LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The Orioles selected two players today in the Rule 5 draft, adding corner infielder Michael Almanzar from Boston with the 16th pick in the major league phase and taking outfielder Julio Borbon from the Cubs in the Triple-A phase.
Almanzar must stay on the Orioles' 25-man roster all year or be offered back to the Red Sox for half the $50,000 draft price, while Borbon enters the O's minor leagues but may also get a look this spring in major league camp.
The 23-year-old Almanzar, from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, played at Double-A Portland of the Eastern League in 2013. Over 131 games, he batted .268 with 29 doubles, three triples, 16 homers and 81 RBIs. The right-handed batter had a .432 slugging percentage and .760 OPS. Against left-handed pitching, he batted .281 with a .477 slugging percentage and .822 OPS.
"Michael's dad, Carlos, has played in the big leagues," Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said. "Michael has had two good years and he showed good progress at Double-A this year with the capability to hit, drive in a run, play a couple of positions and steal a base. So that tells you he has all the tools and capability to be a big league ballplayer.
"You can see, year over year, his progress with the bat where he has matured and is a little more selective. We're glad to have him and take a look at him."
Almanzar is a career .250/.302/.373 hitter in six minor league seasons.
"He plays multiple positions and just turned 23," Duquette said. "He has a good bat - 16 home runs in the Eastern League shows significant power, particularly at his age. He signed young and got a healthy bonus. He's made good progress with all areas of his game the last two years.
"It is a challenge for him to go to the big leagues and perform, but he performed all year in Double-A with the bat and we'll see how me matures between now and spring training."
The 27-year-old Borbon was a supplemental first-round draft pick, taken 35th overall by Texas in 2007 out of the University of Tennessee.
Borbon has big league experience. He batted .200 with one homer and three RBIs in 105 at-bats with the Chicago Cubs last season. He hit .260 in 24 games at Triple-A.
Borbon is a career .272/.318/.347 hitter in parts of four major league seasons and played for the Rangers in the 2010 World Series.
"Borbon, believe it or not, is a left-handed hitting outfielder that fills a need we were looking for to complement our big league team," Duquette said. "He's had some good major league experience with good contributions in the majors, getting on base, playing defense and also with his legs.
"We like both these players. They grew up around baseball, they have tools. One is left-handed hitter, one a right-handed hitter but we think both of them may be able to help our ballclub in '14."
Duquette was asked about the O's possibly taking a look at Borbon for the big league roster come March.
"He is still pretty young and can play all outfield positions, including center," Duquette said. "We had interest in him in the past and we considered claiming him for our major league club this year. We discussed that internally and we almost did that. We have some history with him in Texas. We know the player and we'll take a look at him. I'm kind of excited we added two players today that have skills to help our major league team."