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Pitchers dominate winter meeting draft with 8 of 10 players taken, 3 from Yankees' system

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Major League teams stocked up on pitching Wednesday in the big league phase of the winter meeting draft of unprotected players, taking pitchers with eight of the 10 selections — including three from the New York Yankees' system.

The Yankees lost a pair of right-handers in first two picks, with Oakland taking Mitch Spence and Kansas City selecting Matt Sauer. Texas, fresh off its first World Series victory, took right-hander Carson Coleman from the Yankees with the No. 23 selection.

Washington, drafting fifth, was the lone club to take a position player when it drafted shortstop Nasim Nunez from the Florida Marlins' system.

Nationals General manager Mike Rizzo wants to see what manager Dave Martinez can do even with the challenge that the infielder from the Bronx likely won't get a lot chances to bat at the big league level. Rizzo wants his coaches to iron out some mechanical issues with Nunez, 23, adding strength and flexibility.

“He gives Davey an option off the bench a defensive replacement, elite defensive skills and a base runner, base stealer and a guy that can help us win games at the big league level,” Rizzo said.

Teams pay $100,000 to take a player in the major league portion of what it called the Rule 5 draft. The players must stay on the big league roster all of next season or clear waivers and be offered back to their original organization for $50,000.

The Athletics plan on giving Spence every chance to make the roster as a starter. General manager Dave Forst said there's always a chance Spence winds up in the bullpen if no rotation spot is available.

“But we’ll give him every opportunity to make the team,” Forst said.

Spence, 25, was a 10th-round pick by the Yankees in the 2019 amateur draft out of South Carolina Aiken. The native of Kirkland, Washington, spent this season in Triple-A in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre with a 4.35 ERA.

“We’re not looking at his ERA,” Forst said. “There’s enough information now to break down his pitches his swing-and-miss stuff, his other metrics.”

The Chicago White Sox took left-hander Shane Drohan at No. 4 from the Boston system. Drohan was a fifth-round pick in 2020 out of Florida State, and White Sox general manager Chris Getz said they have some history with Drohan from his time with the Seminoles.

Drohan spent time at Double-A Portland and Triple-A Worcester in 2023.

"We got some early spring training looks on him this year, and we liked what we saw,” Getz said. “An opportunity to take a shot on an arm we feel has the potential to have some survival skills at the major level to begin with and long-term, a little bit of upside that could potentially be a rotation piece.”

The New York Mets took right-hander Justin Slaten from the Rangers’ system at No. 8, then traded him to Boston for minor league lefty Ryan Ammons.

Slaten, 26, had a 2.7 ERA at Double-A and Triple-A for the Rangers this year. Texas took him in the third round of the 2019 amateur draft., The Mets got Ammons, 22, who was a 10th-round pick in July's amateur draft out of Clemson.

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AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB

Teresa M. Walker, The Associated Press