LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Twins' bullpen looks to be one of the areas that could be hit the hardest by free-agent departures this winter. So it seemingly came as no surprise that when the Twins made a selection in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday morning, it was to take a pitcher that they believe could help them in a relief role in 2011. The Twins selected left-hander Scott Diamond with the 27th pick in the Draft. Diamond, 24, was 8-7 with a 3.46 ERA in 27 starts between Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett County last year.
Minnesota sent $50,000 to the Braves in order to take Diamond from their system and now must retain him on the club's 25-man roster through the entire 2011 season to be guaranteed his rights. If Diamond does not stick on the Major League roster, he must be offered back to Atlanta for $25,000. Diamond has been a starter throughout his career, but the Twins are optimistic that he can provide another left-handed option in relief for the club. "The challenge is whether he can fit what our needs are, which the bullpen is where our needs are," said Mike Radcliff, the Twins' vice president of player personnel. "That's probably where he's going to get his opportunity. His pitches and abilities fit that. It's a little bit of a conversion because he's been starting his entire career." In 158 2/3 innings in 2010, Diamond walked 54 and struck out 123. A scouting report on Diamond, who is 6-foot-3, said that he's been better against lefties for the most part in his career, so perhaps a specialist role could be in the offing. The Twins have been thin on left-handers in the upper levels of their Minor League system. Jose Mijares is slated to be the club's primary left-handed specialist out of the bullpen, and Glen Perkins is another left-handed option to use in relief. But the hope is that Diamond can give a little more depth as well. "This guy has been good all the way through his career," said Vern Followell, the Twins' pro scouting coordinator. "He's had solid numbers, thrown it over [the plate] and he's got a big body. ... He's a guy that's pitched at higher levels and has a better chance than most to make the 25-man roster." Diamond was the club's lone selection in the Rule 5 Draft. The Twins did not lose any players in the Major League portion of the Draft, but they did have three players taken in the Minor League phase. Right-hander Michael Allen was selected by the Nationals, left-hander Jean Mijares was taken by the Cardinals and right-hander Elicer Cardenas was selected by the Braves.