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Two Rule 5 picks could play a huge role for the Orioles

Like it or not, one of these rookies will be an important part of the roster in 2017 It’s looking like the Orioles are almost done making major additions to their roster, at least as far as the outfield is concerned. On Monday, established hitters Jose Bautista and Michael Saunders agreed to deals elsewhere [1]. And the only other rumors stirring involve sluggers like Mark Trumbo [2] and Chris Carter [3]; two men that should never play the outfield. Which, in all likelihood, means that at least one of the team’s two Rule 5 picks is going to make the Opening Day roster and be asked to contribute in a big way this summer. New faces in new places Just to recap, the Birds plucked two outfielders from the Rule 5 draft back in December [4]. Anthony Santander is a 22-year-old switch hitter [5] out of the Indians system. He slashed .290/.368/.494 with 20 home runs and 95 RBI last season, but was only playing at high-A Lynchburg. Aneury Tavarez is 24 years old and swings left-handed [6]. The O’s nabbed him from the Red Sox farm, where he hit .330/.374/.495 with seven homers, 47 RBI and 20 stolen bases between double-A Portland (106 games) and triple-A Pawtucket (five games) in 2016. According to MLB Pipeline [7], the two players have similar ceilings. Santander is listed as Baltimore’s 15th top prospect, whereas Taverez is down at 30th. However, they both earn “overall” grades of 45, which is basically average and slots them in at having the ability of a fringe everyday starter in MLB, but more likely a bench piece. The Orioles need more than that, if we’re honest. Adam Jones, detractors be damned, is the only outfielder on the roster that you can pencil in for all 162 games and feel confident in doing so. Seth Smith struggles against lefties. Joey Rickard does the same with righties. And Hyun Soo Kim is a questionable fielder. This team needs a clear-cut, starting quality corner outfielder. Neither of these gentlemen would seem to provide that. They can, however, still play an important role. Keeping them both It’s going to be almost impossible for the Orioles to hold onto two Rule 5 guys that play the same position. It is a similar situation as to what they had on their hands in 2015, when they selected pitchers Jason Garcia and Logan Verrett [8]. Each of them had a stand out Spring Training, but there was only room for one. Garcia, more than two years younger than Verrett, made the club. In order to get both Santander and Tavarez on the roster this year, the O’s are going to have to shed weight elsewhere. The obvious candidate is Rickard. He is coming off an injury-shortened rookie season where he had some dizzying highs and disappointing lows. His routes in the outfield need some serious improvement and he could handle seeing right-pitching in a lower pressure environment. Also, he has options. Options are like gold to the Orioles decision-makers. Picking one The more realistic outcome will be that these two fight it out in Spring Training with the winner ending up on the Opening Day roster and the other getting shipped back to their original parent club. It’s difficult enough to juggle around and protect one Rule 5 guy, putting two on a roster is just asking for trouble. So, who has the upper hand? Well, Santander is two-and-a-half years younger and a higher ranked prospect, which may mean he has higher upside. Plus, he has a big frame (6-foot-2, 190 lbs.) that looks like it could pack on some more weight and improve on his already impressive power at the plate. He passes the eye test and should be able to hit pitching at the highest level. Tavarez is a smaller guy (5-foot-9, 175 pounds) and may have already maxed out his body. But Tavarez is the superior fielder, has more experience in both corner outfield spots and is significantly faster. Plus, he has played at triple-A already, making the jump to MLB much easier. Santander has to transition all the way from high-A, which would mean completely skipping two levels. That doesn’t happen too often. Who comes out on top Tavarez has to be the favorite going into the spring. In this case, his experience is a big boost. Less projecting has to be done with him. His offensive skill set would seem to be solid if unimpressive. However, his speed and defense are valuable assets off the bench for Buck Showalter to deploy in place of Kim or Smith in the late innings of a close game. If the Orioles were a bad team with few aspirations this season, it may make sense to keep them both and bolster the roster for the future. But this is a team that wants to win now. Tavarez is the “win now” option that gives the club a dimension that they are lacking, a slick-fielding speedster. Santander is a power-first guy with less position flexibility, something they have had trouble with in the past. Whatever the outcome, this will be a fun storyline to follow from Sarasota. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]

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Baltimore Orioles pitcher Wade Miley
Miley's good start ends abruptly
 Wade Miley left Sunday's game with upper back cramps as he warmed up for the fifth inning. 
O'Day returns from disabled list
No one is happier that Darren O'Day is back than Brad Brach. 
Mancini gives Orioles extra bat
The Orioles purchased the contract of first baseman Trey Mancini from Norfolk, giving them an extra right-handed bat. 
Pearce expected to have surgery
Steve Pearce will surgery to repair a right flexor mass strain. The Orioles ended his season, placing him on the 60-day disabled list.
Can Miley deliver for Orioles?
Wade Miley has had a rough time in his first eight starts, Can he turn it around and get the Orioles a split of their four-game series with Tampa Bay? 
Orioles just can't shake Rays
For the second time in three games, the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Orioles, and they now trail Boston by three games in the AL East. 
Bowie has a big awards day
Bowie catcher Chance Sisco and Donnie Hart, who's now with the Orioles, received the team's top minor league awards. 
Two 200-strikeout seasons for Davis
For the second time in his career, Chris Davis has hit the 200-strikeout plataeu. 
Trumbo out, but improving
Mark Trumbo is out for the second straight game, but says his back spasms are improving. 
Baltimore Orioles pitcher Chris Tillman
Tillman looking for win No. 17
Chris Tillman tries for his 17th win against the Tampa Bay Rays. 
Orioles win in dramatic fashion against Rays
The Orioles scored three late runs and pulled off a 5-4 comeback win over the Tampa Bay Rays. 
Orioles could summon additional outfielder
Joey Rickard's return from a right thumb injury is questionable, and the Orioles may add another outfielder. 
Mark Trumbo of the Baltimore Orioles at the Home Run Derby
Trumbo out for Friday's game
Major league home run leader Mark Trumbo is out of Friday night's lineup due to back spasms. 
O'Day's simulated game goes well
The Orioles hope Darren O'Day will return on Sunday or Monday after his simulated game went well.
Baltimore Orioles pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez
Can Jimenez duplicate his Rays magic?
The last time Ubaldo Jimenez pitched against the Tampa Bay Rays, he threw his first complete game in more than five years. Can he deliver another quality performance?
9.15.16: Bad first inning helps to sink Orioles vs. Rays
A bad first inning was a major factor in Baltimore's loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday night. Michael Jenkins recaps it here.
Yovani Gallardo
Orioles score 4 in first, but lose to Rays
Yovani Gallardo allowed six runs as the Orioles lost to the Tampa Bay Rays 7-6. 
Orioles could change up rotation for Sunday
Despite his rough beginning with the Orioles, Wade Miley is likely to get another start on Sunday in the final series game against the Rays.
Orioles add bullpen, infield help
The Orioles added a relief pitcher and an infielder to their roster, which now stands at 34. 
Steve Pearce
Pearce hopes to return for O's this season
Steve Pearce hopes to his right forearm will allow him to play again in 2016. 
Baltimore Orioles pitcher Yovani Gallardo
O's 11-game homestand could determine A.L. East
The Orioles open a huge 11-game homestand with the Tampa Bay Rays. They trail the Boston Red Sox by a game. Can they catch Boston? 
Thanks to Gausman, Orioles just a game out of first
Kevin Gausman ended the Orioles road trip spectacularly, shutting out the Red Sox in eight innings. 
Ryan Flaherty of the Baltimore Orioles
Flaherty gets start in Fenway
Ryan Flaherty gets his first start since Aug. 11. 
Pearce gets injection
Steve Pearce received an injection, but the Orioles hope that he will still be able to play sometime in 2016. 
Orioles hat
Orioles 2017 schedule highlights, including series with Nats
The Orioles host the Toronto Blue Jays on Apr. 3 to begin the 2017 schedule. 
Baltimore Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman
Can Gausman beat 20-game winner Porcello?
Can Kevin Gausman beat Boston's 20-game winner Rick Porcello to make this road trip even better? 
Orioles trail Boston by 2
The Orioles scored five early runs and hung onto a 6-3 win over the Boston Red Sox, cutting Boston's lead to two in the AL East. 
9.13.16: Orioles get important win over Red Sox in Boston
Baltimore got a big-time win over Boston to help themselves gain ground in the AL East.
Baltimore Orioles pitcher Darren O'Day
Orioles hope O'Day returns shortly
Darren O'Day has been on the shelf for a while, but the Baltimore Orioles are getting close to welcoming one of their top relievers back. 
Pearce will see specialist for forearm
Outfielder Steve Pearce is out of the Orioles lineup in order to seek medical advice on a recent injury. 
Ubaldo Jimenez becomes a U.S. citizen
Orioles pitcher becomes U.S. citizen
Baltimore Orioles pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez became a U.S. citizen on Monday to thank the U.S. for what it's done for him. 
Baltimore Orioles pitcher Dylan Bundy
Can Bundy get O's back on track?
Dylan Bundy starts for the Orioles as they try to even the series with the Boston Red Sox. 
9.12.16: Orioles can't compete with 12 Boston runs in loss
Boston was just too much offensively on Monday night in a Baltimore loss.
Wade Miley
Orioles suffer embarrassing defeat
Wade Miley allowed six early runs and the Orioles lost to the Boston Red Sox 12-2, falling three games behind Boston in the AL East race. 
Baltimore Orioles pitcher Chris Tillman
Good first start for Tillman
Chris Tillman came through his first start well, Buck Showalter said. 
Adam Jones won't back down on race discussion
Adam Jones spent several minutes before Monday's game discussing the comments he recently made about the discussion of race and...
Adam Jones and Buck Showalter of the Baltimore Orioles
Showalter says Jones is listened to
Buck Showalter says that he has no problem with Adam Jones speaking out on social issues. 
Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles
Jones will use his forum to speak out
Adam Jones stands behind his published comments on race and baseball. He says he will use his forum to speak out on issues that matter to him.
Orioles play three big games with first-place Red Sox
The Orioles play three games in Boston with the first place Red Sox. Can Wade Miley get them off to a strong start?
Tillman returns to secure series victory over Tigers
Chris Tillman pitched six strong innings in his return from the disabled list, and helped the Orioles beat the Detroit Tigers 3-1. 
Baltimore Orioles outfielder Michael Bourn
Bourn displaying unusual power with Orioles
For the second time this week, Michael Bourn hit a home run for the Orioles. Bourn has never been a power hitter in his career.
Orioles are glad they didn't trade Jimenez now
Ubaldo Jimeenz's recent play offers the Orioles vindication for not trading him at the deadline.
Orioles pitcher Chris Tillman
Tillman returns from disabled list to face Tigers
The Orioles will turn to Chris Tillman to maintain their lead in the wild card race over the Detroit Tigers.
The mascot of the Baltimore Orioles
Fifteen years later, an Oriole remembers his 9/11 loss
Frederick Keys manager Keith Bodie lost someone close to him 15 years ago--and it still aches.
Baltimore Orioles pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez
Jimenez strong again in 11-3 win
Ubaldo Jimenez won his second straight game and the Orioles hit four home runs in an 11-3 win. 
Pedro Alvarez of the Baltimore Orioles
Alvarez finding success despite less playing time
Pedro Alvarez has played less this season than he has in the past for the Orioles. The result seems to be more production.