• Rule 5 Draft results
"I don't think we're ever surprised when we lose a Rule 5 pick," Astros pro scouting director Kevin Goldstein said. "We've seen it happen before. It's often unpredictable. Sometimes guys you expect go, sometimes [the ones] you don't expect go."
The Astros, because their 40-man roster is full, didn't take a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft, but they made two selections in the Triple-A phase: catcher Eduardo De Oleo from the D-backs in the first round, and right-handed pitcher Jared Mortensen from the Rays in the second.
De Oleo, 23, split his 2016 campaign across three levels in the Arizona organization, combining to hit .261 with two home runs and 15 RBIs in 21 games. A native of the Dominican Republic, De Oleo has played in parts of six Minor League seasons since signing with the Yankees as an international free agent in '10.
Goldstein said the Astros need catching depth.
"We're really excited to get him, actually," he said. "This guy was a Rule 5 pick in the Minor League phase last year. Arizona took him from New York. He's got tools, especially behind the plate. He's a good defender, he's got a really plus arm, and he's a guy we've seen some power out of, and hopefully we'll see it manifest itself in games."
Mortensen, 28, spent the 2016 season at Double-A Montgomery in Tampa Bay's organization, posting a 7-7 record and a 5.23 ERA in 34 games, including four starts. A knuckleball pitcher, Mortensen compiled 86 strikeouts and 56 walks in his 72 1/3 innings pitched this season. Mortensen is a native of Canada.
• Hot Stove Tracker
"He's a fun pick," Goldstein said. "He's not a young kid. He was signed out of [independent league] ball at 25, and the guy has really grinded it out and spent some time [with] Team Canada. This is the first year, 2016, he became a full-time knuckleballer. You can see a lot of walks, but he struck out nearly 11 per nine [innings]. The pitches really danced. We're going to give him a shot and see how it works out. He's entering a knuckleballer's prime at this point."
In the Double-A phase of the 2013 Rule 5 Draft, the Astros selected knuckleballer Blaine Sims from the Braves. He most recently pitched in the Houston organization with Class A Advanced Lancaster in 2015.