LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The Nationals neither made a selection nor lost any players the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft today at the Winter Meetings. But they improved their organizational depth with a pair of picks in the Triple-A portion of the Rule 5.
In the first round of the minor league phase, the Nationals selected second baseman Jacob Wilson off the Cardinals’ Double-A Springfield roster. A round later, the Nats grabbed right-hander Kaleb Fleck off the Double-A Mobile roster of the Diamondbacks.
The Nationals lost only one player in the Rule 5: Left-hander R.C. Orlan was taken off their Double-A Harrisburg roster by the Indians in the first round of the Triple-A draft.
Wilson, 27, was a 10th-round selection of the Cardinals in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Memphis. He spent the entire 2017 season at Springfield after reaching Triple-A Memphis in each of the two previous seasons. Last season, Wilson slashed .248/.337/.417 in 129 games at Springfield with 17 homers and 66 RBIs.
Director of minor league operations Mark Scialabba said the Nationals have had Wilson on their radar for some time.
“We like Wilson. He has some power, versatility,” Scialabba said. “Just want to get him in the system and add to the inventory. Get our hands on him and see what we can do with him.”
Wilson has played mostly third base in his six minor league seasons, but has started more games at second base (182) than any other position. Last year, he played six positions for Springfield - all four infield positions, plus right field and left field - in addition to serving as a designated hitter.
Fleck, 28, was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Diamondbacks in September 2011 after playing collegiately at Pittsburgh-Johnstown. He is 19-12 with a 3.64 ERA in 250 career minor league games, all as a reliever. Last season at Triple-A Reno, Fleck was 2-2 with a 5.30 ERA and a save in 44 games.
Throughout his career, Fleck has averaged 10 strikeouts per nine innings, and Scialabba said the “arm strength” he possesses was attractive to the Nats.
“We want to get our hands on him and see if we can do some things to maximize his potential,” Scialabba said.
Orlan, 27, split time between high Single-A Potomac and Harrisburg in 2017, posting a combined 3-4 record and 4.06 ERA and five saves in 44 games. He is 13-18 with a 3.81 ERA and 20 saves in five seasons on the Nationals farm after being taken in the 30th round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft out of North Carolina. He prepped at Deep Run High School in Glen Allen, Va., and pitched in two games for Team Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.