NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. - The Orioles today took not one, but two players in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft. Both are outfielders and both will need to stick on the major league roster all year to stay in the organization beyond the 2017 season. The Orioles will take a good look at both in spring training.
They selected 24-year-old Aneury Tavarez from the Boston Red Sox. The lefty hitter from the Dominican hit .330/.394/.495 between Double-A Portland (106 games) and Triple-A Pawtucket (five games) with 19 doubles, 13 triples, seven homers, 47 RBIs and an OPS of .869. He stole 20 bases in 31 attempts.
Tavarez, who turns 25 on April 25, was originally signed by Boston as an amateur on Oct. 18, 2010. He is a career .270/.320/.420 hitter in six minor league seasons.
Here is Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette on Tavarez: “He is a good hitter who had an excellent year at Portland. He ended up making the Eastern League All-Star team and he was the MVP for the Portland club. And a pretty fair Portland club - they had some good players on that club. (Yoan) Moncada was on that team and (Andrew) Benintendi, who we saw.
“This kid is a good offensive player, excellent speed. And he’s playing in the Dominican. We’ll need to find a position for him. But he can hit, he can run and he does have some power. If you look at the 13 triples that he had, that’s reflective of his power as well as his very capable speed. So we’re glad to add him to our club. We were looking to add some speed to our ballclub from a year ago. Although he is not a base stealer, Tavarez has excellent speed and good offensive capability.
“He started out as an infielder. He’s played some at second base and most recently he’s been playing in the outfield and then he’s been a DH down in the Dominican. So he’s moved around. A similar profile player that probably dates me is Luis Polonia. He has similar skills to that type of player.”
The Orioles also selected 22-year-old Anthony Santander, a switch-hitter with power, from the Cleveland Indians. The young man from Margarita, Venezuela, is going to have to make the jump from the Single-A Carolina League to the major leagues. He was originally signed by the Indians on July 2, 2011.
Last season for Single-A Lynchburg, he hit .290./368/.494 with 42 doubles, 20 homers, 90 runs, 95 RBIs and an OPS of .862. He’s a career .271/.343/.449 hitter in five minor league seasons.
Duquette on Santander: “He’s a disciple of Victor Martinez. If you see him play, he has a lot of Martinez’s mannerisms. He has a similar stance. Excellent young hitter. He was the best young player in the Carolina League.
“He had 95 RBIs, hit over 20 home runs and is just 22 years old. He was the youngest player we were considering for the draft. But we like his capability to hit in the big leagues, from both sides of the plate with power.
“He recently had a surgery on his (right) shoulder. But at 22 years old, we think there is enough ability there, particularly with the bat, to take a chance on him and get him into our organization. That was a good club that the Indians had in the Carolina League and this kid was the best offensive player in the league. Had a lot of extra base hits.
“Today we picked up a couple of young hitters, one with very good speed and one with power to both sides of the plate to add to the organization. And they are both young. Both have good on-base capabilities. They’re 22 and 24, so we’ll see if they can address our need for outfielders in the organization.
Duquette was asked about Santana’s surgery.
“It was his right shoulder,” he said. “We didn’t have access to all the medicals on him. But we had access and we’re comfortable in that we think he’s worth shot, based on his talent as a hitter, to add him to our roster.”
Will he be ready for spring training?
“We’re going to find out a little bit more about that. But I believe he’s got good ability and power from both sides of the plate. He has youth and he is a very good offensive player.”
With the Orioles looking to upgrade their outfield, how do these players rate with the glove?
“Tavarez has very good speed to cover the ground. And he should be able to cover ground and do a good job in the outfield. Santander, his best tool is his bat. But based on the looks we had at him, he covers the ground in the outfield and it looks like he has a good bat to play left field,” Duquette said, adding that the Orioles are still looking for outfielders.
The Orioles did not lose any players in the Rule 5 draft.
“Our staff works very hard on evaluating the talent so we can keep the talent we sign at the amateur level and continue to develop it,” Duquette said. “So it’s good we made the right decisions to protect players and also to leave players off the roster. We still have all the players in our organization that we started with and we added a couple.”
Now the Orioles face the challenge of trying to keep two Rule 5 picks.
“I think the important thing today is to say the Orioles added good young talent to their organization,” Duquette said. “And we’ll go spring training, we’ll take a look at them and we’ll see where they fit in the organization. But we added good speed and two good young hitters to the organization.”
The Orioles also added two players in the minor league phase of the draft The club selected right-hander Jefri Hernandez from the Reds and left-hander Brian Moran from the Braves. Moran is the nephew of former Orioles outfielder and current minor league instructor B.J. Surhoff.
The 25-year-old Hernandez recorded a 3.06 ERA in 24 relief appearances at Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock. He walked 20 and struck out 32 over 32 1/3 innings.
Moran made six appearances at Triple-A Gwinnett, posting a 5.06 ERA in 5 1/3 innings, and had a 3.21 ERA in 38 relief appearances at independent Bridgeport. The Mariners selected him in the seventh round of the 2009 draft out of the University of North Carolina, which is also his uncle B.J.’s alma mater.
The Orioles must have gotten a good scouting report on a player with an O’s family connection.
“Well, Brian Moran is a left-handed pitcher we’ve had interest in for a couple of years,” Duquette said. “We tried to acquire him when he was with Seattle. If you’ve been around B.J., you know that B.J. is very proud of his nephews that play in pro ball.
“But that’s not why we drafted him. He has good ability. He’s down in Puerto Rico pitching effectively. He’s a very good competitor and has an excellent changeup. We’re going to take a look at him.”