Baltimore Orioles Add Four New Players In Rule 5 Draft
The 2019 Rule 5 Draft was held on Thursday and the Baltimore Orioles selected two pitchers in the MLB phase and an outfielder and infielder in the AAA phase.
The Major League Baseball Winter Meetings in San Diego, California concluded on Thursday with the annual Rule 5 Draft. The draft can provide a new opportunity for players who have not yet reached the major leagues, based on their age when originally drafted (four years for 19-year-olds and five for 18-year-olds). It’s typically been a popular way to acquire additional players for the Baltimore Orioles.
Teams were allowed to make selections based on the number of open spots they had on their respective 40-man rosters; the Orioles roster was at 38 so they could take a maximum of two players and that is what they did.
The Baltimore Orioles selected two right-handed pitchers, Brandon Bailey from the Houston Astros in the first round and Michael Rucker from the Chicago Cubs in the second round. Both of these pitchers must remain on the Orioles’ 40-man roster for the entirety of the 2020 season or be offered back to the clubs that lost them.
Bailey, originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the Oakland Athletics, arrived in Houston in a trade for outfielder Ramon Laureano after the 2017 season. Most recently, he made 17 starts for the Corpus Christi Hooks of the Texas League (AA) where he compiled a 4-5 record with a 3.30 ERA over 22 total appearances. Known for possessing a high spin rate on his four-seam fastball, Bailey had a 26.7% strike rate, averaged 10.0 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched and struck out 2.5 batters for every walk he allowed.
A reunion with both Mike Elias and Sig Mejdal, formerly of the Astros organization, should bode well for Bailey’s future in Baltimore as he is expected to be in the mix for the 2020 Orioles rotation.
MLB Pipeline immeidately placed Bailey 21st on the Orioles Top 30 prospect list, just behind LHP Alex Wells (20th) and just ahead of shortstop Cadyn Grenier (22nd).
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Rucker was drafted in the 11th round of the 2016 draft by the Cubs and spent the majority of the 2019 season pitching for the Tennessee Smokies of the Southern League (AA). Pitching out of the bullpen, Rucker made 34 appearances and pitched to an 0-3 record with one save in four opportunities and a 4.28 ERA over 75.2 innings of work. He struck out 89 while walking 22 and allowing a .263 batting average against. He has a nice four-pitch mix and should provide some depth to the Baltimore bullpen in 2020.
Adding to the organizational depth, the Orioles selected outfielder Cristopher Cespedes and infielder Wilbis Santiago, both from the Indians in the AAA phase.
Cespedes slashed .326/ .386/ .543 with 38 runs scored, six home runs and 33 RBI in the Arizona League (Rookie) this past season while Santiago, playing mainly for the Lynchburg Hillcats (A-Adv.), slashed .310/ .340/ .418 with 22 runs scored, one home run and 21 RBI.
The Orioles continued their tradition of supplementing their roster via the Rule 5 draft. The selections of Bailey and Rucker will increase the level of competition for spots in spring training while Cespedes and Santiago add to the organization’s talent pipeline.
Stay tuned to Birds Watcher as we follow the progress of these four in 2020 and beyond.