Baltimore Orioles: Getting You Ready For The Rule 5 Draft
The Winter Meetings come to a close today in San Diego with the Rule 5 draft. Here’s everything you need to know
Happy Holidays, Baltimore Orioles fans! If you are ready for some offseason action in Birdland, today is your day. At 12 pm EST (9 am PST), Major League Baseball will conclude the 2019 Winter Meetings with the annual Rule 5 draft. For the Orioles, this event has been a popular method of acquiring roster pieces.
Since the 2006 Rule 5 draft, the Baltimore Orioles have selected at least one player every single year, including three back in 2018 with RHP Pedro Araujo, RHP Nestor Cortes Jr. and RHP Jose Mesa Jr. None of them are still with the organization.
The Orioles will have the second pick in today’s draft, but unlike last year when Baltimore had the first overall pick and shortstop Richie Martin was clearly the top pick, there’s no definite favorite for who the Detroit Tigers will take number one overall or who the Orioles will select with the second pick.
Speaking with the media to wrap up Wednesday’s Winter Meetings activities, general manager Mike Elias told reporters that he doesn’t know who he will select, but he will likely target a rotation candidate. The Orioles need arms, lots of them. Fortunately for Baltimore, this year’s Rule 5 draft has a few arms worthy of a look who have experience in the upper-minors and have a higher probability of sticking on the active roster, compared to a middle infielder out of A-ball.
There’s my personal favorite in Washington Nationals minor league RHP Sterling Sharp, who we discussed in detail earlier this week. I encourage you to check out that piece here. Other intriguing names include RHP Zack Brown of the Milwaukee Brewers. Brown was the Southern League Pitcher of the Year in 2018 (Double-A ball), but stumbled in his first full year of Triple-A action in 2019.
RHP Ljay Newsome of the Seattle Mariners is another very interesting name. He’s undersized (5’11”) and doesn’t have the high velocity numbers, but he has impeccable control, walking just 2.2% of hitters last season in 100 innings in High-A ball. He also logged 53 more innings between Double-A and Triple-A, while maintaining a walk rate of around 4%.
The Orioles have 38 players on the 40-man roster, so they can make two selections, if they wish. If the right person is there in the second round, I don’t think Mike Elias hesitates to make another pick. There’s no harm in having them come to spring training camp and returning them back to their original organization if things don’t work out.
Will the Baltimore Orioles lose anyone?
With all the talk of who the Orioles will select, is there a chance they lose one of the Top 30 prospects they left unprotected? Chances are slim, but with active rosters expanding to 26 players next season, more teams could become active in the Rule 5 draft.
RHP Cody Sedlock (17th-ranked prospect) had a fantastic 2019 season after two injury-plagued seasons and struggles since the Orioles used a first-round pick on him back in 2016. Sedlock fanned 100 hitters across 95 innings between High-A and Double-A ball, held opponents to a .202 average, and recorded a 2.84 ERA.
Despite his success, it’s hard to imagine Sedlock sticking around on a major league roster for a full season. Hopefully, other teams stay away and we get to see what he can do in a year of pitching in Double-A.
RHP Gray Fenter (30th ranked prospect) is also available. His unprotected status left a number of fans upset, but he turns 24 next month and hasn’t reached High-A ball. He made a name for himself in 2019 after striking out 123 hitters over 94 innings with the Delmarva Shorebirds and holding opponents to a .185 average and should have the opportunity to start rising up the organization a little faster, once he clears through the Rule 5 draft and remains with the Orioles.
Catcher Brett Cumberland was also left unprotected and was once a Top 30 prospect of the Orioles after coming over via trade in 2018. Cumberland appeared in just 60 games across three levels last season, hitting .257 with a .404 on-base percentage and 19 extra-base hits. His defensive abilities are severely limited behind the plate, but that OBP is impressive and he does possess a well-regarded hit tool.
More from Birds Watcher
- Orioles News: O’s Sign Adam Frazier and Other MLB News
- Baltimore Orioles Sign Adam Frazier
- Orioles News: Projecting Grayson Rodriguez’s Debut and Other MLB News
- Exclusive FanDuel, DraftKings Maryland Promo Expiring: Bet $20, Win $600 Before It’s Too Late
- Rumor: Baltimore Orioles Interested In Michael Wacha
All three players are likely safe, but with expanded rosters, more teams electing not to compete on a yearly basis, and the uncertainty surrounding this year’s draft, anything is possible.
Don’t forget that after the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft, there is a Triple-A and Double-A phase. Players selected in the minor league portions of the draft don’t have to remain on the active roster.
Last year, the Baltimore Orioles selected RHP Taylor Grover from the Cincinnati Reds organization (Grover is no longer with the Orioles). The Orioles lost RHP Jefferson Medina (Texas Rangers), OF Randolph Gassaway (Pittsburgh Pirates), IF Corban Joseph (Oakland A’s), and 1B Wilson Garcia (Cleveland Indians).
You can listen to an audio stream of the draft over at MLB.com beginning at 12 pm EST. You can also follow us on Twitter @BirdsWatcherFS where we will be talking about the results all afternoon long.