Rule 5 draft next up at Winter Meetings

SAN DIEGO – The Winter Meetings have reached their fourth day of activity if you include Sunday. Some do, some don’t. Depends on your flight schedule.

Let’s say third full day and get on with our lives.

The work rhythm seems a bit off, which I blame on a more condensed version with the Rule 5 draft happening this afternoon instead of Thursday morning. The embedding yesterday of the first draft lottery also provided a new wrinkle for the older beat and national crews.

The Orioles possess the 17th pick in the Rule 5, which lessens the chances that they’ll use it. Having the first or second makes it a no-brainer.

I’ve been relying on their track record of activity, with a selection made every year since 2006 - the exception, of course, being 2021 because the Winter Meetings were canceled – but executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias talked yesterday about the uncertainty that comes with a later selection and indicated that his club could pass.

“In the past we’ve had real high pick, so you could kind of be assured of getting one of the guys,” he said. “I doubt that we’ll have 17 names stacked up, so maybe we don’t take anyone. We just haven’t made any decisions yet in terms of how long our board is going to be and the exact order.”

The Orioles chose two players in the Triple-A phase last year and traded for a third: right-hander Tommy Wilson, who didn’t throw a single pitch due to injury.

Pitchers Nolan Hoffman and Cole Uvila were the two selections from the Mariners and Rangers systems, respectively. Hoffman posted a 4.24 ERA and 1.371 WHIP in 18 relief appearances with Double-A Bowie, and he allowed five runs with two walks and 17 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings in the Arizona Fall League. Uvila made 42 relief appearances with Triple-A Norfolk and had a 3.48 ERA and 1.455 WHIP with 27 walks and 45 strikeouts in 44 innings.

They were left unprotected in today’s major league portion of the Rule 5 draft.

Baseball America’s 5.0 preview again listed Triple-A infielder Greg Cullen and right-hander Kyle Brnovich as possible selections from the Orioles’ organization.

Cullen was acquired with infielder A.J. Graffanino from the Braves as players to be named later for left-hander Tommy Milone on Aug. 30, 2020.

Brnovich, part of the four-pitcher return from the Angels for Dylan Bundy on Dec. 4, 2019, is an intriguing case because he underwent Tommy John surgery this summer. He had a combined 3.32 ERA and 1.032 WHIP in 23 games between Bowie and High-A Aberdeen in 2021, and he averaged 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings.

A team could stash Brnovich on the 60-day injured list and send him on a rehab assignment that might last a month.

Executives usually bolt for the airport following the Rule 5, with the media in hot pursuit after filing stories, but there will be more meetings scheduled later in the day. All part of the new rhythm.

Seems appropriate with the Orioles viewed through a new lens by other teams after contending into the final week of the season.

These aren’t your same rebuild Orioles.

“I think the main thing that I get from agents is, people see the player development that’s happening in our organization and I think they want their players to come here,” Elias said. “They know we have good coaches and we know what we’re doing, and it’s a fun team and a good environment and we try to treat players as well as we can because we want this to be a place that agents want to send their clients.

“We feel like we’ve established that here, in particular in 2022, and I think there’s a lot of interest in us.”

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