O’s minor league homer leader expects to play elsewhere next year (plus Rule 5 eligible players)

He led all Orioles minor leaguers in homers in four of the last five seasons, including the last three in a row. But infielder Brandon Waring realizes that probably won’t happen again in 2014.

After hitting 119 homers over the last five seasons on the O’s farm, the 27-year-old Waring officially became a minor league free agent Monday afternoon and expects to sign with another organization for next season.

“Honestly, I think I need a change of scenery,” Waring said yesterday. “I’ve spent five seasons in the Orioles system and the opportunity never really presented itself to move forward. I was kind of stuck in Double-A. Our first choice is to look elsewhere and get a fresh start.

“I’ve met with my agent and we have a couple of teams in mind. He’s done his research on what teams have in their farm systems and the big leagues at the corner infield spots.”

When Andy MacPhail traded catcher Ramon Hernandez to the Cincinnati Reds at the Winter Meetings in December 2008, Waring came to Baltimore along with Ryan Freel and Justin Turner.

He won the Brooks Robinson Award as the O’s 2009 minor league Player of the Year and also was the Single-A Carolina League MVP after batting .273 with 26 homers and 90 RBIs for Frederick. He hit 22 homers in 2010 followed by 21, 24 and 25 the past three seasons.

“Over my career I’ve always hit a lot of homers and driven in runs consistently, so hopefully someone is out there that has seen me play and wants to give me a chance at the Triple-A level and maybe something opens up with the big leagues,” Waring said.

A seventh-round pick in 2007 out of Wofford College, Waring hit .214 with 25 homers, 69 RBIs and a .766 OPS this past season, mostly at Double-A Bowie. He also played 10 games at Triple-A Norfolk.

He said it was frustrating at times spending most of the last four years in Double-A, but he has no hard feelings toward an organization he’s been a big part of for so long.

“It definitely was (frustrating),” he said. “I felt I deserved to start at Triple-A last year, but for whatever reason, they went out and signed some people that bumped me and other guys back to Double-A.

“I’ve got nothing but love for the Orioles. They are headed in the right direction with Buck (Showalter) and Dan Duquette. At the end of the day, I’m a realist and I know they don’t worry about one individual player over doing what it takes to win. That is the business side of baseball.”

Meanwhile, if the Orioles add any players from their minor league organization to their 40-man roster in advance of this year’s Rule 5 draft, they have to do so by Nov. 20. Left-handed pitcher Chris Jones was added yesterday ahead of the deadline when he would have become a minor league free agent.

Here is a list of some current O’s minor league players that are eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 draft if not added to the 40-man roster:

Aaron Baker
Jesse Beal
Eric Beaulac
Tim Berry
Matt Bischoff
Buck Britton
Steve Bumbry
Bobby Bundy
Oliver Drake
Eddie Gamboa
Mychal Givens
Jason Gurka
Matt Hobgood
Caleb Joseph
Trent Mummey
Michael Ohlman
Jake Pettit
Marcel Prado
Clay Schrader
Ashur Tolliver
Brian Ward

Three of the O’s better pitching prospects that you may be wondering about are not eligible for the Rule 5 this year - Parker Bridwell, Eduardo Rodriguez and Mike Wright.

I have speculated that Berry and Ohlman may have the best chance to get added to the 40-man and Joseph should get strong consideration also. Perhaps Drake and Gurka would be among the next group getting consideration. The O’s 40-man roster is now at 31 players, but they also have to leave space for any of their own free agents they would re-sign or any other players added from outside the organization.

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