Over the past two years, the Rule 5 Draft has become as important to Baltimore Orioles fans as free agency, with the team routinely using the draft to add to the major league club.
Ryan Flaherty, Anthony Santander, and Richie Martin were all Rule 5 players that have filled roles for the team. While future major league greats are rarely selected in the Rule 5 Draft, gems can be found by savvy GM’s. Johan Santana, Josh Hamilton, Shane Victorino, and old Orioles nemesis George Bell were all former Rule 5 players.
Rule 5 eligibility can get a bit complicated and messy. The full definition can be found on the MLB site. Baseball America does a great job of putting it in layman’s terms.
The Orioles used the opportunity today to select three major league players (players that must be kept on the active 26-man major league roster for the entire upcoming season) and two Triple-A players. Let’s take a look at each below.
Brandon Bailey (Houston Astros), Pitcher:
Bailey was selected by the Oakland Athletics in the sixth round of the 2016 draft out of Gonzaga. The 25-year-old right-hander spent all of 2019 pitching in Double-A, making 17 starts and 22 appearances overall.
Bailey struck out 103 in 92 2/3 innings, while sporting a 3.30 ERA. Bailey has found success in the minors, pitching to a 3.07 ERA in four seasons.
The Athletics traded Bailey to the Astros after the 2017 season for outfielder Ramon Laureano. Fangraphs ranked Bailey as the Astros No. 26 overall prospect. Most scouts feel that his stuff plays better as a middle reliever than a starter. Look for him to fill that role with the Orioles in 2020 before possibly seeing some time in Triple-A in 2021.
Michael Rucker (Chicago Cubs), Pitcher:
Rucker was drafted by the Cubs in the 11th round of the 2016 draft out of BYU. In 2019 Rucker spent most of the year at Double-A, before appearing in two Triple-A games.
The right-hander had a 4.19 ERA for the year to go along with 93 strikeouts in 73.2 innings pitching out of the bullpen. Rucker tops out at 93-94 mph on his fastball and has a nice sweeping slider. His curve and changeup, however, are not developed likely limiting him to mop-up duty for the Orioles this year.
Cristopher Cespedes (Cleveland Indians, minor league), Outfield:
Cespedes spent 2019 on the Indians’ Rookie League team, batting .326 with six home runs and four stolen bases in 184 at-bats. The Indians signed Cespedes out of the Dominican Republic in 2014 when he was 16 years old. Cespedes has a line-drive stroke with a strong arm.
Wilbis Santiago (Cleveland Indians, minor league), Infield:
Santiago spent 2019 playing Single-A ball, recording one home run and one stolen base in 250 at-bats. Santiago was signed by the Indians at the age of 19 out of the Dominican. Santiago is a good defender and can hit for average but has little power or speed.
The Orioles lost two of their own players during the Triple-A rounds of the draft. Pitchers Ruben Garcia and Jhon Peluffo were selected by the Tigers and the Indians respectively.
Also, pitchers Cody Sedlock and Gray Fenter, along with catcher Brett Cumberland were not selected by any teams, so they will all remain in the organization.
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