LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- With their 40-man roster full, the Twins did not make a selection in the Major League phase of Thursday's Rule 5 Draft, but did select two pitchers in the Triple-A phase.
The Twins selected right-hander Kevin Thomas from the Cardinals' Double-A affiliate and left-hander Jim Fuller from the Mets' Double-A affiliate. The Twins also lost Double-A New Britain right-handers Jonathan Velasquez to the Mets and Tim Atherton to the A's.
Thomas, 27, posted a 3.00 ERA with 80 strikeouts and 18 walks in 63 innings between Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Memphis last season, although only 3 1/3 innings came at Memphis. The 6-foot-3 right-hander has a career 3.93 ERA in the Minor Leagues with 400 strikeouts in 490 1/3 innings.
"He had a big year at Double-A as a setup reliever there," Twins director of pro scouting Vern Followell said. "The reports say he came up with a really good slider, so we're hoping that blossoms here. He's going to compete for a spot at Triple-A. We knew he has a plus fastball, but now he has a slider to go with it."
Fuller, 26, had a 3.24 ERA with 58 strikeouts and 25 walks in 50 innings between Class A Advanced St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton. The 5-foot-10 left-hander has a career 2.95 ERA with 315 strikeouts in 308 innings in the Minors.
"He had a very nice year at A ball, but had a little bit more trouble at Double-A, but struck out more guys there," Followell said. "So he'll probably start competing for a job in Double-A. Last year was his first year as a bullpen guy, so you're just looking for clues for how a guy can turn into something unexpected."
Each pick cost $12,000 and unlike the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft, the players can be sent to any level next season.