Checking on Orioles minor leaguers who became free agents

The current offseason for the Orioles may not seem typical with hires pending in the front office, no manager in place and promises to revamp the entire scouting operation. This isn’t business as usual across the board. However, there are certain tasks that await the club and aren’t influenced by other circumstances.

Building up minor league depth is one of the priorities. Trying to find hidden and inexpensive gems.

The Orioles also might try to keep a few of their own.

The list of Orioles minor leaguers currently on the free agent market, as supplied by Major League Baseball and posted at, includes infielder Garabez Rosa, who has a tendency to double back to the organization.

Rosa re-signed for a fourth time last November after being named the Eastern League’s Most Valuable Player, a reward for his .310/.333/.444 slash line, 24 doubles, two triples, 14 home runs and 91 RBIs in 124 games with Double-A Bowie.

Spending the entire 2018 season with Triple-A Norfolk, Rosa batted .277/.297/.391 with 22 doubles, 11 home runs and 56 RBIs in 127 games. He turned 29 last month, has played in 1,280 minor league games and still can’t get called up to The Show.

Rosa is the all-time leader in pretty much everything at Bowie, which is one of those dubious honors. I seem to recall former first-round pick Billy Rowell ranking first in games played at Single-A Fredrick, which isn’t what he envisioned while simultaneously crafting his Hall of Fame acceptance speech and signing his first professional contract.

Does Rosa go for a fifth return to the Orioles? He must be happy - an invite to major league camp last spring sealed his last agreement - and he’s one of those good “organizational guys.” He can move around the infield, but he lacks a position and that’s held him back.

Hoes-Swings-Spring-Orioles.jpgL.J. Hoes also is on the list after the Orioles re-signed him in July and allowed him to begin serving his 50-game suspension from February 2017 - the only way that he’d be able to resume his career.

Hoes was suspended for a second positive test for a drug of abuse. He appeared in three games with the Orioles in 2012-13 before they packaged him with pitcher Josh Hader in the Bud Norris deal with the Astros. He turns 29 in March.

Knuckleballer Eddie Gamboa was hurt for much of the summer - I kept hearing talk about a pending surgery - and it’s probably time for the Orioles to move on from him.

Outfielder-turned-pitcher Dariel Álvarez has recovered from his Tommy John surgery. Manager Buck Showalter always was intrigued with the idea of Álvarez converting to reliever, but the elbow didn’t cooperate.

Álvarez made two relief appearances this summer in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and allowed one run and two hits in 1 1/3 innings. He’s a position player again in the Mexican Pacific Winter League.

Pitcher Michael Kelly is free to sign with another team. I’ll always remember him because former executive vice president Dan Duquette informed the media of the transaction after last year’s Rule 5 draft at the Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

We were preoccupied with learning more about the players obtained in the draft - pitchers Nestor Cortes Jr., Pedro Araujo and Jose Mesa Jr. - and Duquette dropped a Michael Kelly on us.

Kelly was a minor league free agent who received a major league deal. He made 25 of his 31 appearances at Double-A Bowie and had a 9.11 ERA and 2.148 WHIP in 56 1/3 innings. He allowed 57 earned runs and walked 66 batters.

Catchers Audry Perez, Armando Araiza and Steel Russell - the oldest son of bench coach John Russell - also are minor league free agents.

Left-handers Andrew Faulkner and Ryan O’Rourke, the latter signed last winter despite undergoing Tommy John surgery that prevented him from pitching until July, also are on the market. I feel like Showalter provided health updates on O’Rourke at least 50 times over the summer. He clearly was intrigued by the guy, but we never got a chance to see him pitch unless making trips to Sarasota, short-season Single-A Aberdeen, Frederick or Norfolk.

Other free agents coming out of the Orioles organization include pitcher Tim Melville, infielders Adrian Marin, Sharlon Schoop, Erick Salcedo and Rubén Tejada, and outfielder D’Arby Myers.

Perhaps the most interesting is first baseman Aderlin Rodriguez, who batted .286/.335/.478 with 20 doubles, two triples, 23 home runs and 92 RBIs in 128 games with Bowie. He’s spent the last two summers with the Baysox and he turns 27 later this month.

The clock is ticking.

* Peter Woodfork, Major League Baseball’s senior vice president of baseball operations, is a definite candidate to join the Orioles’ front office. I heard his name mentioned this week as having interviewed, confirming The Athletic’s report.

Woodfork formally served as Diamondbacks vice president and assistant general manager. He was the Red Sox’s director of baseball operations and assistant director of player development from 2003-05.

* Richard Bleier has started throwing, with video posted on his Instagram account as proof, following lat surgery in June.

Bleier wrote that it was a “huge step in the right direction.”

Shameless plug alert: I’m appearing on “Wall to Wall Baseball” from noon-2 p.m. on MASN.

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