Left-handed pitching prospect Nestor Cortes pitches for Class-A Charleston during the 2016 season.

As the Winter Meetings finished up the Orioles left having added 3 players to their roster. Just not the way fans were hoping. It was not through free agency or trades but rather through the Rule 5 Draft. Which, as anyone who knows Dan Duquette, should come as no surprise. Overall the Winter Meetings did not bring much for the Orioles besides rumor whirlwinds and the possibility of groundwork being laid for trades and further talks with free agents in the upcoming weeks. Let’s take a deeper look at the players the Orioles did obtain via the Rule 5 Draft.

Rule 5 Draft Rules

For those who do not know what the Rule 5 Draft is here are the rules as spelled out by Major League Baseball: Any club with an open spot on its 40-man roster is eligible to make a selection. Teams pick in reverse order of record. Last year, 18 players were picked in the Major League phase. There is also a Triple-A phase. Players on an organization’s 40-man roster are protected from the Rule 5 Draft. To be eligible for selection, a player must either have spent four seasons in professional baseball after signing at age 19 or older, or spent five seasons in pro ball after signing at 18 or younger (as of June 5 of that year).

(Photo: MLB.com)

In other words, this year’s Rule 5 Draft mostly will affect unprotected players who were international signings or Draft picks out of high school in 2013, as well as college players who were drafted in 2014.A team that makes a selection pays a player’s previous team $100,000 and places the player on its 40-man roster, then must keep the player on the 25-man roster or disabled list for the whole season. (He must be active for at least 90 days, so teams can’t hide him on the DL the whole time.) If the acquiring team removes the player from the big league roster, it must offer him back to the former team for $50,000. (The costs increased from $50,000 and $25,000 to $100,000 and $50,000, respectively, in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.) For more information about the Rule 5 Draft and how it works visit MLB.com

Round 1: Nestor Cortes

With their first selection in the Rule 5 Draft the Orioles selected LHP Nestor Cortes (pictured above) from the New York Yankees. In 5 minor league seasons with the Yankees he won 25 games with 14 losses with a 2.08 era. He started in 40 of the 84 games he appeared in and has 4 saves. He struck out 344 and walked only 76 in 324.1 innings pitched. Cortes has appeared in every minor league level and provided the same success. Orioles GM Dan Duquette said he expects Nestor Cortes to compete for a starting pitching job this upcoming season with the Orioles. He projects to be a back end of the rotation starter which the Orioles have a need for.

Round 2: Pedro Araujo

The second selection made by the Orioles was RHP Pedro Araujo from the Chicago Cubs. In 7 minor league seasons Araujo has won 26 games with 9 losses with a 2.63 era. He started in 22 of the 145 games he appeared in and has 16 saves in his minor league career. Araujo has struck out 394 while walking 105 in 341.2 innings pitched. He has yet to pitch above AA and has spent a majority of his career pitching in A ball so far. He will be competing for a spot in the bullpen.

Round 3: Jose Mesa

With their third selection in the Rule 5 Draft the Orioles selected RHP Jose Mesa from the New York Yankees. Jose Mesa currently has 12 wins and 4 losses in his 4 seasons pitching to a 2.86 era. Mesa has 226 strikeouts and 85 walks over 176 innings pitched. He has started 9 games out of the 78 he has appeared in. Mesa will also be competing for a spot in the Orioles bullpen. Jose Mesa’s father, also Jose Mesa, pitched for the Orioles in 1987 and 1990-92.

One important thing to not here is the Orioles currently have a Rule 5 Draft player on their roster in Anthony Santander who needs to be on the roster for 44 more games. This means the Orioles have 4 Rule 5 Draft picks on their current roster. By opening day I do not expect that to be the case. Santander will be battling for a platoon outfield spot and will likely make the roster. Out of the 3 recent picks Nestor Cortes has the best shot of sticking with the club. He faced the highest level of competition out of the three, he is 1 year younger, and he is left handed something the Orioles value. I expect those 2 to remain on the roster and contribute for the Orioles throughout the year. A strong showing by Araujo or Mesa in spring training could help their case to make the team but do not be surprised if they are eventually sent back to their former clubs.

(Photo: MILB.com)

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