With all the high anxiety hand wringing going on today about who the Astros will protect from the Rule 5 Draft, I did some looking into their history of this potentially franchise altering but generally "meh" event.
The Rule 5 Draft allows teams to draft other teams prospects if they were 18 or younger on the June 5 preceding their signing and this is the fifth Rule 5 draft upcoming or were 19 or older on the June 5 preceding their signing and this is fourth Rule 5 draft upcoming. If a team does not want their eligible player selected, they must add them to their 40 man roster by the deadline, which this year is by 11pm CT tonight. More info about the draft can be found here.
In the 1st round, the Marlins selected pitcher Alberto Blanco from Houston. Blanco was coming off a year getting shelled at both High-A Kissimmee and AA Jackson. Transaction details elude me, but he pitched for Detroit's AA squad in 1999, was in independent ball in 2000, and then disappeared from professional baseball.
In the 12th round that year, Houston selected Tigers CF Glen Barker. Barker would stick with Houston for 3 years, appearing in 235 games but with only 197 PA, often being used as a pinch runner and defensive replacement. He hit .232/.330/.323 over that span with 30 steals.
In one of the more well known Rule 5 selections, the 2nd round saw Johan Santana stolen from Houston by the Marlins. The Marlins then immediately traded Santana to the Twins for career minor league pitcher Jared Camp, who never even threw a pitch for any Marlins affiliate. In 1999, Santana threw 160.1 innings for Houston's A-ball affiliate Michigan, putting up a 4.66 ERA.
In the 10th round, the Mariners selected Houston OF Chad Alexander. Alexander had just hit .293/.356/.465 with 11 HR between Jackson and AAA New Orleans, though he struggled after his call-up to New Orleans. Seattle apparently reached a deal with Houston, as Alexander never appeared in the Majors, though he did spend two years with the Mariners AAA squad before bouncing between the Cubs and Tigers AAA teams, as well as a few games in independent ball, the next three years.
In the 7th round this year, the Padres selected Houston SS Donaldo Mendez. Mendez had just hit .270/.351/.332 with 39 steals for Michigan. He would appear in 72 games for San Diego between the 2001 and 2003 seasons, hitting just .183/.245/.277 and committing 17 errors.
In the 11th round, the Giants picked Houston infielder Felix Escalona. He had hit .289/.342/.465 with A-ball Lexington in 2001, with 46 steals, 42 doubles, and 16 home runs. San Francisco placed him on waivers at the end of spring training, where he was then picked up by Tampa Bay. In 84 games spread across the 2002-2005 seasons, Escalona hit .209/.261/.282.
In one of the more successful claims by Houston, they selected Indians OF Willy Taveras in the 16th round. Though not quite ready for the majors, the Astros worked out a deal with Cleveland, trading Jeriome Robertson for Luke Scott and the rights to Willy T, that allowed them to keep Taveras in the minors most of the 2004 season. He would play for the Astros through 2006, finishing 2nd in ROY voting in 2005 and hitting .284/.329/.340 with 68 steals before being traded with Taylor Buchholz and Jason Hirsch to Colorado for Miguel Asencio and Jason Jennings.
As best I can tell, this is the last time an Astros player was taken in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft. In the 10th round, the Dodgers picked Houston pitcher D.J. Houlton. Houlton had just thrown 159 innings for AA Round Rock with a 2.94 ERA and 9.0 K/9. In 157 inning for the Dodgers over 53 games in 2005 and 2007, including 19 starts, he put up a 4.99 ERA, going 6-11.
In the 9th round, Houston picked Cubs pitcher Lincoln Holdzkom. Holdzkom was coming off a year where he pitched to a 1.76 ERA in 46 innings over three levels, mostly for AA West Tennesee. He was returned to the Cubs March 11, 2007.
Houston picked pitcher Wesley Wright from the Dodgers in the 8th round. Wright had thrown 78 innings with a 3.92 ERA between AA and AAA in 2007, though he had struggled to a 9.18 ERA in limited AAA action. After struggling for a few years in Houston, Wright started putting things together in 2011. In all, he spent 6 years with the Astros, throwing 239 innings with a 4.44 ERA (5.33 ERA the first three years, 3.32 the last three), before being sold to Tampa Bay in 2013.
In the 13th round, Houston picked Royals pitcher Gilbert De La Vara. De La Vara had just thrown 77 innings between High-A and AA with a 3.27 ERA and just 0.1 HR/9 and 6.5 H/9. He was returned to Kansas City March 31, 2009 and never appeared in the majors.
In the 8th round, Houston picked Boston 3B/1B Jorge Jimenez and traded him to Florida to complete the deal for Matt Lindstrom. Jimenez had just hit .289 with 13 HR for AA Portland. Florida returned Jimenez to Boston that spring.
With the 8th round pick, Houston took Rays pitcher Aneury Rodriguez. Rodriguez had thrown 123.2 innings, mostly with AAA Durham, with a 3.80 ERA. Though struggling quite a bit in the majors, Rodriguez stuck with Houston and ended up with a 5.12 ERA in 91.1 innings, mostly in relief. He last pitched in Korea in 2013.
The Astros also took Yankees pitcher Lance Pendleton with the 17th pick. Houston returned Pendleton to NY in March, then selected him off waivers in September. He threw 4.2 really bad innings for Houston, putting up a 17.36 ERA. He was released by Houston in March of 2012.
With the 1st pick, Houston took Mets pitcher Rhiner Cruz. In 71.2 innings between the Mets' High-A and AA teams, Cruz had a 3.89 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 5.7 BB/9 in 2011. In two years in Houston, Cruz had a 5.31 ERA in 72 games. He was released in June of 2014.
Houston also traded AAA phase selection Marco Duarte for Boston's 10th pick, infielder Marwin Gonzalez. Duarte had spent the last 2 seasons in the Mexican League. Gonzalez was coming off a .288/.343/.400 season for the Cubs AA and AAA teams. In 3 seasons and 751 plate appearances, Marwin has hit .248/.291/.354 for Houston.
Again with the 1st pick, Houston picked Red Sox pitcher Josh Fields. Fields threw 58.1 innings in 2012 between AA and AAA, posting a 2.01 ERA and 0.96 WHIP with 12.0 K/9. In 2 seasons with Houston, he has a 4.66 ERA in 95 games with 10.7 K/9.
With the 14th pick, the Astros picked Padres 1B Nate Freiman. Freiman had hit .298/.370/.502 with 24 HR for AA San Antonio that season. The Astros we unable to keep Freiman, who was selected off waivers by Oakland. In 301 plate appearances over the last two years, he's hit .256/.309/.408 with 9 HR.
With the 1st pick, the Astros took Diamondbacks pitcher Patrick Schuster. Schuster had a 1.83 ERA in 44.1 innings for Arizona's High-A club in 2013. The Astros traded Schuster to San Diego for Anthony Bass. San Diego then returned Schuster to Arizona. Bass had a 6.33 ERA in 27 innings for Houston in 2014.