Meet the Rule 5 pick who's impressing at camp

February 18th, 2023

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Andrew Politi moved from one American League East team to another in December, when he was plucked from the Red Sox’s Minor League system and taken by the Orioles in the Rule 5 Draft.

Due to his Rule 5 status, Politi must stay on Baltimore’s big league roster for the entirety of the 2023 season or be offered back to Boston. But the potential for the 26-year-old right-hander to return to a division rival isn’t impacting the O’s approach with him in Spring Training.

“Regardless of the team he goes back to, we’re going to try to give him every opportunity,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “He’s going to have all the resources available to try to get better. ... Because he’s a former Red Sox, we’re not going to hide the ball from him.”

Maybe Politi won’t even go back to Boston, though. He threw his first bullpen session of camp on Friday morning, and Hyde was impressed with what he saw.

“We do feel like he has Major League stuff,” Hyde said.

Hyde also noted the Orioles have much more pitching depth than previous years, so it could be more challenging for them to fit in a Rule 5 player. The bullpen is stacked with quality arms, even with Dillon Tate (right flexor forearm strain) expected to be out until mid-to-late April and closer Félix Bautista (left knee sprain/right shoulder fatigue) questionable for Opening Day.

Politi thrived in the upper levels of the Red Sox’s Minor League system last season, posting a 2.34 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP in 50 appearances (two starts) between Triple-A Worcester and Double-A Portland. He has a mid-90s fastball, a power slider and a curveball that he can consistently land for strikes.

While Politi is battling to prove he should break camp with the O’s and get his first opportunity in the Majors, that’s not where his focus is this spring.

“I’m not really thinking about it too much,” Politi said. “I’m just going out there and competing, doing what I do usually and just sticking to my routines.”

The World Baseball Classic impact
Three players on the Orioles’ 40-man roster will be leaving camp in mid-March to participate in the 2023 World Baseball Classic: right-hander Dean Kremer (Israel) and outfielders Cedric Mullins (United States) and Anthony Santander (Venezuela).

“We’ll try to get them ready as fast as we possibly can,” Hyde said.

The trio is ramping up much quicker than usual, which was evident Saturday morning on the backfields at Ed Smith Stadium. Kremer took the mound to throw live batting practice, with the two hitters he faced being Mullins and Santander.

The World Baseball Classic runs from March 7-21. Israel and Venezuela are both part of Pool D, so Kremer and Santander will be heading to Miami for March 11-15 pool play. The U.S. is part of Pool C which will send Mullins to Phoenix, where pool play also runs from March 11-15.

More from the backfields
• One of the big topics around camps this spring is the rule changes coming to MLB for the 2023 season. Teams are preparing for the pitch timer, shift restrictions and bigger bases, three factors they never had to previously consider.

Hyde is making sure Orioles players are mindful of the potential impacts, and on Saturday, he was seen discussing them with right-hander Kyle Gibson and catcher James McCann, two of the veteran players in camp:

• Cade Povich, Baltimore’s No. 14 prospect per MLB Pipeline, threw live batting practice against Adley Rutschman and Jorge Mateo. Povich, who came over from the Twins in the Jorge López trade last August, looked impressive and showcased some great swing-and-miss stuff:

• Jackson Holliday, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft and the No. 12 prospect in baseball, is participating in his first big league camp as a non-roster invitee. Unsurprisingly, he drew a large flock of fans seeking his autograph: