Orioles stockpile left-handed relievers

Orioles stockpile left-handed relievers
November 19, 2013, 8:30 am
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The Orioles’ acquisition of Kelvin De La Cruz on Monday wasn’t a headline transaction. But, it wasn’t necessarily a minor one.

De La Cruz has never pitched in the major leagues. At 25, he spent his first season at Triple-A in 2013. He’s been in professional baseball since 2006 with the Cleveland, Detroit and Los Angeles Dodgers organization.

He is a left-hander, and struck out more than a batter per inning in Albuquerque. De La Cruz was also wild, averaging more than five walks per nine innings.

The Orioles currently have lots of room on their 40-man roster. De La Cruz’s signing gives them 32, and between now and the Winter Meetings, they’ll add to that number by signings and additions from their minor league system.

De La Cruz is the second left-hander added to the roster in the last few weeks. Chris Jones, who pitched at Norfolk after his acquisition from Atlanta for Luis Ayala is now on the 40-man, too.

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Ayala was dealt because the Orioles wanted to keep T.J. McFarland, and because he was a Rule 5 pick, they couldn’t send him down. De La Cruz is in effect a Rule 5 pick without the encumbrances.

Over the last two years, the Orioles have had great success with Rule 5 picks. McFarland was picked last year, Ryan Flaherty the year before, and they’ll probably pick up another player this year.

De La Cruz is on the same level of pitchers they’ll be looking at, and with Jones and McFarland, it gives them another left-handed option.

Brian Matusz and Troy Patton are left-handed incumbents, but their return in 2014 isn’t guaranteed and McFarland could start the season in the minors if the team contemplates converting him to a starter.