weren't able to protect, the down side of having one of the deepest systems in baseball. There are some bats like Ryan Mulhern, Jason Cooper and Ben Francisco, and there are arms like J.D. Martin and Chris Cooper.

26. Los Angeles Angels
Roster status: 40

What they'll do: Stocked up at the Major League level, the Angels likely don't have the wiggle room to be players in the first phase of the draft.

Who they could lose: The most interesting name is Bob Zimmerman, who could be of use to someone as a power reliever from the right side.

27. Boston Red Sox
Roster status: 36

What they'll do: They snatched Adam Stern from the Braves a year ago. With plenty of room on the roster, the Sox easily could be active again.

Who they could lose: There are a couple of arms exposed but nothing that really jumps out. Chances are, the Sox won't be too worried on Thursday.

28. New York Yankees
Roster status: 35

What they'll do: The Yankees haven't taken a player in the Major League phase since 1996, so the odds are against it happening now. That being said, they could use some outfield help and there are some players who could be of some use.

Who they could lose: It doesn't look like the Yankees will be hurt too badly, though Bronson Sardinha is available again, as is outfielder Mitch Jones and converted pitcher Ferdin Tejeda.

29. Chicago White Sox
Roster status: 39

What they'll do: They've got a spot open. What's available by the time it's their turn remains to be seen.

Who they could lose: The top pick in the draft -- Fabio Castro -- comes from the White Sox organization.

30. St. Louis Cardinals
Roster status: 40

What they'll do: The Cards have a wish list, perhaps with a particular player in mind. It's all a question of how active the teams are above them in determining whether they get their guy.

Who they could lose: Last year, the Cards were prepared to lose Tyler Johnson (and get him back). This time around, they don't see anyone on their eligible list going in the Major League phase.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.