The Angels have returned right-hander Jose Alberto Rivera, their pick in the most recent Rule 5 Draft, to the Astros, according to a club announcement.
Rivera, 24, pitched just one inning in an official spring game for the Halos, though he’d spent the entirety of camp working out with the club. He ranked as Houston’s No. 18 prospect at Baseball America in the 2019-20 offseason and was tabbed 11th among Angels farmhands by BA this winter. However, Rivera also hasn’t pitched above A-ball, and carrying him for a full season would give the Angels five bullpen arms who can’t be optioned to the minors (joining closer Raisel Iglesias and relievers Mike Mayers, Alex Claudio and Junior Guerra).
It’s common for Rule 5 picks to be returned this time of year, particularly by clubs with postseason aspirations, as the Halos have. The Angels also hadn’t signed either Claudio or Guerra at the time they selected Rivera, and both moves further restricted their ability to experiment with keeping the hard-throwing righty on the roster. Rivera’s most recent minor league action came in the Class-A Midwest League in 2019, when he tossed 75 2/3 frames of 3.81 ERA ball with a 29.8 percent strikeout rate and an 11.3 percent walk rate.