The Rule V Draft culminated the 2012 Major League Baseball Winter Meetings and the Houston Astros, the worst team in baseball that is making the move to the American League in 2013, had a busy day.
They took Boston Red Sox reliever Josh Fields with the first pick. With their second pick, leading off the second round of the MLB phase, the Astros took former Duke great Nate Freiman.
The two players have to stay on the Astros 40-man roster for the entire season or be offered back to their original team. That means that Freiman could be the Astros starting first baseman in 2013, be their DH, come off the bench, or be sent back to San Diego and be playing in the minors.
MLB.com expected Freiman to be selected and included him in their prospect watch leading up to the draft.
Freiman had a busy 2012 season. During the regular season, the first baseman played with Double-A San Antonio and was named both a Mid- and Post-Season Texas League All-Star. He led the league in RBIs with 105, while striking out less than 100 times (95 to 49 walks). He hit .289 with 31 doubles and 24 homeruns.
After the regular season ended, he headed to the World Baseball Classic Qualifier in Jupiter, Florida as a member of Team Israel. He was THE man there, despite the fact that Israel lost in the finals to Spain. He had a pair of two homer games there.
After the WBC Qualifier, Freiman head to the Arizona Fall League, where he was nominated for the Dernell Stenson Award. With Peoria, he hit .266 in 21 games. He had five doubles and drove in 14. He walked nine times compared to 12 strikeouts.
Astros Director of Pro Scouting Kevin Goldstein said the team would have passed on their first pick of the second round if Freiman was not available:
“This is a guy who’s worth taking a chance on, a guy we’ve like since his days at Duke,” Goldstein said. “He was great in Arizona and played well for Israel as well. Right-handed guys with that kind of power are not normally available in the Rule 5. You think about what we have right now. He destroys left-handed pitching, and he’s a guy you give an opportunity to him in the spring and see what he can do.”
It has been a whirlwind season for the former Blue Devil, but now he has a great shot at making his big league dream come true.