The Rule 5 draft is set for today

DALLAS - Baseball's Rule 5 draft will be held this morning at 10 a.m Eastern time and the Orioles will have the fourth pick. Any player selected in this draft must remain on the selecting team's 25-man roster for the entire big league season or be offered back to his original club.

Players are eligible for selection in the Rule 5 draft who are not on their major league organization's 40-man roster and:

* Were signed at age 19 or older and have been in the organization for four years; or

* Were signed at age 18 or younger and have been in the organization for five years.

Unlike the June draft, where sometimes there is a consensus of what order the top players will be selected in, the Rule 5 is more wide open and harder to predict. It simply depends on the preference of the selecting team. One club may take player X if they had the first pick while another team would prefer player Y.

The Orioles appear very likely to use that fourth pick and many pitchers are taken in the Rule 5 draft. Players taken in this draft seldom make it all the way through the season however and most make it back to the original club, but last year, the Orioles lost pitcher Pedro Beato to the Mets and he stayed on New York's roster all year.

Over the years, players taken in this draft have included Johan Santana, Jose Bautista, Paul Blair, Josh Hamilton, Dan Uggla and Jay Gibbons by the Orioles in December 2000.

Baseball America's Matt Eddy posted this on Twitter yesterday:

"Just 4 teams in last 4 years have carried more than one player with Rule 5 restrictions for entire year: Astros, Padres, Phillies & Royals."

When I interviewed Baseball America's Jim Callis yesterday, he said he had not been covering this draft for this year but he did have some thoughts on what the Orioles might generally be looking for in the draft.

"It seems like clubs always go after guys that throw hard, but might not have a second pitch. A lot of times when you see a new regime, they will get a guy they like from a previous organization. Obviously with (Dan) Duquette that doesn't apply. Last year, with the Pirates, (general manager) Neal Huntington wasn't new but he took Josh Rodriguez, a guy from the Indians that Huntington liked when he was with them.

"Gary Rajsich (Orioles new amateur scouting director), because he was with Toronto (most recently), maybe he will like a player from their organization. Toronto has a deep system, but it's a ton of guys from the last two drafts that don't have to be protected (from this draft)."

Callis wasn't certain if the Orioles might lose any players to another team in the Rule 5.

"The one thing you could possibly see, (former O's scouting director) Joe Jordan is with the Phillies and maybe you could see him take an Oriole player. I could see the Phillies taking an Oriole in the Triple-A phase," Callis said.

Here are some players that the Orioles have not protected on their 40-man roster that are eligible to be selected today:

Position players: Buck Britton, Tyler Henson, John Hester, Caleb Joseph, Greg Miclat, Brandon Waring, Ronnie Welty and Robbie Widlansky.

Pitchers: Tim Bascom, Brandon Cooney, Pat Egan, Eddie Gamboa, Sean Gleason, Steve Johnson, Cole McCurry, Wynn Pelzer and Rick Zagone.

My prediction for today: The Orioles take a pitcher with the fourth pick and possibly lose a pitcher to another team. I feel McCurry could get taken after the lefty went 9-3 with a 2.57 ERA this year and a .216 batting average against over 74 innings for Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk. He had an ERA of 0.80 with Double-A Bowie.

One longshot Oriole name that could get taken is lefty pitcher Jason Gurka, a reliever who went 3-1 with a 2.87 with 67 strikeouts over 53 1/3 innings. A scout from another organization said they liked him and could take him in this draft.

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