On Thursday, the Orioles officially completed the Winter Meetings by drafting left-hander T.J. McFarland from the Indians in the Rule 5 draft.
That pick comes after the Orioles had great success last season in the Rule 5, getting a promising roster piece in infielder Ryan Flaherty.
After a rookie season in which Flaherty’s bat really progressed after a stint on the disabled list. Flaherty hit .255 after coming off the DL and was the first Rule 5 pick to homer in a postseason game with a solo shot at Yankee Stadium in Game 3 of the American League Division Series.
He hit seven homers in 178 plate appearances last season, including the postseason, so he showed some good power given limited playing time.
And Flaherty is one of the reasons that executive vice president Dan Duquette is comfortable with the second base position. Flaherty, along with newcomer Alexi Casilla and veteran Brian Roberts, who is recovering from hip surgery, give the Orioles plenty of options, Duquette has said.
Now it's about getting Flaherty more seasoning. Now that he's met the Rule 5 criteria, he could be sent down to the minors.
The Orioles sent Flaherty to play winter ball in the Dominican to get him some more at-bats. And while he’s initially struggled with Escogido, going 5-for-26 (.192 average) in eight games, there is reason to be pleased with Flaherty’s performance.
The goal is to allow Flaherty to play every day in the Dominican, something he wasn’t able to do last season because he had to spend the entire year at the major league level as a Rule 5 pick. The Orioles would like to see how Flaherty handles routine.
It’s obviously a small sample size, but the left-handed Flaherty is hitting left-handed pitching well (4-for-11, .364 average). He hit left-handed pitching well last season (3-for-12, .250 average), but rarely played against lefties. He’s also 3-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
Casilla, a switch hitter, hits left-handed pitching (.296) much better than right-handers (.224) for his career.
Also of note, right-hander reliever Pedro Strop has allowed just one hit and has two strikeouts over two relief innings for Escogido since joing the Dominican Winter League last week.