By 11:59 p.m. Eastern time tonight, the Orioles will have to set their 40-man roster for the Rule 5 draft which will be held Dec. 6 during the upcoming Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn.
Essentially the rules state that a player in your organization that is not on your 40-man roster can be taken by another team in the Rule 5 draft if the player was drafted and signed at age 18 or younger and has five years with your club, or the player was drafted and signed at 19 and older and has four years with your club. There are also some variations on this and it all can be confusing, for sure.
The Orioles got Ryan Flaherty in the Rule 5 draft last December and he remained on the club's 25-man roster all year.
Here is a list of players that would need to be added by the Orioles by that time tonight or would then be subject to be selected by another club in the Rule 5 draft. This is by no means a list of every player eligible and I may have missed a few but a it's a list of some prominent minor leaguers that qualify.
Of this list, the only player that seems almost certain to get added to the Orioles 40-man roster is Schoop. He is highly regarded by the club and was rated by Baseball America last month as the Orioles' No. 3 prospect and top position player prospect behind only Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman.
Schoop hit .245 this year for Double-A Bowie with 14 homers, 56 RBIs and a .710 OPS - modest stats, but certainly respectable for a player who played the entire 2012 season at 20. He was rated by Baseball America as the No. 14 prospect this year in the Eastern League. The publication said this about Schoop:
"Scouts who like Schoop think he profiles as an offensive-oriented second baseman with power. Those who don't view him as an infield tweener who won't hit enough to play third base or field well enough to play up the middle."
The Orioles sure like Schoop and it would be a huge surprise if he is not on the 40-man roster by later today.
Will anyone else be added? Ty Kelly has a lot of fans out there after his big year where he batted .327 with 11 homers, 70 RBIs, a .425 OPS and .892 OPS. Strong numbers, indeed, for a season where he played 76 games at Single-A Frederick, 46 at Bowie and 11 at Triple-A Norfolk.
Maybe because he is older, at 24, and has some possible shortcomings on defense, most don't rate Kelly among the club's top 10 prospects and it appears he will be not be protected today.
Lefty reliever Mike Belfiore just finished a stint in the Arizona Fall League and could be considered for the 40-man roster. He went 5-1 with a 2.85 ERA over 47 1/3 innings for Bowie and held lefty batters to a .160 average.
Plenty of the players on the above list posted good numbers this year and are players the club clearly likes. If they don't get added today it doesn't mean the Orioles don't like them or don't feel they could have a future with the big club; they just don't feel the need to add them today. The Orioles also have to weigh the risk of leaving a player off the 40-man and available to be taken by another organization Dec. 6.
Clarification on Schoop: A few have reached out to me today questioning why Schoop needs to be protected today. He has played just four years in the organization. Even though that is true and he was signed at 17 in 2008, by rule, if he is 18 or under on the June 5 immediately preceding his signing (which took place on Aug. 20, 2008), then he is eligible at the fifth Rule 5 draft that follows his signing. This year will be the fifth. As I said, there are some variations on the rule.
Update: The Orioles today selected the contracts of Schoop and Belfiore from Bowie and outrighted pitcher Oliver Drake to Norfolk, giving them a full 40-man roster.
The Orioles today also announced a trade, acquiring outfielder Trayvon Robinson from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for infielder Robert Andino. Robinson, 25, batted .215/.272/.330 (62-288) in 90 major league games over the past two seasons with Seattle.