Six years ago today, the Devil Rays sold Jose Bautista to the Royals, who became the utilityman's fourth organization in seven months. It was just the beginning of a turbulent summer for Bautista, who would return to the Pirates in a three-team deal in July of 2004. Back then, Bautista was intriguing enough for teams to want him, but not quite good enough for them to keep him. Today, he's leading the American League with 20 homers.
The Pirates made Bautista available in the 2003 Rule 5 draft and acquired him back the next July. In between, Bautista was the property of the Orioles, the Devil Rays, the Royals and, briefly, the Mets. He didn't play particularly often or particularly well for any of the four teams he suited up for in 2004. Bautista played third base and all three outfield positions but didn't flash the combination of patience and power that has turned him into a valuable big leaguer.
Bautista has led the Blue Jays to a league-leading 115 homers and he's fourth in the Junior Circuit with 47 walks. Some Rule 5 picks, like Dan Uggla, start contributing immediately, but Bautista's history shows that some picks take longer to develop. Who knows - maybe Kanekoa Texeira, a Rule 5 pick in his third organization of 2010, will be an All-Star caliber player within a few years.