After a quiet week at baseball's winter meetings, the Orioles added a pair of right-handed pitchers in Thursday's Rule 5 draft who the organization believes can help the major league roster.
The club acquired Jason Garcia from the Houston Astros in exchange for cash considerations after he was selected fourth overall from the Boston Red Sox. With their pick later in the draft, the Orioles took Logan Verrett from the New York Mets.
Garcia, 22, was 3-2 with three saves and a 3.67 ERA in 14 combined games (seven starts) with short-season Single-A Lowell and Low-A Greenville in 2014. Garcia struck out 9.4 batters per nine innings and held right-handed hitters to a .189 average.
Verrett, 24, was 11-5 with a 4.33 ERA in 28 starts for the Mets' Triple-A club in Las Vegas this past season. He also was 12-6 with a 4.25 ERA in 24 starts for Double-A Binghamton in 2013.
The Orioles believe they have one high-upside project in Garcia and a pitcher with a track record of success in Verrett, according to executive vice president Dan Duquette.
Garcia, a 17th-round pick in the 2010 first-year player draft, arrived on the Orioles' radar while pitching for the Red Sox's instructional league team. He has recovered from Tommy John surgery and his fastball is 95-98 mph with a complimentary slider and changeup.
"We saw him a lot," Duquette said. "I think he pitched against 18 of our hitters and struck out 14 of them in the instructional league this fall. He's a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher. He has a nice delivery, good secondary pitches. Although he's only pitched in Class-A ball, he has very good equipment and skills to be a major league pitcher."
Duquette is also high on Verrett, a 2011 third-round pick out of Baylor who has a career 28-13 minor league record and 3.89 ERA and has pitched well at every level.
The club is impressed by Verrett's control -- he has a career 4.4 strikeout-to-walk ratio -- and his slider. While he has been a starter for his entire professional career, it's uncertain where he will slot with the Orioles in spring training.
"He won at Baylor, he won as Double-A, he won at Triple-A, and he should be able to compete for a major league job," Duquette said of Verrett. "Where he ends up in the big leagues, who knows, but he's got excellent control and he's got a really good slider that can get out left- and right-handed hitters."
It marked the fourth consecutive year under Duquette that the Orioles made a pick in the Rule 5 draft. Players selected must be carried on the team's active roster all season or offered back to the original club.
The Orioles also selected Sean Halton from the Milwaukee Brewers in the Triple-A portion of the draft Thursday. Halton, who will report to Triple-A Norfolk, can play first base, both corner outfield spots and slot in at designated hitter.
Halton, 27, hit .238 with four home runs and 17 RBIs in 42 major league games with Milwaukee in 2013. He batted .293 with eight homers and 63 RBIs with Triple-A Nashville this past season, and has been on the Orioles' radar since two years ago, when he was scouted while playing winter ball for Licey in the Dominican Republic.
"He's a big, strong, right-handed hitter with power, but he's also got a real good on-base percentage," Orioles minor league operations director Kent Qualls said. "We think he'll be a good contributor in Triple-A and, you never know, might help us in the big leagues."
The Orioles didn't lose any players in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft this year. They lost two pitchers in the Triple-A phase -- right-handers Mikey O'Brien and Alex Santana off Double-A Bowie's roster.
The club had signed O'Brien, 24, in early November to a minor league deal, and he was a candidate to compete for a Triple-A or Double-A spot this spring.
Santana, 23, was 2-1 with a 3.20 ERA in 20 appearances between short-season Single-A Aberdeen, Low-A Delmarva and Bowie last season.
"He's a strike-thrower," Qualls said of Santana, a converted catcher. "He did pretty well, but we do have a lot of pitching depth as well."
The Orioles didn't make a selection in the Double-A portion of the draft.