The Orioles added left-handed pitcher Tim Berry, catcher Michael Ohlman and right-hander Eddie Gamboa to the organization's 40-man roster Wednesday in order to protect the trio from being selected in next month’s Rule 5 draft.
The club had to place draft-eligible players on the 40-man roster by midnight Wednesday. Their 40-man roster now sits at 36 players.
The 22-year-old Berry, a former 50th-round pick whose draft stock slipped when he needed Tommy John surgery following his senior year of high school in 2009, is coming off a season in which he's become a bona fide pitching prospect in the Orioles organization.
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At high Single-A Frederick, Berry went 11-7 with a 3.85 ERA in 27 starts for the Keys, recording a career-best 2.98 strikeout-to-walk ratio, learning to confidently throw his improved curveball and changeup with his low-90s fastball.
Pitching in the Arizona Fall League, Berry allowed just three earned runs over 14 2/3 innings (1.84 ERA) while striking out 11 and walking just three. He won both of his starts in the Arizona Fall League, throwing four shutout innings in each game.
Even though he still has two levels to go through before reaching the big leagues, the Orioles believe the 6-foot-3, 180-pound Berry could move through the farm system quickly.
Ohlman, also 22, enjoyed a breakthrough year at Frederick, hitting .313/.410/.524 with 29 doubles, 13 homers and 53 RBIs while splitting time between catcher (46 games) and designated hitter (53 games). As a taxi squad player in the Arizona Fall League – he could only play twice a week – Ohlman hit .290/.476/.774 with four homers and nine RBIs in 10 games. Seven of his nine hits were for extra bases.
An 11th-round pick in 2009, the 6-foot-4, 205-pound Ohlman won the Carolina League batting title and was named the Topps Carolina League Player of the Year. He now gives the Orioles three catchers on their 40-man roster behind starter Matt Wieters and Baltimore native Steve Clevenger.
Gamboa, who turns 29 next month, spent five years in the Orioles’ system, reaching Triple-A for just four appearances, before converting into a knuckleballer last season.
Gamboa worked closely with Hall of Fame knuckleballer Phil Niekro as he fought through some growing pains; he was 6-11 with a 4.43 ERA last season with Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk.
But he held opponents to a .206 batting average in his final five starts for Norfolk and has followed that up with 3-1 record and 1.38 ERA in six starts this offseason pitching for Navojoa in the Mexican Pacific League.
Among the draft-eligible players the Orioles did not protect were right-hander Oliver Drake, catcher Caleb Joseph and left-hander Jason Gurka.
Players who signed at the age of 18 must be protected five seasons after being drafted while players signed at age 19 or older must be added to 40-man rosters four years into their pro careers.
Major league teams pay $50,000 to select a player in the Rule 5 draft – this year’s will be held on Dec. 12 in Orlando on the final day of the Winter Meetings – and must keep the player on the 25-man roster for the entire season, or else he must be offered back to his old team for $25,000.
The Orioles have successfully drafted Rule 5 players each of the past two years, taking infielder Ryan Flaherty from the Cubs in 2012 and left-hander T.J. McFarland from the Indians last year.