Orioles add infield depth, taking Martin, Jackson in Rule 5 draft - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Orioles add infield depth, taking Martin, Jackson in Rule 5 draft

Photo credit: Rick Scuteri - USA TODAY Sports

LAS VEGAS—The Orioles came away from the Rule 5 draft with players they wanted. They selected shortstop Richie Martin from the Oakland Athletics organization. The Orioles had the first pick in the draft, and Martin was who they targeted all along.

Martin was Oakland’s first-round pick in 2015, and last year hit .300 with six home runs and 42 RBIs for Double-A Midland. He stole 25 bases and was thrown out 10 times.

The Orioles acquired infielder Drew Jackson from the Philadelphia Phillies for international signing bonus money. Jackson was selected by the Phillies with the 11th selection in the Rule 5 draft.

Jackson was a fifth-round selection by Seattle in the 2015 draft. He hit .251 with 15 home runs and 46 RBIs for Double-A Tulsa. He can play shortstop and second base.

“Shortstops are a hole right now,” Tripp Norton, Orioles director of baseball operations said. “Acquiring both Richie and Drew gives us options to look at in spring training to see what we can do with our shortstop situation.

The Orioles also have Jonathan Villar, who general manager Mike Elias labeled the team’s “primary shortstop” on Monday.

“With Richie, we saw him as an above-average defender with plus-range and a plus arm at short, somebody that can also move over to second base,” Norton said.

Even though Martin was the most highly publicized of draft-eligible players, Norton said the selection wasn’t assured.

“There was a lot of discussion on it. It wasn’t a slam-dunk,” Norton said.

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This is the third consecutive year the Orioles have taken multiple players in the Rule 5 draft. Norton said the Orioles had a list of four or five players, who were all taken quickly.

“Drew is a very versatile infielder, similar to Ryan Flaherty,” Norton said. “Offensively, they’re similar players and can provide above-average defense.”

The Orioles didn’t lose any players in the major league portion of the draft and have a full 40-man roster.

They picked right-handed pitcher Taylor Grover from Cincinnati in the minor league draft. Grover, once a 10th-round selection by Boston, played independent ball last season, and the Orioles liked that his fastball occasionally reached 100 mph.

“Our pitching people are excited to bring him to the organization and see where we can take him,” Kent Qualls, director of minor league operations said.

Corban Joseph, who hit .222 (4-for-18) with three RBIs in 14 games for the Orioles, was selected by Oakland in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft. The Orioles also lost outfielder Randolph Gassaway, right-hander Jeffeson Medina and first baseman Wilson Garcia.

“I’m not surprised Corban was selected,” Qualls said. “His performance last year, his on-base capability, I’m sure that’s something that attracted Oakland.”

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