A look at a few possible Rule 5 targets for the Orioles

While beginning the year with multiple Rule 5 draft picks on a major league roster is something that just may not work out, the rebuilding 2019 Orioles might have to consider starting the year with at least one Rule 5 pick.

The Orioles have the No. 1 pick in the Dec. 13 Rule 5 draft that brings an end to the upcoming Winter Meetings. And when you have your pick of every eligible player not on another team’s 40-man roster, there is really no reason not to make that pick. The Orioles can always send the player back to his previous team. No harm in taking a look.

With that in mind, here are three players that are eligible to be taken in this year’s Rule 5 draft:

Richie-Martin-A's-Portrait-Sidebar.jpgShortstop Richie Martin, Oakland: So why did the A’s leave Martin off their 40-man? Is it because of his limited offensive potential or maybe because he has had offseason knee surgery in two of the last three years?

The 23-year-old Martin hit .300/.368/.439 last season at Double-A with 68 runs and 25 steals, but he’s not going to provide much pop with 15 career homers. He’s currently ranked as Oakland’s No. 12 prospect by MLBPipeline.com. He was ranked by Baseball America as the A’s No. 5 at the end of 2015, No. 9 at the end of 2016 and No. 23 after 2017.

He’s considered a good defender with a strong arm, MLBPipeline.com rates his arm tool at 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale and he’s a 60 defender.

Drafted in round one (No. 20 overall) out of the University of Florida in 2015, Martin signed with the A’s for $1.95 million. But now they risk losing a former top pick. While Martin hit well at Double-A in 2018, his career numbers are .257/.340/.366. That’s a solid OBP, but maybe his plus defense doesn’t overcome any shortcomings on offense. Either way, the Orioles can have him in they want him in the Rule 5.

Second baseman Keon Wong, Tampa Bay: The 23-year-old Wong has played at Triple-A Durham the last two years. He’s considered a solid defender with average range, but has only made Tampa Bay’s top 30 prospects list once on Baseball America when he was No. 22 in 2014. Wong has twice been a postseason All-Star - in 2014 in the Midwest League and last season in the International League.

The lefty hitter batted .282/.345/.406 last season with an OPS of .750. Those are near his career numbers of .283/.335/.368 with a .703 OPS. He has hit just 22 career homers.

Wong was selected by Tampa Bay in round four in 2013 out of a Hilo, Hawaii, high school and signed for $391,000. Wong, who has also played some in left field, was Rule 5-eligible last year but not taken by any club.

He is the younger brother of Kolten Wong of the St. Louis Cardinals. The older brother ripped the Rays in September for not bringing Keon to the majors. “He’s just in a bad organization which doesn’t give chances to guys who deserve chances. ...The guy’s done everything,” Kolten Wong said.

Right-hander Riley Ferrell, Houston: He was involved with drafting him once, so would Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias look to acquire Ferrell again? He has a profile that we’ve seen before - a solid bullpen arm with a lot of potential, but a track record that shows too many walks. Can he harness the control and impact a big league bullpen?

The 25-year-old Ferrell had surgery to remove an aneurysm from his throwing shoulder in May 2016. He missed the remainder of that season but his fastball that can touch the high 90s returned last summer.

Houston drafted him in the third round (No. 79 overall) in 2015 out of Texas Christian and he was signed to an overslot bonus of $1 million. He was ranked as Houston’s No. 20 prospect by Baseball America at the end of 2015 and No. 27 at the end of 2017. He is currently No. 17 by MLBPipeline.com, which grades his fastball as plus at 65 with a 60 slider but slightly below average control at 45. In his career, he’s averaged 4.3 walks per nine innings and 10.8 strikeouts.

Ferrell went 2-2 with a 1.90 ERA this season at Double-A, but in his first shot in Triple-A, he was 2-1 with a 6.75 ERA. His fastball ranges from 93 to 98 mph and his slider sits in the mid-80s.

You can check out this list of players that can be taken in the Rule 5 draft, as MLB.com looks at one player that is eligible to be selected from each MLB team. They list lefty reliever Luis Gonzalez from the Orioles.

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