Orioles select right-handers Brandon Bailey, Michael Rucker in Rule 5 draft - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Winter Meetings Coverage

Orioles select right-handers Brandon Bailey, Michael Rucker in Rule 5 draft

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

SAN DIEGO—The Orioles concluded the Winter Meetings by making two selections in the Rule 5 draft, right-handed pitchers Brandon Bailey, taken from the Houston Astros organization, and Michael Rucker, from the Chicago Cubs. Both are 25.

Bailey, who was a sixth-round pick by Oakland in 2016 and traded to Houston in 2017 for outfielder Ramón Laureano, was 4-5 with a 3.30 ERA for Double-A Corpus Christi in 2019.

“Bailey has a strong track record of performance everywhere he’s been, including at the Double-A level in a starting capacity,” said Mike Snyder, the Orioles’ director of pro scouting.

“He has a full assortment of weapons to left-handed hitters and to right-handed hitters, and we’re excited to see what he can do in the spring.”

Rucker, an 11th-round choice of the Cubs in 2016, was 0-3 with a 4.18 ERA in 36 games with Triple-A Iowa and Double-A Tennessee in 2019.

“Rucker pitches off a riding fastball, two-plus breaking balls, and he mixes in a nice changeup as well,” Snyder said.

“We think both players have an interesting mix of strike-throwing ability as well as strong pitches to help them compete in the American League East.”

The Orioles have been searching for starting pitcher options, and they’re hoping that Bailey could be one.

“It’s a difficult jump for anybody to pitch in the major leagues, no matter where you come from,” Snyder said. “It certainly takes a strong individual to make that jump, no matter where you come from.


“… With these guys, in particular, this is a calculated risk. We like both these players. We think they have a good shot.”

Bailey and Rucker must be kept on the roster all season.

“For them, it’s a great opportunity to win a spot,” Snyder said.

This is the 14th straight Rule 5 draft that the Orioles have selected at least one player, and the fourth consecutive one that results in two selections.

The Orioles’ roster is now at 40 players. They didn’t lose any players. The most prominent players left unprotected were right-handed pitchers Gray Fenter and Cody Sedlock.

“It’s a strategic decisions on who to protect,” Snyder said. “It’s always a risk. We were hopeful, and it worked out well for us.

In the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft, the Orioles drafted 21-year-old outfielder Cristopher Cespedes and 23-year-old second baseman Wilbis Santiago, from Cleveland.

Cespedes hit .326 with a .930 OPS for an Indians rookie league team, and Santiago hit .312 for High-A Lynchburg and Low-A Lake County in 2019.

“Cristopher Cespedes had kind of a breakout season this year,” said Kent Qualls, the Orioles’ director of minor league administration. “A real interesting, toolsy kid.

“… Santiago has always hit throughout his career, hits for a high batting average, a really low strikeout rate.”

Qualls thinks Cespedes will play for Low-A Delmarva, and that Santiago will play for Double-A Bowie in 2020.

They lose right-handed pitcher Ruben Garcia, who pitched for Short Season Aberdeen and Delmarva, to Detroit and right-handed pitcher Jhon Peluffo to Cleveland.

“We’re developing a deeper farm system,” Qualls said. “Certainly hate to lose any player, but those are some of the decisions and choices we have to make … As we go forward and the farm system gets deeper, I think the reality is most clubs, as you saw today, that have deep farm systems, lose a few players.”

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. jimcarter

    December 12, 2019 at 2:40 pm

    Everyone should note the Orioles didn’t lose anyone in the ML phase of the draft. Of course; this is usually the case, but that doesn’t stop a lot of angst for a week or more about who wasn’t protected. It’s time to embrace the idea that the organization’s players are not held in high esteem by the other teams. Elias will need some good luck and years of effort to change perceptions as well as the team’s record.

  2. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    December 12, 2019 at 4:21 pm

    I thought they would draft Brown or Sheffield both ranked prospects instead of Bailey and Rucker Hopefully one or both can pitch well enough to improve the pitching staff and make the team. I am glad that we didn’t lose Sedlock or Fenter both pitched well last year

  3. Bman

    December 12, 2019 at 4:46 pm

    I thought the additions were good pick ups and I’m interested to see how they play out this year. Icing on the top that we didn’t lose Sedlock or Fenter. Well done! A few more trades and a couple veteran pick ups, and will be ready to roll in the spring training…

  4. Bancells Moustache

    December 12, 2019 at 5:05 pm

    I’m not about to say I know anything whatsoever about any of these guys. Curious what Elias and Mejdal saw in an 11th rounder who was 0-3 with a 4.18 ERA. Guess we’ll find out…

    • Camden Brooks

      December 12, 2019 at 5:21 pm

      3.26 ERA as a professional isn’t too shabby, but like you said, we will see.

    • CalsPals

      December 13, 2019 at 7:47 am

      Oh well…go O’s…

  5. Raymo

    December 12, 2019 at 5:24 pm

    I heard that MLB is going ahead with the 3 batter rule for pitchers. I suppose they’re doing this to reduce the downtime during a game. So my (possibly naive) question to the community is, why does a relief pitcher need to warm up again on the mound? Isn’t that what the bullpen is for? Why not use a clock that allows 2 minutes from the manager’s signal to being ready to throw? Of course, that would not apply in the case of someone coming in unexpectedly due to injury.

    • Borg

      December 12, 2019 at 5:37 pm

      The bullpen mound isn’t the mound they’ll be throwing from, I always felt it was not to get their arm loose as much as to adjust to the new mound after the bullpen session.

  6. Raymo

    December 12, 2019 at 6:05 pm

    Well then, why not mandate that all mounds must be built to the same specifications? I’m not trying to be argumentative, just trying to understand why it has to take so long to change pitchers.

    • Camden Brooks

      December 12, 2019 at 8:15 pm

      I have no doubt MLB stadiums strive to have uniform mounds in the bullpens and playing fields. In actuality, my guess is there are subtle differences that warrant a pitcher being allowed to throw a few from the stadium field once they come in from the pen.

  7. geevee3

    December 12, 2019 at 10:20 pm

    Even as simple a difference as who preceded you on the mound, where their front foot landing spot was, and what affect the opposing pitcher has had on the wear and tear, is drastic enough to require adjustment. Pitching is a very fine tuned athletic skill. Many small things effect it.

    • Raymo

      December 12, 2019 at 10:42 pm

      Thanks for all the responses. I see that my proposal won’t work.

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