Of all the people happy to see infielder-outfielder Jeff Kobernus and left-hander Danny Rosenbaum back in the Nationals organization, Class AAA Syracuse Manager Tony Beasley might be the most thrilled.
Both players were taken in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft in December, and both had long looks with other teams in spring training. Eventually, the Detroit Tigers and Colorado Rockies decided to return Kobernus and Rosenbaum for half the $50,000 drafting cost. Per Rule 5 stipulations, players must make a major league roster for the whole season or be offered back to their franchises.
Beasley’s Chiefs are 13-20 but just took three of four at Durham. The 24-year-old Kobernus is second in the International League in batting average (.371) and stolen bases (14), while Rosenbaum, 25, ranks fifth with a 2.27 ERA.
The right-handed hitting Kobernus, a 2009 second-round pick who was a college standout at California, has played nine games in left field, seven at his original position of second base, six in center field and one at third base, where Beasley says he will play more frequently in the near future. Kobernus, 6 foot 2 and 210 pounds, has been successful on 134 of 168 stolen base attempts as a minor leaguer.
“He is a student of the game when he’s on the base paths,” Beasley said Thursday in a phone interview. “He’ll look at the pitcher’s grip when he’s on second. He’ll do everything he can. In him, I see a winning player and we need as many of those as we can get in D.C.”
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Rosenbaum, meanwhile, has a 2.19-to-1 groundout-to-flyout ratio as he continues to do what he has done since being picked in the 22nd round out of Xavier in 2009. He’s 3-2 after striking out a season-high seven while allowing one earned run in seven innings in a 5-3 win over the Bulls on Wednesday.
“He’s a lefty who has to mix and match,” Beasley said. “He’s not a power guy, but he has maturity and mound presence. Hopefully he can continue on the path he’s on and create opportunities for himself.”
Having two players chosen out of the organization speaks to the depth in Washington’s system. Neither made the 40-man roster, but both have a chance to become major leaguers.
Kobernus even stuck around with the defending American League champions until March 23. The Boston Red Sox selected him in the Rule 5 draft and acquired a minor leaguer from the Tigers for his rights, which the Nationals are glad to have back.
For the Tigers “to even take a chance, especially with their dynamics, the team they have and being in an AL scenario where you don’t use as much of the bench, that says something about what his capabilities are,” Beasley said. “You can see that he picked up a lot on how to go about his business.”