Left-handed reliever Andrew McKirahan was one of four former Smokies players to be selected in this year’s Rule 5 Draft, which took place at the Winter Meetings on Thursday in San Diego. McKirahan was selected in the Major League portion of the draft by the Miami Marlins, while catcher Luis Flores (Astros), outfielder Brett Jackson (Giants) and infielder Nate Samson (Dodgers) were picked in the Triple-A portion.
McKirahan made 21 appearances for the Smokies in 2014, compiling an 0-3 record and 3.45 ERA (11 ER in 28.2 IP), in addition to two saves. The southpaw fanned 24 batters while walking just six. The lefty was chosen as the tenth selection by the Marlins in the process.
Any player picked in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft must remain on that team’s 25-man roster for the entirety of that next season, and be on the active roster for at least 90 days. If that player does not remain on the MLB roster, he is offered back to the team from which he was chosen for $25,000. If the original team declines, the receiving team may waive the player.
Jackson played for the Smokies during portions of the 2010, 2011 and 2013 seasons, combining for a .255 average (145-569), adding 16 homers and 64 RBI, along with 35 steals in 158 games for Tennessee. Jackson earlier this season had been acquired by the Arizona Diamondbacks from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for eventual 2014 Smokies reliever Blake Cooper.
Flores also spent parts of three campaigns with the Smokies (2011, 2012, 2014), combining for a .238 average (67-281) with 11 homers and 44 RBI in 102 contests. The backstop was picked by the Astros in the Triple-A phase as well.
Samson participated in 323 total games for the Smokies during parts of the 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons, and combined for a .258 average (211-819), adding eight homers and 74 RBI. Those 323 contests are the third-most by a Smokies player in the Smokies Stadium era, dating back to when the club began playing in Kodak at the start of the 2000 campaign.
Last year former Smokies pitcher Marcos Mateo was selected in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks, while infielder Justin Bour and pitcher A.J. Morris were picked by the Miami Marlins and Pittsburgh Pirates, respectively, in the Triple-A phase in 2013.
The Chicago Cubs used their Major League Rule 5 pick by selecting shortstop Tyler Featherston from the Colorado Rockie with the seventh overall selection, in addition to taking outfielder Ariel Ovando from the Houston Astros in the Triple-A portion.