Major League Baseball conducted the Major League phase of its Rule 5 Draft process on Thursday, and the St. Louis Cardinals selected Erik Komatsu from the Washington Nationals' organization with the 22nd-overall pick. Komatsu, a 24-year old centerfield prospect, was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the eight-round of the 2008 MLB June Amateur Draft and traded to the Washington Nationals in June of 2011 for Jerry Hairston Jr. Komatsu finished 2011 with a .277/.367/.382 batting line between the two minor league systems.
Eric Komatsu, OF: The Brewers drafted Komatsu in the eighth round in 2008, from Cal State Fullerton. He missed most of 2009 with injuries to his hamstring and wrist, plus complications from a concussion, but returned to health in 2010 and hit .323/.413/.442 for High-A Brevard County, with 68 walks and 28 steals. This year he's hitting .294/.393/.416 with 53 walks, 44 strikeouts, and 13 steals for Double-A Huntsville. A 23-year-old left-handed hitter, Komatsu lacks power but has decent speed. He has excellent strike zone judgment and is a very polished hitter, but as a tweener-type who lacks big power, he'll likely fit best as a reserve outfielder. I gave him a C+ pre-season but he's probably more on the upper edge of a straight Grade C as a useful future role player.
To be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, a player cannot have been on their team's 40-man roster and must have been either (a) signed at 18 or younger and in the system for five years, or (b) signed at 19 or older and in the system for four years. All Rule 5 players must stay with their new MLB club for the entire season or be offered back to the old team.
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