With their first game just three days away, the Orioles have decided to add both Rule 5 pitchers, Mac Sceroler and Tyler Wells, to their roster. The right-handed pitchers, who appeared to be long shots to make the team, impressed the Orioles enough for them to begin the 2021 season with them.
Sceroler, who was drafted out of the Cincinnati Reds organization, had a 6.43 ERA in seven spring innings. Wells, from the Minnesota Twins organization, allowed one earned run in nine innings.
“I’m excited to give the news to those two guys, and congratulations to both of them,” manager Brandon Hyde said Monday. “Excited to have both of those guys, and we’ll see how it goes.”
The Orioles won’t be able to option the right-handers to the minor leagues, and that could make things difficult. “I think that’s the challenge of any Rule 5 pick you have,” Hyde said.
In 2019, the Orioles began the season with two Rule 5 infielders, Drew Jackson and Richie Martin. They kept Martin, who was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on Friday, throughout the season. Jackson was sent back to the Los Angeles Dodgers early in the season.
Hyde thinks the sacrifice to keep Martin, who batted just .208, was worth it.
“Hopefully, that happens with both these guys as well,” Hyde said. “I like their stuff. They both have different weapons, and that Sceroler is more of a starter profile, a four-pitch mix. Hasn’t pitched much at the upper levels. We like the shape of his pitches, so he’s going to go in the ‘pen and be a long man for us.
“Tyler Wells has really pitched well in camp with an overpowering fastball at the top of the zone. He showed really good secondary stuff in his last time out against New York, and talking to him this afternoon, that was really an over-the-hump moment for him, going in to face some good middle-of-the-order bats with the Yankees, realizing that he could pitch against those guys.”
Hyde also informed infielders Ramón Urias and Pat Valaika that they had made the team.
The Orioles will carry 14 pitchers. Hyde’s starting rotation is John Means, Matt Harvey, Bruce Zimmermann¸ Jorge López and Dean Kremer.
Adam Plutko, who was acquired on Saturday from Cleveland, and Wade LeBlanc are likely to be used in long relief and as spot starters. That leaves five relievers to choose from.
Right-handers Shawn Armstrong and César Valdez don’t have options, and left-hander Tanner Scott has exceptional stufff. The final two pitchers could come from left-hander Paul Fry and right-handers Travis Lakins, Cole Sulser and Dillon Tate, all of whom were on the roster in 2020 and have options remaining.
“I thought our bullpen guys did a fairly nice job last year,” Hyde said. “We’re trying to create depth in the organization and depth in the upper levels. Just because you don’t start on the team April 1st doesn’t mean you’re not going to be on the team on April 7th.
“Anything can happen. We’re going to use a lot of players this year, a lot of pitchers. Hopefully, not a ton of position players, but I see a lot of pitchers being used. We’re going to need depth at Triple-A. We’re going to need all these guys that are on the roster.”
Félix Hernández’s requested release left 35 players in camp. Outfielder DJ Stewart is expected to begin the season on the 10-day injured list because of a hamstring injury. That leaves eight players to cut.
Pitchers Thomas Eshelman, Conner Greene, Eric Hanhold, catchers Nick Ciuffo and Austin Wynns and utilityman Stevie Wilkerson remain on the camp roster, but they’re all on minor league contracts and would have to be added to the 40-man roster.
Barring any other moves before the team leaves for Boston on Wednesday, the optioning of two relievers is the final order of spring training business. The team also will take five taxi squad players to Boston.