The major-league phase of the 2021 Rule 5 Draft may be postponed indefinitely while Major League Baseball remains in a lockout, but the minor-league phase still took place as scheduled on Wednesday afternoon.
The Red Sox used Wednesday’s version of the Rule 5 Draft to add left-hander Austin Lambright from the Royals and right-hander Brian Keller from the Yankees organizations, respectively. Boston added these two pitchers without losing any of their own prospects to other teams.
Lambright, 27, was originally selected by Kansas City in the 10th round of the 2018 amateur draft out of the University of Central Oklahoma. He posted a 4.84 ERA in 16 appearances at rookie ball that year, but enjoyed more success in his first full season as a pro.
Across 33 relief appearances between the Royals’ Low-A and High-A affiliates, Lambright put up a 2.85 ERA and 2.37 FIP to go along with 74 strikeouts to 25 walks over 47 1/3 total innings of work in 2019.
Although he did not pitch in 2020 (COVID-19 pandemic) or 2021 (unknown reasons), Lambright is intriguing in that he has proven to be effective against left-handed hitters.
Back in May, FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen wrote that Lambright had “relief potential” and noted that the southpaw had reached 95 mph with his fastball two years ago.
A native of Washington, Lambright underwent Tommy John surgery while in college at Abilene Christian University. He later transferred to Central Oklahoma for his senior season.
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, Lambright has a twin brother, Brandon, who was drafted by the Rockies out of Abilene Christian in 2017.
Keller, on the other hand, is a 27-year-old who was originally selected by New York in the 39th round of the 2016 amateur draft out of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Born in Wisconsin himself, Keller has experience as both a starter and reliever and made it as far as Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre while a member of the Yankees organization.
In 26 outings (11 starts) for the RailRiders in 2021, the 6-foot-3, 210 pound righty pitched to the tune of a 2.77 ERA and 4.37 FIP while recording 65 strikeouts and 46 walks over 55 1/3 innings pitched.
The Red Sox poaching Keller away from the Yankees does not come as much of a surprise. Since Chaim Bloom took over as chief baseball officer in 2019, Boston has selected righties Raynel Espinal (2019) and Kaleb Ort (2020) in the minor-league phase and righty reliever Garrett Whitlock (2020) in the major-league phase of the Rule 5 Draft.
All three of Whitlock, Espinal, and Ort made their big-league debuts in 2021.
(Picture of Chaim Bloom: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)