Royals add right-handed pitching in Rule 5 draft

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Always looking for pitching help, the Kansas City Royals on Thursday acquired a pair of right-handers in separate trades following the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft.

 

The Royals obtained Brad Keller from the Cincinnati Reds and Burch Smith from the New York Mets. The Reds selected Keller fifth overall in the Rule 5 proceedings, while the Mets grabbed Smith with the following pick.

Kansas City acquired the pitchers by offering a player to be named later or cash.

Keller, 22, was originally an eighth-round selection by Arizona in the 2013 MLB draft. He made 26 starts at Double-A Jackson last season, tying for seventh in the Southern League with 10 victories. After entering the season as the No. 7 prospect in the Diamondbacks’ organization, Keller also tied for 10th in the Southern League with 111 strikeouts.

Smith, 27, spent the 2017 season in the Tampa Bay organization, going 5-3 with a 2.40 ERA in 13 appearances (12 starts) with the Gulf Coast Rays (Rookie), Charlotte (A-Advanced) and Durham (Triple A). Originally selected by San Diego in the 14th round of the 2001 MLB draft, Smith has hit 100 mph with his fastball but missed the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons following Tommy John surgery.

Both players will need to stay in the majors during the 2018 season or they must be offered back to their respective clubs. Following Thursday’s draft, the Royals’ major league reserve list is at 40 players.

To be eligible for the Rule 5 draft a player must have spent four or five years with an organization, depending on the player’s age at the time he was signed, but not be on the team’s 40-man roster.

Kansas City also selected right-handed pitcher Daniel Duarte during the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft. Duarte, 21, went 6-1 with a 1.96 ERA in 37 appearances with Tigres de Quintana Roo in the Mexican League.

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