Former Binghamton University starting pitcher Scott Diamond was selected in the first round of Major League Baseball’s Rule 5 Draft by the Minnesota Twins Thursday morning. The move puts Diamond on the Twins’ major league roster.
Diamond, a left-hander who was with the BU baseball team from 2005 to 2007, was originally a member of the Atlanta Braves organization before being selected by the Twins at a cost of $50,000. As per the rules of the Rule 5 Draft, Diamond must remain on Minnesota’s 25-man major league roster for the entirety of the season, or else be offered back to the Braves for $25,000. While many Rule 5 Draft picks end up being returned to their original team by the end of spring training, notable exceptions include Josh Hamilton, Joakim Soria and Shane Victorino — in addition to Johan Santana, another left-handed starter taken by the Twins.
A former America East Rookie of the Year, Diamond is fourth on Binghamton’s all-time wins list and fifth in strikeouts. Diamond began the 2010 season with the Braves’ Double-A affiliate, Mississippi. He was later promoted to Triple-A Gwinnett, where he put up a 3.36 ERA, including a complete-game shutout, with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of better than 2-to-1.
Diamond says he didn’t find out immediately that he was drafted, because he was working out and didn’t have cell phone service. But once he did learn about being drafted, he said his initial reaction was shock.
“I always had hope that I’d have a chance to be picked up,” he said. “There’s always that possibility of it happening. It’s not a high percentage, but I was lucky to be one of the ones picked.”
His former coach at Binghamton, Tim Sinicki, is excited for him as well.
“It sounds like the selection today certainly will move him closer to realizing his dream of pitching in the big leagues,” Sinicki said. “So I think it’s a great opportunity for him … I think that while he’s been in pro ball, he’s really learned the art of pitching to a greater extent, understanding how to execute his pitches and set up hitters and those sorts of things.”
According to Mike Radcliff, vice president of player personnel for the Twins, the team’s interest in Diamond goes back to his college days.
“Well, we’ve been watching him ever since his days at Binghamton,” Radcliff said. “We have some needs on our pitching staff. He’s left-handed, he’s pitched in the higher levels of the major leagues … He’s got a four-pitch mix so he might be able to apply his pitches to about any role, and when you go through the statistical analysis on him, there’s a lot of positives: he doesn’t walk guys, he doesn’t give up home runs, he throws a lot of ground balls. There’s a lot of possibilities, a lot of things in his favor that give him a chance to make that 25-man roster, which is a difficult thing to do.”
The most likely potential landing spot for Diamond is in the bullpen. The Twins have six free agent relief pitchers, including fill-in closer Jon Rauch, former All-Star Brian Fuentes and Matt Guerrier. While Diamond has been a starter for his whole career, both he and the Twins believe he can make the adjustment. The spot is not guaranteed, though, as Radcliff notes that there are multiple internal candidates vying for a limited number of bullpen spots.
Regardless of the role or the outcome, Diamond is excited for the opportunity to compete for a job in the major leagues.
“At this point I just want to help contribute in any way that I can, and I’m happy the Twins are giving me the chance to … I feel like I’m ready to contribute and that I am ready to pitch on the big-league level,” Diamond said.