NASHVILLE -- Rule 5 draft picks are long shots to begin with. But if the Marlins' selection of outfielder Alfredo Silverio pans out, it'll be one of the comeback stories of the year.
Silverio, a 25-year-old product of the Dominican Republic and Dodgers farm system, was seriously injured in an auto accident last January and did not play at all in 2012. Silverio suffered back, shoulder, elbow and neck injuries and dealt with concussion symptoms weeks after the accident. Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said Silverio also required Tommy John surgery due to the accident.
But Silverio had a breakout year at Double A Chattanooga in 2011 and the Marlins felt he was worth the gamble in the Rule 5, selecting him with the sixth overall pick. Silverio hit .306 with 16 home runs and 85 RBI for the Dodgers' Double A farm club in '11 and also hit a home run in that year's Futures Game.
"The outfielder is an interesting case in that he had a big year in 2011 in Double A and was (then) in a very bad car accident," Beinfest said. "He was really hurt, banged up, missed the whole year. But we thought based on what we saw in 2011 and based on whatever information that we could get, that it was a reasonable risk to bring him in. We really like him in center field. If he's not completely healthy, we understand that as well."
Beinfest said the team envisions Silverio as a center fielder. But, due to his recovery from Tommy John surgery, he won't resume throwing until next month. The Marlins would likely start him out on the disabled list, and it could be mid-season before he is ready to play.
Under Rule 5 rules, the Marlins are paying the Dodgers $50,000 to take Silverio. If Silverio doesn't remain on the 25-man roster for the entire season once activated, he would be returned to the Dodgers and the Marlins would receive back half of the money.
"We anticipate he may not be ready to go in spring training," Beinfest said. "We know that up front. We may have to carry him on the DL for a while. But we want to take a look at this kid. We think there's a lot of upside. And he performed at 23, he was awesome in Double A."
The Marlins made one other selection in Thursday's draft, taking left-handed pitcher Braulio Lara with their second pick. Lara, 23, went 6-10 with a 5.71 ERA last season at Charlotte, the High-A affiliate of the Rays. Beinfest said Lara would be considered for a bullpen role.
"Big arm, throws strikes," Beinfest said. "We think we may have something. You take a chance on a lefty. The one thing on him, he only pitched into High A, so it could be a little bit of a reach, but we think it's a good opportunity. We'll take a look."
Lara features a high-90s fastball, slider and change.
The Rule 5 Draft was the last official order of business at the Winter Meetings but the Marlins aren't done doing business. They're still on the hunt for a third baseman.
"We have some offers out (to free agents)," Beinfest said. "And we have a couple of trade ideas. We would like to do it sooner rather than later. We'd like to at least have that comfort level that we have some competition over there."