The Kansas City Royals announced today that they have acquired right-handed pitchers Brad Keller and Burch Smith in separate trades following the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft. Keller was selected fifth overall by the Cincinnati Reds, while Smith was taken sixth overall by the New York Mets, before being acquired by the Royals for a player to be named/cash considerations.
Keller, 22, was originally an eighth-round selection by Arizona in the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft. He made 26 starts at Jackson (AA) last season, tying for seventh in the Southern League with 10 victories, while his 111 strikeouts tied for 10th. He entered the 2017 season as the No. 7 prospect in the Diamondbacks’ organization, according to MLB.com.
Smith, 27, spent the 2017 season in the Tampa Bay Rays’ organization. In 12 starts and 13 appearances last year, he went a 5-3 with a 2.40 ERA, holding the opposition to a .198 batting average with the Gulf Coast Rays (Rookie), Charlotte (A-Advanced) and Durham (AAA). He was originally selected in the 14th round of the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft by San Diego. He missed the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons following Tommy John surgery, after making his MLB debut with the Padres in 2013.
Both players will need to stay at the Major League level during the 2018 season, or will have to be offered back to their respective clubs. Following today’s draft, the Royals’ Major League reserve list is at 40 players.
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 (8 ER in 36.2 IP) in 37 appearances with Tigres de Quintana Roo in the Mexican League.