Egan, Esquivel and Nowak are among eight released from O's minor leagues

Pitchers Pat Egan and Jaime Esquivel, and outfielder Jeremy Nowak were among eight players released from the Orioles' minor leagues this morning. Among the released players were four O's draft picks, three signed out of independent ball this winter and one minor league free agent.

The Orioles also released outfielders Chris Pettit, Will Howard and Buddy Sosnoskie, pitcher Chase Johnson and shortstop Chris Wade.

Maybe the biggest name in this group was Egan, a 28-year-old right-hander who was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2010 Rule 5 draft, but was returned to the O's in spring training of 2011.

I had a chance to interview Egan that day when he was taken in the Rule 5 draft by the Brewers.

Egan was the Orioles' 36th-round pick in 2006 and went 22-20 with a 3.13 ERA in the minors, pitching in 191 games, including 31 starts, at every stop between rookie-level Bluefield and Triple-A Norfolk. Last year, between Double-A Bowie and Norfolk, Egan went 4-1 with a 1.61 ERA over 67 innings.

A right-hander, Esquivel was the Orioles' 28th-round pick in 2010 out of South Houston (Tex.) High School and got an over-slot bonus of $225,000 to sign. He went 7-5 with an ERA of 2.95 in two minor league seasons.

Pettit was signed this January after batting .282 over 88 games last season between Double-A and Triple-A in the Colorado organization. He was drafted by the Angels in the 19th round of the 2006 draft.

Wade, 25, was signed in December after batting .301 in 2012 for the Windy City Thunderbolts of the Frontier League.

Nowak was the O's 13th-round draft pick in 2010 and has a career average of .251 in three seasons. In 2012 for Single-A Frederick, he batted .281 with seven homers and 44 RBIs. He led the Keys in hits, runs, doubles and total bases. He also played in the California League-Carolina League All-Star game.

Howard was drafted by the Orioles just last year in the 22nd round out of Kennesaw State University and hit .217 in 65 games at short-season Single-A Aberdeen.

Sosnoskie was signed as a free agent in November. He batted .339 last year for Fargo-Moorhead of the independent American Association.

A right-hander, Johnson was signed in December after pitching last year for Amarillo of the American Association.

The Orioles have now released 22 players from the minors since March 21 and even more cuts are possible. The O's will begin to send players from their four full-season clubs north after intrasquad games this Sunday at Twin Lakes Park that bring an end to minor league spring training. The club has not yet announced any rosters for Norfolk, Bowie, Frederick or Delmarva. Three of those teams play season openers next Thursday with Frederick opening its season on Friday.

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