Rhiner Cruz top pick in Rule 5 draft

DALLAS -- The Houston Astros have made pitcher Rhiner Cruz the top pick in baseball's Rule 5 draft.

The draft of players left off the 40-man rosters of major league teams was held Thursday at the winter meetings.

The right-handed Cruz was a combined 5-3 with seven saves in Class A and Double A for the New York Mets. A total of 12 players were picked in the major league portion of the draft, with teams paying $50,000 to claim them. A drafted player must stay on his new team's 25-man roster or be offered back to his original club for $25,000.

"It was expected," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said of the loss of Cruz. "I was in the Dominican Republic late in November. There was a certain amount of buzz about Cruz and we did expect that he probably would be taken. He's got a very good arm, hasn't had great command during his minor league career, probably similar to the selection Washington made last year with Elvin Ramirez. We got Ramirez back. We'll see whether Cruz can stick with Houston, but it wasn't unexpected.

"As a little bit of background, we had more first-time Rule 5 eligible players in our organization than any organization in baseball. Given our roster situation, we just couldn't protect everybody. And in some ways it's an indication of at least the depth of the talent that we have. From that standpoint it's unfortunate but anticipated."

The New York Yankees drafted right-hander Brad Meyers from the Washington system. They also acquired lefty Cesar Cabral from Kansas City for cash after the Royals drafted him from Boston.

The Atlanta Braves selected left-hander Robert Fish from the Los Angeles Angels organization.

The 23-year-old Fish has been used mostly as a reliever over six minor-league seasons with the Angels and gives the Braves another left-handed option out of the bullpen.

The Yankees released outfielder Greg Golson to make room.

Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin and The Associated Press was used in this report.