One of several offseason roster deadlines arrived tonight at midnight, when teams must set their 40-man rosters for next month's Rule 5 draft.
The Orioles must place certain players with minor-league experience on their 40-man or risk losing them in the Rule 5. Last season, the Orioles selected infielder Ryan Flaherty from the Cubs in the Rule 5. Teams must keep Rule 5 picks on their major league roster for the entire season or pass the player through waivers and offer him back to the team he was drafted from.
The Orioles currently have 39 spots filled on their 40-man roster. They added UMBC product Zach Clark, who was 15-7 with a 2.79 ERA with Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk.
The club will most certainly add infielder Jonathan Schoop, who has been a top-three prospect in the organization the past two seasons, to the 40-man roster.
The 21-year-old Schoop put up a .245/.324/.386 line with 14 homers and 56 RBIs last season at Double-A Bowie and is coming off a strong spring in the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .270/.446/.429 in 21 games with the Mesa Solar Sox.
Last month, Baseball America ranked Schoop the Orioles' No. 3 prospect behind pitchers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman.
Another likely candidate who could be added to the 40-man today is left-handed reliever Mike Belfiore, who was the player to be named later in last May's Josh Bell trade.
The 24-year-old Belfiore was 5-1 with a 2.85 ERA in 28 relief appearances with 50 strikeouts and 43 hits allowed in 47 1/3 innings at Double-A Bowie and also pitched well in the Arizona Fall League, where he pitched in the AFL Rising Stars Game. He was 1-1 with a 4.38 ERA in 12 1/3 innings with the Mesa Solar Sox.
"He's had a good year," Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said. "He had a good year in Double-A and did well in Arizona."
Since there is just one spot available on the 40-man, the Orioles would need to take a player off to add both Schoop and Belfiore. Right-handed pitcher Oliver Drake and outfielder Steve Pearce, as well as infielder Omar Quintanilla are possibilities.
Duquette said he hopes to have the Orioles' roster set by the end of business today.
Two types of players are eligible for the Rule 5 draft, those who were drafted at the age of 18 or younger and have five or more years of minor league service time and those who were drafted at 19 or older who have at least four years of minor league service.
One player the Orioles could risk losing is catcher Brian Ward, who has shown to be a strong backstop, but his bat has yet to develop. Ward hit just .217/.324/.267 in 50 games at Double-A Bowie and is coming of a 50-game suspension for a failed drug test.
It is rare, however, for teams to select catchers in the Rule 5 draft since they have to be carried on the major league roster the entire season.
This year's Rule 5 draft will take place on Dec. 6, the final day of the Winter Meetings in Nashville.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun