One of the things I like to do once the season is over is break down the roster to see exactly how the players that made the majors initially joined the Orioles.
Although it’s not an absolute indicator, it does provide a snapshot as to how the minor-league system did in supporting the big-league roster and also how much the front office has depended on free-agent signings, trades, etc. As you’ll see on this list, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette isn’t kidding when he says he explores all avenues.
There were 47 players that either had an at-bat or threw a pitch for the big league club this season – infielder Ryan Flaherty did both, as a did a few pitchers. I didn’t include anyone who was called up to the team in 2016, but didn’t play in a game.
Of those 47 players, 20 are homegrown – initially signed or drafted by the Orioles. And, honestly, for all our complaining about the lack of depth in the Orioles’ minor league system, 20 of 47 isn’t bad. Although I don’t have numbers for every team, I’d assume that’s middle of the pack or better.
And although that includes guys who briefly appeared with the Orioles such as Ashur Tolliver, Trey Mancini, Ariel Miranda and Parker Bridwell, it also includes significant contributors such as Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop, Matt Wieters, Zach Britton and Kevin Gausman.
Note that a portion of the 47 are no longer with the organization. The line of distinction is playing for the club this past season.
Of the 20 Orioles’ draftees to play for the team in 2016, five were first-round picks, two were second-rounders and two were third-rounders. The only ones that were drafted beyond the 10th round by the Orioles and played for them this year were Donnie Hart (27th) and Oliver Drake (43rd).
There probably needs to be an asterisk concerning the homegrown players. I included Nolan Reimold, who was originally drafted by the Orioles, left and then came back as a free agent. Also included in that group are four international signings: Schoop, Hyun Soo Kim, Dariel Alvarez and Miranda. Alvarez and Miranda defected from Cuba and Kim was signed out of Korea as a pro – so really the only one in the “international” category that was acquired as a teen-aged amateur was Schoop. Signing and developing quality international amateurs has been a major weakness for the organization for years, and it shows here.
There were 27 Orioles in 2016 who came to the club from other organizations (if the Orioles re-signed their own free agent, I keep them in their original category for simplicity sake). Trades lead all categories, with 10 players acquired. And that’s a huge chunk of the Orioles core including Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones, Mark Trumbo, Chris Tillman and Brad Brach.
The Orioles actually had as many Rule 5 players (Joey Rickard, Ryan Flaherty and T.J. McFarland) as significant free agent signees (Pedro Alvarez, Ubaldo Jimenez and Yovani Gallardo) play for the club this year.
When I use the “significant” label, I’m referring to players that signed in an offseason to a big-league contract with some news interest; I’m not specifically judging quality. You can do that. But it’s pretty obvious that the core of this team was built on trades and high-draft picks that clicked.
Here’s the overall breakdown:
Matt Wieters (1st round), Manny Machado (1st), Nolan Reimold (2nd), Caleb Joseph (7th), Trey Mancini (8th), Jonathan Schoop (International), Hyun Soo Kim (International), Dariel Alvarez (International); Kevin Gausman (1st), Dylan Bundy (1st), Brian Matusz (1st), Mychal Givens (2nd), Zach Britton (3rd), Mike Wright (3rd), Ashur Tolliver (5th), Parker Bridwell (9th), Tyler Wilson (10th), Donnie Hart (27th), Oliver Drake (43rd), Ariel Miranda (International).
Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy, Mark Trumbo, Brad Brach, Wade Miley, Steve Pearce, Michael Bourn, Odrisamer Despaigne.
Lesser/minor league free agents (6)
Paul Janish, Julio Borbon, Brian Duensing, Tommy Hunter, Chaz Roe, Logan Ondrusek.
Significant/major league free agents (3)
Pedro Alvarez, Yovani Gallardo, Ubaldo Jimenez.
Rule 5 picks (3)
Joey Rickard, Ryan Flaherty, T.J. McFarland.
Drew Stubbs, Darren O’Day, Vance Worley.
Contracts purchased from another organization (2)
Francisco Pena, Jayson Aquino.