Ex-Rays prospect Hamilton picked in Rule 5 draft

Updated: December 7, 2006, 6:18 PM ET
Associated Press

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Cincinnati Reds worked out a deal to obtain troubled outfielder Josh Hamilton, sending cash to the Chicago Cubs after they picked him from Tampa Bay in the first round of baseball's winter meeting draft Thursday.

Hamilton was the third overall pick in the draft, after right fielder Ryan Goleski went from Cleveland's system to the Devil Rays and right-hander Joakin Soria went from San Diego to Kansas City.

Nineteen players were selected off Triple-A rosters, including three by the Philadelphia Phillies. Players chosen in the draft must stay on the 25-man major league roster with their new club all season or be offered back to their old team for $25,000.

Hamilton was given a $3.96 million signing bonus out of high school when the Devil Rays picked him first overall in the 1999 amateur draft. He missed two seasons because of injuries and unspecified personal issues and then two more when he was suspended in February 2004 for violating baseball's drug policy.

The 25-year-old Hamilton was cleared to begin a comeback in June, but had a setback because of a left knee injury. He said being on a major league roster is a "dream come true" considering where he came from.

"I've always known I have the ability to do it. I've been practicing, working hard at home. I guarantee I'll come in in the best shape I've been in since I've been playing," Hamilton said.

Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky said he got a scouting report from manager Jerry Narron's brother, whose kids played against Hamilton in an amateur league in North Carolina.

"We're real pleased to have him and look forward to seeing him play," Krivsky said as the winter meetings wound down. "We've done a lot of work on this, and tried to move up in the draft."

The Boston Red Sox took Tampa Bay pitcher Nick Debarr, a 6-foot-4 right-hander who is a year removed from Tommy John surgery.

The New York Yankees made their first selection since 1995, taking first baseman Josh Phelps from the Baltimore organization.

A total of 46 players were selected in the Rule 5 draft, including 19 in the major league portion.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press