Photo By AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin
By Rich Mancuso
Oscar Hernandez was optioned down Monday afternoon to the Arizona Diamondbacks Double-A Mobile Baybears of the Southern League. The 23-year old right handed catcher is not out of options and will return to the big club at some point.
He is a Rule-5 player, and in baseball that means he will return to the Major League level. And, unless there is a longtime injury the Diamondbacks, deep in the catcher department, will see Hernandez eventually become the regular backup to starter Welington Castillo.
Castillo returned to the lineup Monday night after spending time away from the club on a maternity leave due to the birth of his second son. He had four hits in the Diamondbacks win over the New York Mets.
But last week in New York, at Citi Field, Hernandez that special player with Rule-5 status had an impact as Arizona swept a three-game series from the Mets.
It was a 12th inning leadoff home run in the middle game of the series, a long drive off Jerry Blevins that hugged the foul pole, that gave Arizona the win. It also showed his manager, Chip Hale, how important it is to have a player under the Rule-5 guidelines.
“The advantage of getting a player like Oscar and yeah, he is important to us and I am very proud of him,” Hale said. It was also the first career home run for Hernandez who was selected by Arizona overall in the 2014 Rule 5 draft.
He played 18 games with Arizona in 2015 as a Rule 5 draft pick from Tampa Bay, collecting five hits in 31 at-bats and was optioned to Class A Visalia to begin this season.
“Worked everyday in the minor leagues to get here,” said Hernandez. “To get here and help this team get a win, you can’t have a better feeling than that.”
The Puento De Fuo native of Venezuela, played in 18-games in his first Major League season with Arizona last year after starting the year on the disabled list with a break to his left hand.
Ironic that his Major League debut came as a pinch runner against the Mets, and at Citi Field last July 12th. For a Rule-5 player that seems like an eternity, but this up-and-down routine with the Diamondbacks does mean there is value in what Hernandez does.
Simply put, here is an explanation of how the Rule-5 draft/player works within the guidelines of Major League Baseball:
“A team that selects a player in the Rule 5 Draft pays $50,000 to the team from which he was selected. The receiving team must then keep the player on the Major League 25-man roster for the entirety of the net season and the selected player must remain active for a minimum of 90 days.”
In addition, all players on a Major League Baseball team 40-man roster, and regardless of eligibility are in that area of being protected and ineligible for the Rule 5 draft.
And that means a player must remain active, and not going on the disabled list. It’s one of those rules that baseball is looking to revise as their new collective bargaining agreement is renewed with owners during the off season.
Hernandez hopes the rules stays the same, as do the others who play under the same stipulations.