There’s one certainty entering next week’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn. The Orioles will actively participate in Thursday’s Rule 5 draft.
They always do.
In Dan Duquette’s four years running the show, the Orioles have selected Ryan Flaherty, T.J. McFarland, Michael Almanzar and Jason Garcia in the Rule 5.
Flaherty and McFarland have contributed at the big league level. Almanzar hasn’t, but played decently at Norfolk last year, and Garcia was the biggest risk of all.
The Orioles have high hopes for the 23-year-old. They’ve invested lots of time, and most importantly, three critical months on him.
Garcia was taken by Houston in last year’s Rule 5 and immediately shipped off to the Orioles for cash considerations.
His arm, especially in spring training, impressed the team, and they worked diligently with him. After the final out of the season’s last game on Oct. 4, pitching coach Dave Wallace walked out to the bullpen to watch Garcia throw his last side session of 2015.
Garcia, who missed three months with a shoulder injury, got in some more time in the Arizona Fall League.
While he allowed just seven hits in 15 1/3 innings, Garcia walked a horrifying 15 batters in the AFL.
Manager Buck Showalter had to pick his spots with Garcia last season. Before he was put on the disabled list in May, he struck eight and walked 11 in 13 2/3 innings. When he returned in August, Garcia was much better, going 1-0 with a 2.81 ERA in 13 games, striking out 14 and walking six.
Scouts are divided on Garcia, one thinks that he’s a legitimate prospect, another says he’s a decent one, and a third isn’t high on him at all, saying that he relies too much on his fastball and his secondary pitches aren’t a factor at all. He goes so far as to predict that Garcia could be off the 40-man roster a year from now.
His supporters say that Garcia has an electric fastball, and the Orioles made a smart move in drafting him.
All three scouts say that the Orioles should send him to Bowie to begin 2016 and that he should start to build up innings. Two of the scouts think he can be a contributor later in the season.
Garcia had Tommy John surgery in 2013 when he was pitching in the Red Sox organization, and prior to last season, had never pitched above Low A ball.
The Orioles scouted him in the Instructional League, and afraid someone else would draft him from Boston, made a deal with the Astros to take him.
With a roster spot open on the 40-man, perhaps the Orioles use it to take an outfielder in the draft, or maybe they’ll find a prospect as good as many think Garcia is.
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