Jim Callis talks about the Orioles’ picks in the Rule 5 draft

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - In taking Michael Almanzar today in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft, the Orioles got a player that was once a top international signing by the Boston Red Sox.

Jim Callis of MLB.com and MLBPipeline.com, during a video interview after the draft, pointed out that Almanzar was signed to a $1.5 million dollar deal by Boston in July 2007.

“He’s got big raw power with plus arm strength,” Callis said. “Kind of slow to develop, but he’s had back-to-back two solid years. The two strikes against him are swings and misses a lot, so he’s not as polished as a hitter and not real athletic. So third base, even though that has been his primary position, is probably a stretch at the major league level, he’s probably more of a first baseman.

“He’s interesting. You don’t see many position players taken in the Rule 5. I think there were just two of the nine today. He’s had some success in Double-A, he’s got two big tools, so why not take a chance for $50,000?

“He was a highly touted international signing. The Red Sox have a deep system and they had a full 40-man roster. I think the Red Sox have one of the top five farm systems in baseball, so they probably had as big a 40-man roster crunch as anybody.”

Callis felt the O’s made a solid pick in getting outfielder Julio Borbon in the Triple-A phase of the draft.

The 27-year-old outfielder was a high draft pick, taken 35th overall by Texas out of the University of Tennessee in 2007. He got an $800,000 signing bonus. Callis sees Borbon as a former top prospect that is being given another shot by a new organization.

“That is exactly what he is. He had a (six-figure) bonus out of the draft,” Callis said. “He was a supplemental first-round pick of the Rangers that has bounced around a bit. When he was drafted, he was a guy that can play center field and can run. The idea was he might be a guy that can hit for a high average, get on base, steal few bases and play a solid center field. He just hasn’t been consistent with the bat.

“They don’t have to keep him on the roster, so he’s an Oriole now flat out. Maybe the ship has sailed for him on being a big league regular on a contending club, but as guy that can run and is versatile, he could be a good fourth outfielder if he gets the bat going a little bit more. I like that pick.”

Video coming.

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