The Orioles today added three prospects to their 40-man roster, including promising starter Zach Britton, but opted not to protect 2006 first-round pick Billy Rowell.
That means that Rowell, a 22-year-old infielder who was picked ninth overall in 2006, one slot ahead of two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum, will be available to other teams in next month's Rule 5 draft.
It is unlikely that Rowell will be picked as Rule 5 selections have to be kept on the acquiring team's 25-man roster for the entire season or be offered back to their original club.
Rowell, 22, has played three consecutive seasons at Single-A Frederick, showing few signs that he's near major league ready. He hit .275 with 11 homers and 61 RBIs in 117 games in 2010, and if he stays in the organization as expected, he'll likely get his long-awaited promotion to Double-A Bowie in 2011.
Britton, the organization's top pitching prospect and its minor league Pitcher of the Year last year, went 7-3 with a 2.48 ERA in 15 starts at Bowie and then 3-4 with a 2.98 ERA in 12 starts with Triple-A Norfolk. Though it's unlikely that the 22-year-old starts the 2011 campaign in the Orioles' rotation, it would be surprising if he didn't make his big league debut at some point during the season.
The other additions to the 40-man roster are first baseman Joe Mahoney and outfielder Matt Angle. Mahoney, 23, was named the organization's minor league Player of the Year after hitting .307 and tallying 18 homers and 78 RBIs in 124 combined games at Single-A and Double-A.
Angle, 25, whose best tools are his speed and defense, hit .383 in 14 games for Bowie before moving up to Norfolk, where he batted .260 with one homer and 24 RBIs. He'll likely return to Norfolk for another season.
Minor leaguers who have been in the organization for four or five years, depending on their age when they signed, and have yet to be put on the 40-man roster are eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 draft.
The list of Orioles minor leaguers who are eligible to be drafted Dec. 9 on the final day of baseball's winter meetings includes infielders Ryan Adams and Brandon Waring; outfielder Tyler Henson; starting pitcher Steve Johnson (St. Paul's); and relievers Pedro Beato, Brandon Cooney, Pat Egan and Wynn Pelzer.
With the three additions today, the Orioles' 40-man roster stands at 35.
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