Tim Berry, Eddie Gamboa and Michael Ohlman aren’t big name Orioles prospects. None was drafted high nor have they come close to making the major leagues.
But, each was making enough progress that the Orioles rewarded the three on Wednesday by including them on their 40-man roster. Berry, Gamboa and Ohlman’s additions give the team 36
A year ago, the Orioles thanked Zach Clark for his hard work by adding him to their 40-man. Clark was an undrafted free agent who spent seven years in the minors, and he briefly reached the majors in 2013.
Clark was returned to the minors and learned a knuckleball. His results weren’t promising.
Gamboa has also become a knuckleballer, and his record was much better.
In his sixth season as a professional, Gamboa who was a 21st round draft pick in 2008, had a 6-11 record with a 4.43 ERA with Bowie and Norfolk.
Working with Phil Niekro, the soon to be 29 year-old Gamboa has gotten better at the knuckleball, and he’ll add a little fun to his first big league spring training.
Matt Wieters and the other Orioles catchers will have to use an oversize mitt, and watching the knuckleball dance on the back fields of Ed Smith Stadium will liven up the early days of the spring.
Berry was chosen in the 50th round in 2009, the Orioles’ final pick that year. No player chosen in that by the Orioles has played in the majors.
After a strong season at Frederick, where he was 11-7 with a 3.85 ERA, Berry was sent to the Arizona Fall League where he performed well, and now has been added to the roster.
Berry will probably begin the season at Bowie, but in the early weeks of spring training, manager Buck Showalter will get a look at him.
His story is one that won’t be equaled since baseball now limits its draft to 40 rounds.
Ohlman, who was picked in the 11th round in 2008, has already been to spring training due to a shortage of catchers. A product of nearby Bradenton, Ohlman had a truncated 2012 due to a 50-game suspension for use of a recreational drug. He also was involved in a car accident.
In 2013, Ohlman, who turns 23 next month, batted .313 with 13 home runs and 53 RBIs in Frederick where he was named the Carolina League’s Player of the Year. He also played in the AFL.
He’ll need to show the Orioles, who don’t have catching depth in the high minors, that he can handle pitchers at Bowie in 2014.
The most prominent name left off the 40-man roster was Caleb Joseph. He’s been in the organization since 2008, when he was picked 11th.
Joseph, who’s now 27, blossomed as a hitter in 2013, but there are still major questions about his defense. Nominally a catcher, Joseph played fewer than half his games there for Bowie.
He had a terrific year offensively, batting .297 with 22 home runs and 99 RBIs for the Baysox. Joseph has only played 22 games at Triple-A, and didn’t earn a September callup.
It will be interesting to see if a team takes a chance on him in the Rule 5. If not, he’ll probably get a relatively long look in spring training by the Orioles.
The best Orioles prospects from recent years, Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, have already played in the majors, so they’re already on the 40-man.
The other top prospects, Eduardo Rodriguez, Mike Wright and Hunter Harvey don’t have to added yet.
Five players have been added to the 40-man roster this week. Relievers Kelvin De La Cruz and Edgmer Escalona are the others.
De La Cruz is apparently out of options according to MLBTradeRumors, and will have to be exposed to waivers if the Orioles want to send him to the minors.
The Orioles haven’t decided what to do with Brian Matusz and Troy Patton. They could be traded, but they now have added De La Cruz and Chris Jones to their left-handed stock. Another left-hander, Mike Belfiore also remains on the 40-man.
Escalona is a candidate from the right side. Jim Johnson, Tommy Hunter and Darren O’Day will return. Francisco Rodriguez will not.
With four openings on the 40-man and the Rule 5 draft not for three two more weeks, it’s possible that additional free agents will be signed before then.
Given their success with Ryan Flaherty and T.J. McFarland over the last two years, it’s likely that they’ll again try to snare an overlooked player in the draft.