Without an open spot on the organizations 40-man roster, the Yankees were not able to make a selection in this mornings Rule V draft. They did, however, lose two prospects who have been key contributors to the Trenton Thunder. All-Star closer Tommy Kahnle was selected fourth overall by the Colorado Rockies in the major league portion of the draft while O’Brien was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the minor league phase.
The 24-year old Kahnle served as the Thunder closer in 2013 and garnered all-star honors by saving 15 games in 46 appearances. The reliever features a mid-90′s fastball that Double-A hitters had trouble catching up to most of last season. Kahnle struck out 74 batters in 60 innings pitched while posting a 2.85 ERA over that stretch. Since being selected by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 2010 MLB Draft, Kahnle has posted a 12.0 K/9 mark. In light of his ability to rack up strikeouts, he has battled serious command issues; posting a 5 BB/9 mark for his career and a 6 BB/9 in 2013.
Ideally an organization would select an arm like Kahnle to store somewhere in their bullpen for a season to be used sparingly in order to develop while also being retained under the Rule V provisions. Colorado is a team that placed relief pitching as their top priority this offseason. If they hope to retain Kahnle long term, they will likely be forced to give him a legitimate shot in their bullpen because they can ill afford to have him take a roster spot to be stashed away. If the Rockies decide to not carry Kahnle on their big league roster at any point next season, he must be offered back to the Yankees. Because of his serious control issues and secondary pitches that are not yet fully developed, there is a distinct possibility that he could find his way back to the Yankees.
O’Brien was viewed by the organization as an utmost professional who did anything and everything that they asked of him. The 23-year old hurler was selected by the Yankees in the ninth round of the 2008 draft and has been a steady presence in the Thunder rotation over the course of the last two seasons. Between 2012-21013, O’Brien has threw 213 innings for Trenton both as a starter and middle reliever and went 12-15 with a 4.16 ERA while walking just 83 batters. O’Brien doesn’t have the pure stuff that will draw rave reviews but he is an intelligent pitcher who understands how to work to a specific batter. He may not be an ace, but he is a pitcher that you know will give you a quality effort night in and night out. O’Brien will likely serve as Triple-A depth for the Reds and could ultimately project as a solid long reliever with the ability to eat innings as his career progresses forward.