Jul 3, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Chicago Cubs left fielder Julio Borbon (20) slides into third base after hitting a triple during the seventh inning of the game against the Oakland Athletics at O.Co Coliseum. Chicago Cubs defeated the Oakland Athletics 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles: Rule 5 Draft – The Good News and the Bad News


Imagine being a pretty good baseball player who has spent a lot of years in the minor leagues – kind of getting close to breaking through to the big show, but always bumping your head on the ceiling. The Rule 5 Draft is a long-shot chance for you to break out of this “Groundhog Day” cycle of the same thing happening year after year.

Imagine also that you are a third baseman. You signed really, really young for a nice sum … with big dreams of a great future. You looked like a sure deal. But years later, you’re still riding buses instead of airplanes.

Now imagine getting a call, and the voice tells you that you have been selected in the Rule 5 Draft! Yes!! That’s good news for sure … but then, here’s the bad news – it is by the Baltimore Orioles. Third base … Baltimore … Manny Machado … Crap!  That guy is two years younger, but, he’s already been a major league all star.

OK… so… Machado had a knee surgery, and maybe he won’t be quite ready on April 1st, but it shouldn’t be too long after that you would reason. You think to yourself, “What am I, just a cheap insurance policy?”

Yep.

“But hey … I can play first base too! Maybe that will be a ….. oh geez, Chris Davis, 53 home runs.”

Entering the Mind of Dan Duquette

Some people’s train of thought is a slow moving freight train. For others, it is a fast-moving commuter train that never stops long anywhere. Duquette’s mind? It is more like a train that ignores all schedules; and if it is not off the tracks, it is running on lines heretofore unknown.

So, let me see the hands of all of you out there who thought DD was going to make a Rule 5 pick?  OK, that is almost all of you. Now, how many of you saw the pick being a third baseman? Yes, that’s what I thought.

Michael Almanzar was taken by the Orioles out of the Boston Red Sox organization. A six-year minor leaguer originally from the Dominican Republic, he hit .268 for the AA Portland Sea Dogs this past year with 81 RBIs and 16 homers.

Unlike Ryan Flaherty and T.J. McFarland – Rule 5 picks the past two years – it is difficult to imagine the Orioles being able to keep Almanzar for the full season. He is going to have to really light it up to stick, though maybe the Birds feel like Boston will keep the money and not take him back when that time would probably come.

AAA Portion of the Rule 5 Draft – Julio Borbon

In an additional move, the Orioles picked up left-handed hitting Julio Borbon out of the Chicago Cubs organization in the AAA portion of the draft. This seems to make more obvious sense, especially since he does not have to be kept on the 25-man roster. At age 28, Borbon has more experience, including being in the majors with the Rangers and Cubs.

Borbon has a .500 career batting average in the World Series!  No, I did not make that up. He was on the Rangers in the 2010 playoffs and World Series, and he had a singe in two at bats against the Giants. As a first-round pick of the Rangers in 2007, he has .304 career average in the minor leagues and a .272 average in the majors … though he was only .202 with the Cubs in 117 plate appearances in 2013. Here are Borbon’s MLB stats…

Year

Age

Tm

G

PA

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

CS

BB

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

2009

23

TEX

46

179

157

30

49

4

0

4

20

19

4

15

28

.312

.376

.414

.790

2010

24

TEX

137

468

438

60

121

11

4

3

42

15

7

19

59

.276

.309

.340

.649

2011

25

TEX

32

98

89

10

24

1

3

0

11

6

2

3

9

.270

.305

.348

.654

2013

27

TEX

1

1

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

.000

.000

.000

.000

2013

27

CHC

72

117

104

10

21

3

1

1

3

7

1

12

22

.202

.284

.279

.563

He looks a bit like a Felix Pie type of player … forget that I said that. But of the two picks, Duquette said,

“Borbon, believe it or not, is a left-handed-hitting outfielder that fills a need that we were looking for in our big league team. He’s had some good contribution in the Major Leagues, getting on base with his bat, playing defense and also with his legs. So we like these players. They grew up around baseball. They have tools. One is a left-handed hitter, one is a right-handed hitter. We think they can both help our team.”

More Good News!

The Orioles did not lose anyone in the Rule 5 Draft – including Caleb Joseph. I don’t “get” why Joseph is not more highly valued both within and without the organization. I understand that he is never going to win a gold glove, but still … gonna do some more research on this.

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Tags: Baltimore Orioles Julio Borbon Michael Almanzar