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How good is the Orioles minor league system?

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How good is the Orioles minor league system?

The surest way to get Dan Duquette angry is to disparage the Orioles’ farm system. At December’s FanFest, he told season ticket holders not to believe any “crap” they heard about the team’s minor leagues.

Just this week, Baseball America ranked the Orioles 27th in organizational talent rankings. Only Seattle, Miami and the Los Angeles Angels trail the Orioles.

A year ago, the Orioles were ranked 28th. When Duquette took over baseball operations in Nov. 2011, he inherited a team with the 21st best farm system and vowed to improve it. A year later, it was 20th, and moved up to 17th in 2013 and 12th in 2014 before falling back to 28th a year ago.

When Duquette took over, the top rated farm system in baseball was Kansas City’s and four years later, they were the World Series champ.

Last year’s top team was the Chicago Cubs, which surprised many with their run to the National League Championship Series.

This year’s top three are the Dodgers, Astros and Braves. Atlanta, in full rebuilding mode, jumped from 29th to third.

But, what does this really tell you about the system?

A year ago, Mychal Givens wasn’t really a prospect—except in the minds of some in the Orioles organization. Unprotected in the Rule 5 draft, Givens wasn’t invited to major league camp, but by June, the converted infielder was in the majors, a full six years after he was drafted.

RELATED: Why the Orioles offseason was a resounding success

Caleb Joseph wasn’t protected in Dec. 2013’s Rule 5, and when Matt Wieters was injured in May 2014, he came up to the majors and played creditably—a full six years after he was drafted.

Seventeen of the 40 players on the Orioles roster were originally signed by the Orioles. Three: Dariel Alvarez, Jonathan Schoop and Henry Urrutia were international free agents. The other 14: Givens, Joseph, Wieters, Parker Bridwell, Zach Britton, Dylan Bundy, Oliver Drake, Kevin Gausman, Manny Machado, Brian Matusz, Nolan Reimold, Christian Walker, Tyler Wilson and Mike Wright.

Other players on the 40-man, Chris Lee and Andrew Triggs are considered good prospects, but weren’t originally drafted by the Orioles and haven’t played with another major league team. Add in Rule 5 draft choices Ryan Flaherty, Jason Garcia, T.J. McFarland and Joey Rickard, and you’ll see that more than half the 40-man didn’t play for anyone else.

While the Orioles would have liked to have held onto their first round pick in this year’s draft, and perhaps the compensatory selection they received when Wei-Yin Chen signed elsewhere, as Buck Showalter likes to say, the best way to judge a team’s draft is by rounds 5 through 15.

Joseph was a seventh-rounder, Drake was picked in the 43rd round and Wilson a 10th rounder.

Many fans judge a draft by the first rounders. Machado was the third overall pick in 2010, but no other player taken in that draft has yet to play for the Orioles. Bridwell, who is on the 40-man for the first time this year, was taken in the ninth round.

Givens is the only player from the 2009 draft in the majors though Ashur Tolliver, a fifth-round pick, will be in major league camp for the first time when it opens on Thursday.

The team’s best draft in recent years could have been 2008 when Matusz, Xavier Avery, L.J. Hoes, Kyle Hudson and Joseph were five of the first seven picks. Avery and Hoes are non-roster invitees to this year’s camp.

If Bundy, Wilson and Wright develop, 2011 could be one of the best in recent history, and for the more recent drafts, we’ll just have to wait. Gausman and Walker are the only players drafted in 2012 or later to reach the majors.

Trey Mancini, who led the Eastern League in hitting, and was the team’s eight-round selection in 2013, surprisingly wasn’t included on Baseball America’s Top 100 prospect list. The Orioles will get a look at him in camp.

While the Orioles would prefer to hang to their draft picks, they believe they have the opportunity to challenge again in the AL East if they sign Yovani Gallardo and perhaps add another hitter.

If they’re celebrating eight months from now, they’ll not care where their minor leaguers were ranked.

MORE ORIOLES: Former Orioles reliever Tommy Hunter signs with Indians

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Machado homers as Orioles beat Rangers 6-5

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USA TODAY Sports

Machado homers as Orioles beat Rangers 6-5

For well over six seasons, Manny Machado's value to the Baltimore Orioles has been solely his ability to hit and play the field.

All that has changed, now that the Orioles are looking to receive a huge return for their All-Star shortstop in a blockbuster trade.

Machado homered before being removed on a wet day, Adam Jones hit a three-run double and Baltimore rallied past the Texas Rangers 6-5 Sunday.

Machado was taken out of the game in the fifth inning by manager Buck Showalter after a 26-minute rain delay. The move was designed to get their star player off a sloppy field, because the last-place Orioles are entertaining offers for Machado before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

"Obviously there's a different situation going on with Manny. You all know that," Showalter said. "That had a lot to do with it."

Plain and simple, the Orioles can't afford to have Machado get hurt. Now, more than ever.

"A month ago he wouldn't have come out of the game," Showalter acknowledged. "We know that. You know it."

After being replaced by Jace Peterson, Machado sat in the dugout, wearing a sweatshirt and joking with his teammates.

"I don't know why (Showalter) did it or not," Machado said. "He just told me, `I'm going to take you out. You had a good first half and go represent us well in the All-Star Game.'"

Machado is Baltimore's lone representative for Tuesday's showcase. He has spent his entire career in Baltimore, but his contract expires after this season and the Orioles don't appear interested in locking him up with a long-term deal.

"I'm going to the All-Star Game as an Oriole and as a shortstop. It's just always a blessing," Machado said. "I thank God. I thank my family for always supporting me, my teammates, the fans, the organization. I mean it's just been very incredible."

In a matchup between two teams staggering into the break, Texas got a first-inning grand slam from rookie Ronald Guzman but quickly gave the lead away in losing for the seventh time in nine games.

Machado ignited the comeback with his 24th homer, and Jones' bases-clearing double in the third off Mike Minor (6-6) put Baltimore ahead to stay.

"I'll be fine," said Minor, who yielded five earned runs in 2 2/3 innings. "I'll reflect a little bit and then get back to it."

The game ended when Texas pinch-runner Carlos Tocci was thrown out at the plate on a double by Elvis Andrus. Running from first base, Tocci was tagged out by catcher Caleb Joseph following throws by right fielder Mark Trumbo and second baseman Jonathan Schoop.

"Textbook," Showalter said.

Texas manager Jeff Bannister called it a "situation where they had to throw it on line to throw Tocci out. They executed well."

Tanner Scott (1-1), the first of four Baltimore relievers, earned his first big league win.

Zach Britton, another Oriole supposedly on the trading block, worked the ninth for his fourth save, the second in two days.

Texas broke on top when Miguel Castro issued three straight walks and Guzman sent a one-out drive over the right-field wall for his first career grand slam.

It was 4-1 in the third when Joseph hit an RBI double and Jones doubled down the left-field line following a walk to Machado.

Shin-Soo Choo homered in the seventh to get the Rangers to 6-5.

STREAKY

Choo opened the game with a walk, extending to 51 his single-season club record streak of games reaching base via a hit, walk or HBP. ... Texas' Delino DeShields went 0 for 3, stretching his hitless drought to 28 at-bats. ... Jones snapped a 1-for-16 skid with his third-inning double.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rangers: RF Nomar Mazara was given the day off after hurting his hand Saturday night in the outfield.

Orioles: RHP Chris Tillman (back) was set to make his final rehab start Sunday for Triple-A Norfolk. ... INF Steve Wilkerson (oblique) and OF Craig Gentry (rib fracture) likely won't come off the DL before August, Showalter said. ... RHP Andrew Cashner (neck strain) will be activated from the DL on Saturday or Sunday to face Toronto, Showalter said.

UP NEXT

Rangers: The rotation after the All-Star break, beginning Friday against visiting Cleveland: Martin Perez, Bartolo Colon, Cole Hamels, Yovani Gallardo and Minor.

Orioles: After the All-Star break, Dylan Bundy will start at Toronto on Friday night.

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Orioles unable to punch in final run late against Rangers

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Orioles unable to punch in final run late against Rangers

BALTIMORE -- Ryan Rua had a tiebreaking, pinch-hit three-run homer in the seventh inning and the Texas Rangers held on to beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-4 Friday night to snap a three-game losing streak.

Cole Hamels (5-8) won for the first time in almost a month, allowing four runs and five hits with three strikeouts and one walk over 6 1/3 innings in a matchup of last-place teams.

Rua broke a 1-1 deadlock with the first pinch-hit of his career, off rookie Tanner Scott. Nomar Mazara added an RBI double later that inning, which made it 5-1 and boosted Scott's ERA from 5.88 to 6.84 over 26 appearances.

Baltimore pulled within a run on Caleb Joseph's three-run double against reliever Jose Leclerc in the bottom half of the inning. The Orioles loaded the bases in the eighth but Jake Diekman got out of the jam by getting Chris Davis on a short pop out.

Keone Kela got the last three outs for his 23rd save.

The Orioles have lost 17 of 20 and fell to 14-33 at Camden Yards, the second-worst home mark in the majors behind Kansas City.

Joey Gallo gave the Rangers the lead when he led off the fifth with a home run off Alex Cobb (2-12). The Orioles answered in the bottom half when Adam Jones hit a double just inside the left-field foul line and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Danny Valencia.

Cobb left his previous start against the Twins in the sixth inning with a blister on his right index finger. He did not appear hampered by the injury and allowed two runs and six hits with three strikeouts and no walks over 6 1/3 innings.