The Baltimore Orioles have four Rule 5 Guys likely to start the season including Joey Rickard, how great will their impact be?
The Baltimore Orioles seem to utilize the Rule 5 Draft more often than most other teams. This past Off-Season the Orioles used this Draft as an opportunity to sign Joey Rickard, who was surprisingly not added to the Tampa Bays 40-Man roster, and based on his Spring numbers, this could be Baltimore’s best Rule 5 pick to date.
It took Baltimore 13 Spring Training games before they finally got their first victory but there’s been a lot of progression within the crew. A lot of the losing was due to the pitching staff knocking the rust off while adjusting their second and third pitches. Most players, especially pitchers, have been focused on getting their “work” in. They have a goal as to how many innings they want to log in before the season starts. Zach Britton started two innings in Minor League Spring Camp for this very reason.
Now that we’re halfway through the Spring, the guys are taking winning in Spring a bit more seriously as Baltimore have gone 3-1-1 in their last five games. The guys are working towards finding a rhythm so the pitching is tightening up and the bats are becoming alive. Now is when you really start seeing the young players compete and the starters hone in on their skills.
As I look at the way the Orioles roster is shaping up, I can’t help but notice the number of Rule 5 guys they’ll have aboard to start the season and they all have a great chance to make an impact within their roles. The list of Orioles players likely to be on the 25-Man, that were once acquired via the Rule 5 Draft, include Darren O’Day, Ryan Flaherty, T.J. McFarland, and this year Joey Rickard.
Yes, O’Day wasn’t acquired by Baltimore via the Rule 5 but he is a product of the Rule 5 Draft. He was drafted by the Mets in December 2008, and although two weeks into the season he was released, he was then picked up by the Rangers and his career began. Texas is where Baltimore originally gained their interest in the feisty side-armer before picking him up off of waivers in November of 2011, and boy did that work out. His hard work earned him the 4-yr $31 Million dollar contract.
O’Day is clearly going to have a huge impact this season, he could quite possibly be considered the best set up man in the AL, but he’s not the only Rule 5 reliever on staff. Baltimore drafted T.J. McFarland in Dec of 2012 from Cleveland as a potential Starting Pitcher. According to Dan Duquette at the time (quote courtesy of Brittany Ghiroli of mlb.com):
We know he has a knack for winning games, and hopefully that knack will translate to the Major Leagues.
Now has this happened yet? No not so much but what can be said is he has become stronger and better every year. Although he may not have his chance at starting, he will most likely have a chance to make an impact out of the bullpen. McFarland is the Orioles best choice as a left handed long man whom still has one option left, which, as we saw in 2015 is a hot commodity in Baltimore.
Ryan Flaherty’s offensive numbers have never been that impressive, posting a career .215 Avg, .282 OBP, and mere .375 Slg, but he does have a great knack for defensive. He is the only true Utility Player that Baltimore has, which makes him very valuable. The only two positions he doesn’t play are Pitcher and Catcher. He’s started out the Spring on fire, second on the team with a .360 avg. His demeanor has also noticeably changed, he finally looms comfortable in his own skin. Of he can carry that into the regular season, he’s sure to be a weapon off the bench.
Last but not least, Dan Duquette’s “biggest surprise of the Off-Season “, Joey Rickard. I watched Joey tear through Tampa’s minor league system last year, unknowing he would be this past years Rule 5 pick. When I read the news I was ecstatic, knowing exactly what we were getting, and he hasn’t let me down yet.
As has been mentioned on numerous occasions but Duquette and Showalter, Rickard has great defensive abilities in every position of the outfield. Baltimore has never had a true back-up for Adam Jones at Center, which largely played a role in the pressure Jones felt to play through injuries. Rickard is no “One Trick Pony”, he also has a great bat and speed to boot. He’s 3rd in Avg this Spring, behind Schoop and Flaherty, and has a Homer and 4 RBI’s and shows no symptoms of allowing down.
With Hyun-Soo Kim finding it difficult to adjust to the MLB and Mark Trumbo still learning the RF position, there’s a very good chance Rickard will find himself given many regular season opportunities to make an impact. With as many tools as he has I am confident he will do so. With that being said, I feel Rickard will prove to be the best Rule 5 guy Baltimore has ever drafted.