Orioles ready for minor league Rule 5 draft; Kurkjian wins Career Excellence Award; Call for questions - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Orioles ready for minor league Rule 5 draft; Kurkjian wins Career Excellence Award; Call for questions

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

If there hadn’t been a Major League Baseball lockout, the Winter Meetings would be taking place in Orlando Florida, and concluding Wednesday afternoon with the Rule 5 draft.

The major league Rule 5 draft is on hold, pending a Collective Bargaining Agreement, but the minor league Rule 5 draft will be held on Wednesday afternoon.

The Orioles have had success with major league Rule 5 picks, taking first baseman/outfielder Jay Gibbons in 2000, infielder Ryan Flaherty in 2011, left-hander T.J. McFarland in 2012, outfielder Anthony Santander in 2017, and right-hander Tyler Wells in 2020. However, they haven’t had similar success in the minor league draft.

Each team is limited to protecting 38 players on its Triple-A roster, and teams pay $24,000 for each player claimed. Unlike the major league Rule 5 draft, teams don’t have to keep a player at a certain level. It’s more like a purchase, and they can be assigned to any level in the minors.

Last year, the Orioles selected three players — right-handed relievers Ignacio Feliz and Rickey Ramirez and catcher Chris Hudgins.

Feliz was 4-0 with a 1.05 ERA and two saves in 12 games at Low-A Delmarva but was 0-3 with a 9.33 ERA in nine games for High-A Aberdeen. Ramirez was 4-1 with four saves and a 4.05 ERA in 23 games in the Florida Complex League and Delmarva. Hudgins hit .198 with eight home runs and 32 RBIs in 60 games for Double-A Bowie and played three games for Triple-A Norfolk.

One of the better-known Oriole minor league Rule 5 picks was catcher Martin Cervenka, who was taken in 2017. Cervenka, a native of the Czech Republic, played 12 games with Norfolk in 2019 but moved on to the New York Mets’ organization in 2021.

Infielder Corban Joseph, brother of Caleb, was taken by Oakland in the minor league Rule 5 draft after playing 18 games for the Orioles in 2018. Joseph played with the Athletics, San Francisco and Pittsburgh in 2019 and was in the Washington Nationals’ organization in 2021.

The players drafted in the minor league Rule 5 draft are more likely minor league depth pieces, but if there are catchers available, the Orioles could take one.


Kurkjian gets highest honor: Tim Kurkjian, the longtime ESPN.com columnist and analyst for ESPN, was voted the winner of the Career Excellence Award by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Kurkjian will receive the award during Hall of Fame induction weekend in Cooperstown, New York on July 22nd-25th.

From 1986-1989, Kurkjian covered the Orioles for The Baltimore Sun and competed against Evening Sun writer Ken Rosenthal, a senior writer for The Athletic.

Rosenthal admires Kurkjian, who he freely admits regularly bested him on a highly competitive beat, teaching him in the process.

“That’s the greatest impact he had on me,” Rosenthal said. “You had to work. I sort of knew that … but I had never covered a team like the Orioles. I had come from a smaller paper in New Jersey.

“Watching him work, that was the first thing, and it was really intimidating because he was really just relentless. He taught me a lot about the game itself, unwittingly by the way he approached it.”

Kurkjian would tell Rosenthal and other writers how difficult the game was to play.

“The message was: ‘Don’t rip these guys so easily. This game is hard, and it’s hard to play. You have to understand that.’

“It was a combination of work and baseball itself, which I didn’t really know that well. I was really green in that regard when I came to The Evening Sun. Honestly, I didn’t even know how to calculate a lot of the statistics. I just didn’t know the game that well, and here I am with a guy knew it arguably better that anybody in the country.

“You couldn’t help but figure out the lessons he was teaching.”

Like Rosenthal, who works for Fox and the MLB Network, Kurkjian, Jayson Stark and Peter Gammons have combined successful television work while continuing to write.

“He showed, and Jayson Stark did, too, that guys like us could be national guys, and that was something that I had never really considered,” Rosenthal said.

Kurkjian beat out the late Marty Noble, who was a longtime New York writer, and Allan Simpson, the founder of Baseball America.

He’s the second Baltimore writer to win the award. Sam Lacy, who worked for the Baltimore Afro-American, won the award in 1997.

Newman wins award: Orioles broadcaster Melanie Newman won the 2021 Ballpark Digest award for MLB broadcaster of the year.

Newman, who has worked on Orioles radio and television for the past two seasons, also broadcast games for YouTubeTV and ESPN in 2021.

Call for questions: In the coming days, I’ll be answering questions from readers. Please leave them in the comments below or email them to: [email protected].

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB




  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    December 8, 2021 at 8:37 am

    Winter has arrived.

    Good for Tim K. Have always been a fan of is stuff. Very knowledgeable.

    Good pic of the Boy Genius on his phone. Probably engaged in a rousing game of Candy Crush.

  2. Orioles20

    December 8, 2021 at 9:21 am

    I wouldn’t necessarily say that guys like Jay Gibbons was a success. Dude took steroids and had one good year. Flaherty was decent never really did anything to say he was a good player. He was a utility guy who could occasionally hit for power. McFarland sucked here. Blew way to many games and way to many chances. Now Santander and Wells look to be successful rule five picks. Tim kurkijan is a good writer but hates the orioles.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 8, 2021 at 9:34 am

      Glad you’re having such a nice day, Orioles20.

    • willmiranda

      December 8, 2021 at 10:57 am

      OK, 20, I’ll bite. Flaherty was a good player. Now there’s something, a quote, to say it.

      • Buzz1979

        December 8, 2021 at 11:49 am

        Who finished with a career batting average the same as Mario Mendoza, at .216, 7 points higher than Scott Coolbaugh!

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        December 8, 2021 at 1:44 pm

        I agree WillM … Flaherty filled in quite nicely on more than a couple of occasions. Had he played on a daily basis, he was certainly an upper 20s HomeRun kind of guy that was a jack of all trades defensive player. Every team needs one.

      • Buzz1979

        December 8, 2021 at 2:19 pm

        So, that means Mendoza was, too!

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          December 8, 2021 at 4:53 pm

          Never saw Mendoza play. Did you?

    • jimcarter

      December 8, 2021 at 3:58 pm

      Gibbons hit 121 homers as an Oriole and none were deducted because of steroids. As rule 5 picks go, he would be far better than average. The rest of the bunch were either inconsequential or they have yet to prove they’re keepers (especially Wells). Santander is consistently inconsistent. Possibly his performance is dependent on the phases of the moon. Who knows!

  3. OrangeDNA

    December 8, 2021 at 9:23 am

    One of the many reasons I love the Orioles so much is the sense of family the organization has had over the decades. Winning and losing comes and goes, but this lifetime commitment to the team has rewards greater than winning or losing. I remember Tim Kurkjian on ESPN a day or so after Mike Flanagan’s death, and he said the Flanny was literally his favorite ballplayer of all time. His stories, his personality, etc. It was a really nice tribute from Tim. I’ve always liked Tim and his work… but to hear that pretty much put him in the pantheon for me.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 8, 2021 at 9:56 am

      This is a very nice comment.

    • Icterus fan

      December 8, 2021 at 10:39 am

      I always liked Tim Kurkjian. His appearances on radio and TV interviews were always fresh and genuine. He was obviously knowledgeable, but aside from that, he seemed to be actually funny – even self deprecating. I never felt like he was one to regurgitate safe, pre digested talking points. I’ve really enjoyed listening to his commentaries over the years.

  4. Bman

    December 8, 2021 at 9:43 am

    How many spots do the Os have open on their AAA roster? Do they pick first? Any baseball activity during the lockdown is something.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 9, 2021 at 3:27 pm

      They had two open spots.

  5. Jammer Daniels 5

    December 8, 2021 at 9:49 am

    I would love for the MLB network to hire Melanie Newman!!!

  6. OrangeDNA

    December 8, 2021 at 9:53 am

    Question Rich. I’m pretty sure nothing is set in stone yet, but will the Orioles go back to physical tickets in 2022?

    I hope so. I’m not a fan of purely electronic myself. Even the lanyards are gone for Ravens season ticket holders… much easier to deal with IMO.

    • 66OsFan

      December 8, 2021 at 11:53 am

      I would bet that season ticket holders will probably not have an option for physical tickets. Unless you’re buying at the box office, they will most likely stay electronic. It’s another cost savings measure, and most teams are switching to e-tickets. I know from my last baseball trip through Phoenix, Anahiem and San Diego I was actually charged a fee to have the physical tickets mailed to me. The good thing is, with the Ballpark app you have the tickets and it’s easier for the consessions and merchandise discount for season ticket holders. I was not a fan at first, but as the season progressed it became easier, and transfering the tickets to friends was much easier than having to get them the physical tickets, especially at the last minute.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 8, 2021 at 1:15 pm

      66os, this was a question meant for the mailbag.

  7. Buzz1979

    December 8, 2021 at 11:39 am

    This Nottingham must be one heck of a defensive catcher, he strikes out more than Davis!

    • JerseyO

      December 8, 2021 at 2:34 pm

      It’s the only stat that stands out.

  8. Orial

    December 8, 2021 at 12:52 pm

    Good for Kurkjian. Seems to be a true gentleman. One thing that MLB has had and hopefully always will have is it’s quality of sportswriters that cover it. Legendary names. How someone can say Kurkjian hates Baltimore is both baffling and ridiculous. Rich where does this “self pity” amongst Baltimore sports fans even come from? This “woe is me” is getting a little old. Congrats to Melanie Newman. I’m just glad my fellow posters have so far refrained from putting her down for uncalled for but predictable reasons. So far.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      December 8, 2021 at 1:55 pm

      So what exactly are you talking about when you say “uncalled for but predictable reasons” when referring to Newman?

      C’mon Al … putting that out there without any clue as to what you’re talking about, is kind of …. weak .. for a lack of better words.

  9. CalsPals

    December 8, 2021 at 5:03 pm

    Congrats to Tim Kurkjian, he has a genuine love of the game & cracks me up when he gets to laughing…go O’s…

  10. Icterus fan

    December 8, 2021 at 9:01 pm

    Hi Rich,
    What is involved in winning a Ballpark Digest award, and what are the metrics to establish the recipient?
    I was also wondering who votes on that – other broadcasters, fans?

  11. OrioleMaze

    December 9, 2021 at 1:47 pm

    Rich, personally if Buck gets the job with the Mets I’m going to sideline the O’s and become a Mets fan. I wonder how many other feel the same?

    • CalsPals

      December 9, 2021 at 3:19 pm

      I’d definitely follow them closer…go O’s…

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