As the full-season minor leaguers head north to their assignments this weekend, the Orioles will have a high-profile player arriving in Sarasota, Fla.
Infielder Ryan Ripken, the son of Hall of Fame infielder and Orioles legend Cal Ripken Jr., has been signed to a minor league contract for Short-A Aberdeen and will report to extended spring training.
“Ryan’s a guy we had some interest in coming out of the draft; obviously, not just because he was Cal’s son,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s a big, strong kid. We had some good reports on him and we’re looking forward to giving him an opportunity.”
Showalter acknowledged that Ripken’s lineage was a factor, but reinforced it wasn’t the only reason the club wanted him.
“Without a doubt. That’s the human being part of it, but this is a baseball move. Whether he was Cal’s son or not, we would have signed him,” Showalter said. “We’re excited about getting him in. That’s just an added plus. Obviously, his pedigree is really, really good.”
Ripken, a Gilman product, first attended South Carolina before finishing his career with one year at Indian River State College, which produced former Orioles utility man Steve Pearce. During the summer, he played for Youse’s Orioles in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League in Baltimore.
The Washington Nationals selected him in the 15th round of the 2014 draft, and after two seasons in the Gulf Coast League, he split time in 2016 between Low-A Hagerstown and Short-A Auburn.
Ripken has hit .205/.248/.277 with three home runs and 48 RBIs in 145 minor league games, and was let go by the organization this spring.
The Orioles drafted him in the 20th round out of Gilman in 2012, but Ripken did not sign with the organization where his father, uncle Billy and grandfather Cal Sr. all made their marks.
In their post-playing careers, the family’s company, Ripken Baseball, runs several youth baseball programs and tournaments, along with owning the IronBirds.
Baltimore Sun columnist Peter Schmuck contributed to this article from Norfolk, Va.