By Roger Hoover / Jacksonville Suns
Thursday morning’s Rule 5 draft saw several notable former Jacksonville Suns on the move from the Miami Marlins to new organizations.
2015 Suns Zack Cox, Chipper Smith, Viosergy Rosa, and Alex Burgos will all play for new organizations in 2016.
Most attention goes to the major league phase of the Rule-5 draft, where players selected must remain on the active major league roster for a minimum of 90 days the next season, or be returned to their previous organization. However that is not the case in the Triple-A or Double-A phase of the Rule 5 draft, where there is a lot of movement that impacts the Southern League.
Not every minor league player can be picked, but players who were signed when they were 19 or older and have played in professional baseball for four years are eligible, as are players who were signed at 18 and have played in pro ball for five years.
Zack Cox with the Suns in 2015. Photo Courtesy: Jay Metz
With the eighteenth pick of the Triple-A phase of the draft, the Washington Nationals selected third baseman Zack Cox from the Marlins. Cox had played in a Suns uniform from 2012-13, plus spent most of 2015 in Jacksonville.
Cox is coming off of the best season of his Marlins organization career. Cox had the rare distinction of being a 2015 Southern League Postseason and Midseason All-Star, after hitting .321 with four homers and 27 RBI in 103 games played for the Suns in 2015 before being transferred to Triple-A New Orleans on August 19. Cox, originally selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round of the 2010 draft out of Arkansas, was acquired by the Marlins in a trade with the Cardinals in 2012.
The second round of the Triple-A phase saw more movement for former Suns. The Baltimore Orioles selected left-handed pitcher Chipper Smith, who had pitched the last two seasons in Jacksonville.
Smith made his Suns debut in May 2014, and in 14 starts that season went 3-4 with a 4.29 ERA in 65 innings on the mound. Smith started the 2015 season with Jacksonville, yet also had a stint with High-A Jupiter midway through the year. Smith returned to the Suns to close the year, and overall went 3-4 with a 4.33 ERA in 21 appearances and 16 starts.
Also in the second round, the Oakland Athletics selected first baseman Viosergy Rosa from the Marlins.
Rosa first came to Jacksonville just in time for the 2014 playoff push. In the final 20 games of that season, he hit .292 with two homers and 17 RBI to help during Jacksonville’s 10-game winning streak to close the season and earn a playoff berth. In the playoffs Rosa hit four homers in along with a .379 average and 14 RBI in seven postseason games. His home run hitting was instrumental in the Suns’ sweep of the Chattanooga Lookouts in the finals, and Rosa was named the 2014 Southern League Championship Series Most Valuable Player.
Rosa entered the 2015 season as the Baseball America No. 23 Marlins prospect. He finished the season hitting .217 with 10 homers and 59 RBI. Rosa got off to a slow start at the plate, hitting .190 with two homers and 27 RBI in the first half, but in the second half those numbers improved to a .245 average, eight homers, and 32 RBI, playing in 61 games both halves.
Additionally left-handed relief pitcher Alex Burgos was selected from by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second round of the Triple-A phase. Burgos pitched in 10 games and made one start, going 1-1 with a 2.12 ERA in 29 and two-thirds innings pitched.
Along with seeing Cox picked by the Nationals in the first round of the Triple-A phase, the Marlins also saw the Braves select right-handed pitcher Enderson Franco, and the Dodgers select RHP Felipe Gonzalez.
In round two, the Marlins lost right-handed pitcher D.J. Johnson to the Los Angeles Angels.
The Marlins gained right-handed pitcher Patrick Johnson from the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first round of the Triple-A Phase. Johnson reached the High-A level in the Rockies organizaiton in 2013, and spent last season in independent baseball with Sioux City, where he was 15-1 with a 2.08 ERA in the American Association.
In the second round, the Marlins selected catcher Maxx Tissenbaum from the Tampa Bay Rays. Tissenbaum spent last season at High-A Charlotte, where in 73 games he .257 with one home run and 33 RBI. Tissenbaum was originally selected by the San Diego Padres in the 11th round of the 2012 draft from Stony Brook University.
The Marlins also selected right-handed pitcher Juan Caballero from the St. Louis Cardinals. Caballero hasn’t pitched above rookie level with the Cardinals, spending last season in Johnson City in the Appalachian League.
Other notable Southern Leaguers on the move today include former Montgomery Biscuits outfielder Tyler Goeddel, who was the first pick of the major league phase by the Philadelphia Phillies. Former Jackson Generals outfielder Jabari Blash was selected from the Mariners by the Athletics, and former Biscuits outfielder Joey Rickard was selected by the Orioles from the Rays.
A full list of today’s Rule 5 draft results can be found here.