Former Cal and Bishop O'Dowd High star infielder Jeff Kobernus is property of the Detroit Tigers after being selected Thursday in Major League Baseball's Rule 5 draft.
Kobernus was taken from the Washington Nationals organization by the Boston Red Sox with the seventh pick and then traded to the American League champion Tigers for minor leaguer Justin Henry.
Kobernus, 24, is a second baseman who the Tigers believe could also play the outfield, making him a more attractive bench option for their major league club. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Kobernus hit .282 in 82 games at Double-A Harrisburg in the National' system this season. The San Leandro product stole 95 bases during the past two seasons after the Nationals drafted him in the second round of the 2009 amateur draft.
"He has a lot of speed and a lot of athleticism," Tigers president and general manger Dave Dombrowski told the Detroit News. "He's a hard-nosed, character guy."
Like all players selected in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft, Kobernus must make the 25-man active roster this season or be offered back to his original team for half of the $50,000 purchase price of each Rule 5 pick. The only way Rule 5 picks can remain in the minor leagues is if a trade is worked out with the player's original club.
The Tigers also swung a trade for another Rule 5 pick, acquiring 23-year-old left-handed pitcher Kyle Lobstein from the New York Mets for cash considerations. The Mets selected Lobstein from Tampa Bay.
Nationals assistant general manager Bryan Minniti told the Washington Post that he was disappointed to lose Kobernus and Lobstein.
"You obviously never want to lose any players," Minniti said. "You set your rosters, you know you're always taking chances on losing any of your prospects. It's never good to lose a left-handed starting pitching prospect and a middle infield prospect. You wish them well, you wish them luck. At the end of the day, you hope you get them back at some point in the next year."
Should Kobernus remain with the Tigers, he wouldn't have to wait long to make his return to the East Bay. Detroit will be in Oakland during the second week of the season for a three-game series April 12-14.