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Meet the O's Rule 5 Draft picks

@JoeTrezz
December 16, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- From Mike Elias to Sig Mejdal to Brandon Hyde and beyond, the Orioles ties to the Cubs and Astros have grown continuously plain to see over the past calendar year. They got even deeper on Thursday. Baltimore on Thursday concluded the Winter Meetings by selecting a right-hander

SAN DIEGO -- From Mike Elias to Sig Mejdal to Brandon Hyde and beyond, the Orioles ties to the Cubs and Astros have grown continuously plain to see over the past calendar year. They got even deeper on Thursday.

Baltimore on Thursday concluded the Winter Meetings by selecting a right-hander from each organization during the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft: Brandon Bailey from Houston and Michael Rucker from Chicago. Both will report to Spring Training with a chance to win big league jobs in the rotation or bullpen as the club spends this offseason looking to infuse some much-needed depth to its pitching staff.

As Rule 5 selections, Bailey and Rucker must remain on the Orioles' active roster all season, or else be offered back to their respective clubs for $50,000. The selections each came with an initial cost of $100,000 for Baltimore.

"We think both players have an interesting mix of strike-throwing ability and strong pitches to help them compete in the American League East," Orioles pro scouting director Mike Snyder said. "There is pressure with every acquisition we make. With these guys in particular, this is a calculated risk. We like both of these players, and we think they have a good shot. For them it's a great opportunity to win a spot out of camp."

Bailey, 25, was a sixth-round Draft pick of the A's in 2016 who arrived in Houston via the Ramón Laureano trade a year later. A 5-foot-10, 175-pound righty, Bailey reached Double-A in 2018 and spent all of '19 at the level, pitching to a 3.30 ERA in 22 games (17 starts). He struck out 103 and walked 41 across 97 2/3 innings.

"He works primarily off a riding fastball, uses a changeup to right-handers and left-handers as well and has two breaking balls that are weapons," Snyder said. "To compete in the league in the division we are in, you need to have a blend of performance, pitch mix and an ability to throw strikes."

Rucker, 25, was drafted by the Cubs in the 11th round in 2016, and he subsequently rose through their system. The right-hander reached Triple-A in 2019, appearing in two games at that level. But he spent much of the past two seasons at Double-A, making 26 starts and 34 relief appearances there between '18-19. Rucker pitched primarily in relief last season but in a piggyback capacity, with scheduled outings. At Double-A, he pitched to a 4.28 ERA, striking out 89 across 75 2/3 innings.

"One of the intriguing things about him is he offers flexibility," Snyder said. "I think we're going in with an open mind to March and seeing what the best role for both of these players would be."

Baltimore also added outfielder Cristopher Cespedes and infielder Wilbis Santiago -- both from the Indians -- in the Triple-A phase of the Draft, where they also lost two players: righties Ruben Garcia (selected by the Tigers) and Jhon Peluffo (Indians). Cespedes, 21, hit .326 with a .930 OPS in rookie ball last season, playing primarily right field. Santiago, 23, hit .312 with just 21 strikeouts in 264 at-bats between Class A and Advanced A. He is a candidate to begin the year at Double-A Bowie.

"We were looking to add depth to the system, and these are two guys who are relatively young," director of Minor League operations Kent Qualls said. "They are interesting bats our hitting coaches can work with."

Baltimore's 40-man roster is now full.

Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.