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12/10/09 10:54 AM ET
Tribe nets Ambriz, Horwitz, loses Lofgren
Club takes shot on big righty from D-backs in Rule 5
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
INDIANAPOLIS -- Sometimes the Rule 5 giveth; sometimes the Rule 5 taketh.
For the Indians, Thursday's Rule 5 Draft on the final day of the Winter Meetings at the Indiana Convention Center did a little bit of both. The Indians used the fifth pick in the Major League phase of the Draft to grab right-hander Hector Ambriz from the D-backs, and they lost left-handed starter Chuck Lofgren to the Brewers with the 14th pick.
In the Minor League phase of the Rule 5, the Tribe selected Brian Horwitz from the Giants' Double-A roster, with the intent on having him as corner-outfield depth at Triple-A Columbus. The Indians lost left-handers Anillins Martinez (Marlins) and Matt Meyer (Cardinals) from the Double-A Akron roster.
When evaluating the chance the Indians are taking on Ambriz, who will compete for a spot in the big league bullpen, consider this: Last year, 21 players were taken in the Rule 5 Draft's Major League phase. Of those 21, six saw time in the Majors during the season and only three stuck with the teams that acquired them.
So, it's pretty much a shot in the dark.
But with an open roster spot and a meager $50,000 fee owed to Arizona, the Indians, with a positive scouting report on Ambriz, are willing to shoot away.
"We looked at it like a long-shot gamble," said John Mirabelli, the Tribe's assistant general manager in charge of scouting. "So which guy out there would have a chance to impact the Major League team the most and where could we find some potential upside? This was the guy we targeted."
Ambriz said he's excited about the opportunity.
"I've been in baseball four years now," Ambriz said. "People say there's any opportunity, you have to take it. I just have to step in and make the team."
Ambriz spent most of 2009 at Triple-A Reno, where he went 9-9 with a 5.57 ERA in 23 appearances, including 22 starts. He struck out 103 and walked 40 in 127 2/3 innings. The 25-year-old also made five starts for Double-A Mobile, where he was 3-2 with a 2.17 ERA. He struck out 32 and walked six in 29 innings for the BayBears.
Listed at 6-foot-2, 235 pounds, Ambriz is a product of UCLA. The Orange, Calif., native was originally taken in the fifth round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. He throws a power fastball, curveball and slider.
"Our scouts like his stuff," Mirabelli said. "He's got some power to all his pitches. He's got a very good history, all the way back to college. He's a good strike-thrower. He's been used exclusively as a starter throughout his Major League career, but our scouts think he can be effective in a Major League bullpen."
If Ambriz doesn't stick with the Tribe, either on the active roster or the Major League disabled list, for the length of the 2010 season, he must be offered back to the D-backs for $25,000.
And the same, of course, goes for Lofgren, who must be offered back to the Tribe if he doesn't stick with the Brewers. Lofgren was once one of the top pitching prospects in the Tribe system. He was an All-Star Futures Game selection in 2007. But in the midst of some family troubles off the mound and some struggles on it, his stock took a hit.
Lofgren pitched well at Akron early in 2009, but he was 6-10 with a 5.31 ERA in 17 starts at Columbus.
"Chuck has the pedigree, and he's had a lot of highs and done some very good things," farm director Ross Atkins said. "He's extremely durable, extremely competitive. But at this point, we feel we have better options to win at the Major League level."
Horwitz, 27, is a new addition to the Columbus mix, and he does have some big league experience with the Giants. He appeared in 21 games with them in 2008, batting .222 with two homers and four RBIs. Last year, while with Triple-A Fresno, he batted .290 with 10 doubles, four homers and 26 RBIs in 76 games before his season was cut short with a left rib cage muscle strain.
"He's a right-handed-hitting corner outfielder, something we have a need for, obviously," Mirabelli said. "He can handle the bat. He did pretty well in a small sample in the big leagues. He'll go to Columbus and give us some depth where we need it."
Martinez and Meyer were not considered major losses, as neither pitcher figured into the Tribe's Triple-A plans for 2010.