In 2000, the Orioles drafted Jay Gibbons from the Toronto Blue Jays in the Rule 5 draft. It turned out to be an excellent pick.
Gibbons was the only Orioles pick from 1997-2002. In 2003, they made a great selection, Jose Bautista, but whiffed when they waived him after 16 games. Tampa Bay and Kansas City made the same mistake. It wasn’t until 2010 that Bautista hit 54 home runs with Toronto.
Three years later, Alfredo Simon was selected from the Phillies, but was quickly flipped to the Phillies. He ended up back with the Orioles.
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Current Orioles Miguel Gonzalez and Darren O’Day were picked in the 2008 Rule 5 by other teams.
In the last two years, Ryan Flaherty and T.J. McFarland were both kept by the Orioles all season. Flaherty is nominally the starting second baseman as spring training begins.
McFarland may not start the season with the Orioles, but he should spend some quality time in Baltimore, and is looked upon as at least a decent prospect.
December’s pick is likely to have a rougher road. Michael Almanzar played for Boston’s Double-A Portland team last year and batted .268 with 16 home runs and 81 RBIs.
The right-handed hitter can play first and third, but it seems the only way he could make the club would be to help at designated hitter. If Delmon Young or Francisco Peguero doesn’t make the club, perhaps Almanzar can.
Almanzar has been in the Red Sox organization since 2004, and at 23, would normally play in Triple-A this year.
While his chances don’t look very good, at least Almanzar will get plenty of at-bats in spring games.