The Washington Nationals on Wednesday made their first Rule 5 draft selection since 2010 by taking Red Sox minor league pitcher Thad Ward with the first pick.
The Rule 5 draft allows teams to acquire players with at least four or five years of minor league service who aren’t on a 40-man roster. The Nationals had the first pick in the draft after having the worst record in the major leagues (55-107) this past season. Rule 5 picks rarely work out, but there have been a few needles in the haystack in recent years, including Baltimore’s Anthony Santander and Boston’s Garrett Whitlock.
But he tore his ulnar collateral ligament in 2021 and underwent Tommy John Surgery. The 6-foot-3 righty then returned to the mound late in the 2022 campaign to positive results — a 3.33 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 51 1/3 innings between rookie ball, low-A, high-A and Double-A.
The Nationals, who had one final 40-man roster spot left, decided not to take a second player in the Rule 5 draft.
Ward was one of three Boston players gobbled up by other clubs. The others were pitcher Andrew Politi, who the Orioles picked, and former Navy pitcher Noah Song, who was selected by the Phillies. Song hasn’t pitched professionally since 2019 and does not have to be placed on the Phillies’ 40-man roster until his current Naval service obligation has been completed.
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