The Orioles have filled three of the 10 open spots on their 40-man roster.
Pitchers Hunter Harvey and David Hess and catcher Austin Wynns were added today and no longer are eligible to be taken in the Rule 5 draft that’s held on the final day of the Winter Meetings on Dec. 14 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
No other players from inside the organization can be placed on the roster before the Rule 5 draft.
Harvey, 22, was the 22nd-overall pick in the 2013 draft whose career was slowed by a myriad of injuries, the most serious leading to ligament-reconstructive surgery in his right elbow in 2016. He made eight starts this summer and allowed two runs with 30 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings.
The Orioles will decide in spring training whether Harvey is a candidate to break camp with them in a relief role or if he should be starting for one of their affiliates, the later scenario the most likely. He hasn’t pitched above the low Single-A level.
Wynns, who turns 27 next month, batted .281/.377/.419 with 19 doubles, a triple, 10 home runs and 46 RBIs in 105 games with Double-A Bowie. He’s a career .269/.336/.369 hitter in five minor league seasons who’s regarded as a plus defender and capable right now of serving in a backup role in the majors.
Losing Wynns would have delivered a serious blow to the organization’s catching depth with Francisco Peña and Audry Perez eligible to leave as minor league free agents. Wynns can compete for a job in spring training and give the Orioles a catching option at Triple-A Norfolk if he doesn’t make the team.
Hess, 24, was 11-9 with a 3.85 ERA in 27 games (26 starts) at Bowie and has registered a 4.16 ERA and 1.324 WHIP in four minor league seasons. He went 3-2 with a 2.25 ERA and 0.75 WHIP in six August starts.
The Orioles figure to insert Hess into Norfolk’s rotation next season. Whether he transitions into a relief role will be determined at a later date. They will continue their attempts to develop him as a starter.
Infielder Steve Wilkerson is the most notable omission.
Wilkerson, 25, still could complete for a utility job in spring training if he stays in the organization. He’s played all four infield positions in the minors, though shortstop rates as his weakest. He grades as a plus runner, which also appeals to the Orioles.
Wilkerson’s stock rose this year as he crafted a .305/.375/.423 slash line in a combined 112 games at Single-A Frederick and Bowie and batted .317/.396/.512 with three doubles, five triples, one home run and 10 RBIs in 23 games with the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League. But he couldn’t crack the 40-man.
Left-hander Luis Gonzalez, 25, also was left unprotected after going 6-2 with a 2.47 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in 36 relief appearances with Frederick. He held opponents to a .173 average. He’s spent the last three summers in the Carolina League.
Gonzalez rationed the Arizona Fall League competition to one unearned run in 9 2/3 innings.
* Major League Baseball has released the full spring training schedules for every team. Time to start booking those flights and hotels.
Orioles pitchers and catchers are required to report to the Ed Smith Stadium complex in Sarasota on Feb. 13. The full squad report date is Feb. 18.
The 2018 season will mark the Orioles’ ninth consecutive spring training in Sarasota and the eighth at renovated Ed Smith Stadium since they left Fort Lauderdale.
Here’s the list of Orioles’ Grapefruit League games, beginning with the Feb. 23 opener against the Rays’ split squad in Sarasota and ending with a March 25 game versus the Phillies in Clearwater. Also included are back-to-back games against the Cardinals in Jupiter and the Mets in Port St. Lucie:
Feb. 23: Orioles vs Rays (ss) in Sarasota
Feb. 24: Orioles (ss) at Phillies in Clearwater/Orioles (ss) vs. Twins in Sarasota
Feb. 25: Orioles at Red Sox in Fort Myers
Feb. 26: Orioles vs. Tigers in Sarasota
Feb. 27: Orioles at Rays in Port Charlotte
Feb. 28: Orioles vs. Cardinals in Sarasota
March 1: Orioles at Rays in Port Charlotte
March 2: Orioles vs. Pirates in Sarasota
March 3: Orioles at Phillies in Clearwater
March 4: Orioles vs. Red Sox in Sarasota
March 5: Off-day
March 6: Orioles at Twins in Fort Myers
March 7: Orioles at Rays in Port Charlotte
March 8: Orioles vs. Blue Jays in Sarasota
March 9: Orioles at Blue Jays in Dunedin
March 10: Orioles vs. Pirates (ss) in Sarasota
March 11: Orioles (ss) at Red Sox in Fort Myers/Orioles (ss) vs. Phillies in Sarasota
March 12: Orioles at Pirates in Bradenton
March 13: Orioles at Twins in Fort Myers
March 14: Orioles vs. Yankees in Sarasota
March 15: Orioles at Cardinals in Jupiter
March 16: Orioles at Mets in Port St. Lucie
March 17: Orioles vs. Blue Jays in Sarasota
March 18: Orioles vs. Mets in Sarasota
March 19: Orioles at Tigers in Lakeland
March: 20: Orioles vs. Rays in Sarasota
March 21: Orioles at Yankees in Tampa
March 22: Orioles vs. Red Sox in Sarasota
March 23: Orioles vs. Rays (ss) in Sarasota
March 24: Orioles vs. Twins in Sarasota
March 25: Orioles at Phillies in Clearwater
There are 6:05 p.m. games at Ed Smith Stadium on Feb. 24, March 11, March 20 and March 24, and a 6:35 p.m. game in Tampa on March 21. The rest are day games.
* Eight former Orioles appear on the latest Hall of Fame ballot, which was revealed today by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Designated hitter Jim Thome, first baseman Aubrey Huff, outfielder Johnny Damon and pitchers Kevin Millwood and Jamie Moyer appear on the ballot for the first time.
Other players with ties to the Orioles include pitchers Curt Schilling (sixth year) and Mike Mussina (fifth) and outfielder Sammy Sosa (sixth).
Other newcomers include outfielders Andruw Jones, Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, third basemen Chipper Jones and Scott Rolen, shortstop Omar Vizquel, second baseman Orlando Hudson, first baseman Carlos Lee and pitchers Johan Santana, Chris Carpenter, Livan Hernandez, Kerry Wood, Carlos Zambrano Brad Lidge and Jason Isringhausen. Santana would have joined the list of former Orioles if not for a torn left Achilles tendon suffered in June 2014 while making his final extended spring training start.
Ballots will be mailed this week to more than 430 eligible voters and results will be announced on Jan. 24 at 6 p.m. on MLB Network. No more than 10 players may appear on a ballot.
Candidates must be named on 75 percent of the ballots. Players remain eligible for up to 10 years provided they receive at least five percent of the vote.
Reliever Trevor Hoffman came within five votes of induction last year. Vladimir Guerrero came within 15 votes.
Mussina received 51.8 percent of the votes. I’ll continue to include him on my ballot.
Here’s the entire list of candidates:
Barry Bonds, Chris Carpenter, Roger Clemens, Johnny Damon, Vladimir Guerrero, Livan Hernandez, Trevor Hoffman, Orlando Hudson, Aubrey Huff, Jason Isringhausen, Andruw Jones, Chipper Jones, Jeff Kent, Carlos Lee, Brad Lidge, Edgar Martinez, Hideki Matsui, Fred McGriff, Kevin Millwood, Jamie Moyer, Mike Mussina, Manny Ramirez, Scott Rolen, Johan Santana, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Sammy Sosa, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel, Billy Wagner, Larry Walker, Kerry Wood, Carlos Zambrano.