A's Take Two In Rule 5; Drop Casilla

Santiago Casilla was let go.

The Oakland A's have made it an annual tradition to take a player in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft and that tradition continued on Thursday, as Oakland snagged right-hander Bobby Cassevah from the Los Angeles Angels. The team also took a right-hander from the Texas Rangers' organization in the Triple-A portion, Beau Vaughan, and parted ways with reliever Santiago Casilla.

The Oakland A's have one of the most effective and deepest bullpens in baseball, but that didn't stop them from adding a reliever in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft on Thursday. With the draft's ninth overall pick, the A's took right-hander Bobby Cassevah out of Los Angeles Angels organization. The A's also selected a reliever in the minor league portion of the draft, right-hander Beau Vaughan of the Texas Rangers. The A's didn't lose any players in the major or minor league portions.

Rule 5 picks must be kept on a team's 25-man roster for an entire season or be offered back to their original organization. Consequently, Cassevah was automatically added to the A's 40-man roster after being drafted. Going into Thursday, the A's had a full 40-man roster. To make room for Cassevah, Oakland dropped right-hander Santiago Casilla. Casilla was arbitration-eligible and was a candidate to be non-tendered next week at the deadline for when teams had to offer contracts or non-tender their arbitration-eligible players.

Cassevah comes to Oakland after spending the 2009 season with Double-A Arkansas of the Texas League. A native of Jacksonville, Florida, Cassevah went 3-7 with a 3.68 ERA and four saves for the Travelers in 2009. He held opposing batters to a .236 average and allowed only two homeruns. His K:BB ratio was unimpressive (45 strike-outs to 37 walks), but Cassevah was among the minor league leaders in inducing groundballs last season, a trait the A's like in their relief pitchers.

Cassevah was originally a 34th round pick of the Angels out of Pace High School in 2004. Coming out of high school, Cassevah was considered a first-round talent, but he dropped in the draft because he underwent Tommy John surgery as a senior. The Angels signed him to an above-slot bonus of $175,000. Cassevah was a two-sport star in high school and turned down the opportunity to play quarterback at LSU to sign with the Angels.

The 24-year-old had moved slowly through the Angels system, not reaching Double-A until his fifth professional campaign. He isn't overpowering, with his fastball mostly sitting in the low-90s/high-80s, but he can reach back and hit 93-94 MPH on occasion. Cassevah's best pitch is his slider. He was an extreme groundball pitcher for Arkansas in 2009, inducing groundballs on more than 70% of balls hit in play.

Cassevah will join the A's major league spring training camp and will have to remain on the A's roster all season or be offered back to Los Angeles for $25,000 (the A's paid $50,000 for the right to draft Cassevah). Last year, the A's took outfielder Ben Copeland from the San Francisco Giants organization. Copeland started the season on the A's major league disabled list and was briefly on the team's major league roster, but he was offered back to San Francisco, who reclaimed him, before appearing in a game with the A's.

Vaughan split his season between Triple-A Oklahoma City and Double-A Frisco in the Rangers' chain. The right-hander had a 3.77 ERA and eight saves in 2009. The 28-year-old struck-out 57 in 62 innings pitched. He was originally a third-round pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2003 out of Arizona State. Vaughan spent six seasons in the Red Sox chain before joining Texas last year in a trade that sent Wes Littleton to Boston.

Vaughan has a career 3.65 ERA and has struck-out 395 in 402 innings over seven seasons. Vaughan was a starter early in his career, but he has been a reliever since 2006. He is a side-armer and a sinker, slider pitcher who gets a lot of groundball outs and has good command. Vaughan became well-known around the blogosphere last season when he started a popular blog on the MLBlogs network called "Beau Knows Diddly," where he interviewed his teammates.

Unlike players selected in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft, players taken in the minor league portion are not required to stay on a particular roster all season. Nevertheless, Vaughan's veteran experience in minor league baseball makes it likely that he will spend the 2010 season with Triple-A Sacramento.

Whether or not Cassevah makes the A's roster, Oakland's bullpen will have a different look in 2010 without Casilla. The right-hander has been a member of the A's bullpen for each of the past three seasons, appearing in 46 or more games for Oakland in each of those years. One of the hardest throwers in the A's organization, Casilla struggled with his command in 2009, allowing six homers in 48.1 innings and a .303 BAA. He also saw his strike-out total dip to only 35 after whiffing 43 in 50.1 innings in 2008.

Casilla was one of four arbitration-eligible players on the A's roster and he was a strong candidate to be non-tendered because of the depth in the A's bullpen and the rise in his ERA in 2009 to 5.96. The A's other arbitration-eligible players are Jack Cust, Rajai Davis and Scott Hairston.

Casilla had a long and winding history with the A's. Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2000, Casilla was one of the A's top prospects in 2004 when he rose three levels in the Oakland system and struck-out 102 batters in only 61.2 innings. At the time, Casilla was going by the name Jairo Garcia and he was believed to be only 21 years old. Casilla made his major league debut in 2004. During the spring of 2006, Casilla revealed his true name and that he was actually three years older than previously believed. After shuttling back-and-forth between Triple-A and the big leagues for much of 2005 through early 2007, Casilla became a regular in the A's bullpen by mid-season 2007. At times, Casilla was dominant for Oakland, but he struggled with intermittent elbow problems that impacted his control and sometimes sapped the effectiveness of his out-pitch: the slider.

Given Casilla's ability to throw in the mid-90s and his good slider, it is likely that he will sign a major league deal with another team for 2010.

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