Baltimore Orioles: 40-Man Roster Grows to 37


Mar 6, 2014; Jupiter, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox right fielder Alex Hassan (68) at bat against the Boston Red Sox at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

In advance of the Thursday midnight deadline to set a 40-man roster, the Baltimore Orioles added three additional players to move their total to 37. The headroom leaves space for free agents or additional moves, even as it also exposes a number of minor league players to the possibility of the Rule 5 Draft on December 11th.

So this in interesting as much in terms of who was not added to the list as to who did indeed get included. There was no surprise to see the good arms of legit prospects RHPs Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson to be added. However, there was expectation of one or two others: Brian Ward or Parker Bridwell in particular, and possibly Mychal Givens.

Two factors play into this:

First, most organizations and general managers are not as interested in using the Rule 5 Draft as is Dan Duquette. This process that brought T.J. McFarland and Ryan Flaherty into the Orioles’ nest is not easy to accomplish. Tuned-in O’s fans over the 2012 and 2013 seasons will certainly recall how it hampered roster moves at times, essentially making it a 24-man active roster.

For some stats on this annual draft … in 2013 there were nine picks and three worked out; in 2012 there were 15 picks and six worked out; and in 2011 there were 12 picks and seven worked out.

Secondly, the Orioles are betting that even if some of the primary names mentioned above that are not protected do get taken, the chances are reasonably good that the Birds will get them back since the players are not at a sufficient level to be kept in the majors for an entire season.

We may recall that at this time a year ago, concern was great that Caleb Joseph was not put on the 40-man roster and was subjected to the Rule 5 Draft. I thought for sure he was a goner and could not believe that some team did not claim him. His numbers were frankly way, way beyond the statistical level of any Orioles minor leaguer of concern for exposure this year.

Of the three singled out above, Brian Ward is the most vulnerable (from the O’s perspective … he probably would personally love to get drafted). Defensively he is totally capable to serve well as a backup catcher in the majors, though his career minor league batting average is just .237.

Maybe the Tampa Bay Rays could use him; they yesterday designated the punchless Jose Molina who was 40-for-225 (.178) with 38 singles and two doubles.

But the Orioles could not add a fifth catcher to the 40-man roster. The abundance here is the result of active efforts over the course of Duquette’s management to particularly build the system’s depth in this position. The same will happen over time with other positions of need as the entire farm is expanded with quality players.

Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson are just about ready to be contributors. Check back in coming days for specific remarks on these and other rising minor leaguers from an O’s pitching coach.

More from Baltimore Orioles

Also on Thursday the Orioles added 26-year-old Alex Hassan, who was released by the Red Sox. The OF/1B may well have been a Sox fan, being from Quincy, Massachusetts … after which he was drafted out of Duke University.

I encourage readers to click the link on Hassan’s name and look at his minor league statistics. They are very, very impressive. He is not especially a power hitter or speedster, but his OBP is stellar. Over his entire minor league career, his BA/OBP is .291/.396 and his AAA numbers are .282/.387.  The Red Sox could not find a way to keep this?