LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Padres finally picked up a left-handed reliever on Thursday, a Rule 5 Draft pick that general manager Josh Byrnes has had his eye on for quite some time.
San Diego acquired 23-year-old lefty Patrick Schuster on Thursday morning as the player to be named later in the trade that sent right-hander Anthony Bass to Houston. The Astros selected Schuster, who had been on the D-backs' Triple-A Reno roster, with the first overall pick in the Rule 5 Draft. San Diego completed the deal by sending $50,000 to Houston to cover the cost of the pick.
Byrnes said Schuster will compete for a job next spring, but there's no guarantee he will be on the Opening Day roster. San Diego is still looking to add another left-handed reliever or two.
"I don't think we're done with our bullpen, so we'll see what we can do," Byrnes said. "I think first things first, he's got to see if he can make our team."
Schuster went 0-1 with a 1.83 ERA, 45 strikeouts, 18 walks and a .191 opponents' average over 55 relief appearances for Class A Advanced Visalia in 2013. Byrnes was the D-backs' GM when they picked Schuster in the 13th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, meaning Byrnes has, in a way, drafted Schuster twice.
"I've got to thank him for that," Schuster said.
"I have a little history with him," Byrnes added. "He's progressed through professional ball. The last two years he's been a reliever, and we had a really good report on him this summer from the Cal League. He's got some lefties out and actually has pitches for right-handed hitters and also keeps the ball on the ground. Worth a shot in the Rule 5."
Perhaps best known for throwing four straight no-hitters as a senior at Mitchell High School near Tampa, Fla., Schuster has compiled a 16-14 record and 3.55 ERA over five Minor League seasons. Scouting reports suggest he's well suited for the role of a situational lefty, and he said this past season -- the most successful of his young career -- was his first as a lefty specialist.
"Obviously that's a great opportunity for someone like me with such a specific role that I'm going to have for my whole career, to be able to have this opportunity when I'm this age," Schuster said in a phone interview. "It's exciting to kind of learn the ropes and get started early.
"I think it's a great opportunity for me just to get going and hopefully help the Padres out this year."
Byrnes said Schuster throws 93 mph with a fastball that moves, and he complements that with a slider and changeup from an arm slot somewhat similar to that of Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner. But there's no guarantee Schuster will be an effective Major League reliever this year, given his lack of experience.
As a Rule 5 Draft pick, Schuster will have to remain on the 25-man roster for the entire season while remaining active (not on the disabled list) for a minimum of 90 days. If not, he'll be offered back to Arizona for $25,000.
"He's got a lot of the ingredients," Byrnes said. "But jumping from A-ball to the big leagues isn't easy, so we'll see if he can do it."
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said they had planned on making a Rule 5 pick with the Padres' selection and swapping Schuster for that player, but he was already off the board. So the trade essentially boiled down to Bass for Schuster, with the Padres covering the cost of the pick the Astros made for them.
"We decided this year, given our opportunity to pick 1-1, we talked to their clubs to see if anybody had interest in moving up to that position. When San Diego expressed interest, we worked out a deal with Bass," Luhnow said. "We figured getting a player with options who has Major League experience was, in our situation, a little wiser than selecting somebody that hasn't played in the Major Leagues and would have to stay up here all year."
The Padres also added two players in the Minor League phase of the Rule 5 Draft on the final day of the Winter Meetings. They selected 23-year-old catcher Adolfo Reina from the Tigers' Double-A Erie affiliate and 24-year-old shortstop Jake Lemmerman from the Cardinals' Double-A Springfield club.
Reina has hit .228/.276/.362 with 20 homers and 96 RBIs in 215 games over five Minor League seasons, and he finished last year with Class A Advanced Lakeland. Lemmerman has compiled a .273/.372/.430 batting line, with 37 homers and 194 RBIs in four Minor League seasons.