With the 2013 Rule 5 Draft coming up on December 12, I thought I'd take a look at the 22 selections the Padres have made over the years. I was planning on breaking them down by decades - and I might still - but the first guy on the list has such a fascinating story that he deserves his own post.
The 1968 Rule 5 Draft was the first for the yet-to-play expansion Padres. With their sole pick, they selected a familiar face. Bobby Klaus, a veteran infielder who played in the majors with the Reds and Mets in 1964 and '65, played five full seasons with the AAA Pacific Coast League San Diego Padres, first in 1962 and '63, and then again from 1966 through '68. So he changed organizations without as much as finding a new parking spot.
In Klaus's five years with the minor league iteration of the Padres, the fewest games he played in a season was 138. That was in 1968 as a 30-year-old 10-year-veteran who spent the second half of the season pulling double duty as a player-manager. Klaus batted just .232 with a pair of homers in 492 at-bats, but he did draw 107 walks to bump his on-base percentage up to .370, one point better than his career mark.
I suspect Klaus was selected less for his on-field acumen as he was for his fan-favorite status. Either way, the locals never got to see him take the field at San Diego Stadium as a big leaguer. Klaus was traded to Pittsburgh with Ron Davis about a week before the team's inaugural game. In return the Padres got pitcher Tommie Sisk and catcher Chris Cannizzaro, who that year became the team's first All-Star. A default choice maybe, but an All-Star none the less.
Klaus didn't make it back up to the majors with Pittsburgh that year and retired after hitting .201 over 69 games with AAA Columbus. Times being what they were, people noticed that instead of his .431 OBP. While he never again got the phone call every AAA player waits for, Klaus did get the interesting distinction of having a baseball card of him as an active player issued four years after his last major league game.
I tried to find out more about Klaus's offseason job with the Union-Tribune, but came up empty. I wonder what he did there and if he went back after his playing days were over. If you know anything about that or him in general, I'd be glad to hear about it.