O's beef up roster with two picks in Rule 5 Draft
Almanzar taken in Major League phase; Borbon picked in Minor League phase
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Seeking to add to their roster, the Orioles selected Michael Almanzar and Julio Borbon in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft.
Borbon, who was taken in the Minor League portion of the Draft from the Cubs' Double-A roster, has Major League experience, and the Orioles had interest in claiming him off waivers last season.
"Borbon, believe it or not, is a left-handed-hitting outfielder that fills a need that we were looking for in our big league team," executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said. "He's had some good contribution in the Major Leagues, getting on base with his bat, playing defense and also with his legs. So we like these players. They grew up around baseball. They have tools. One is a left-handed hitter, one is a right-handed hitter. We think they can both help our team."
Borbon is a former first-round Draft pick who is a .272/.318/.347 lifetime hitter in 288 big league games. He played in one game for the Rangers and 72 for the Cubs last season, batting .200/.282/.276. And has dropped off the past few years. The Orioles, who could possibly invite the 27-year-old to Major League camp, will try to help Borbon capture his old form.
"Sometimes just a change of scenery, new environment, new atmosphere, sometimes guys flourish when they kind of get that second opportunity," director of Minor League operations Kent Qualls said. "So we are excited to bring him into Spring Training and let our staff work with him and see what we got."
Almanzar, who has also played first and third base, is from the Red Sox's organization and spent last season with Double-A Portland. He played in 131 games and posted a .268/.328/.432 line, including 16 homers and 81 RBIs.
The 23-year-old was signed by Boston as an international free agent in 2008 and hails from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Almanzar, a right-handed hitter, was one of nine selections in the Major League portion of Thursday's Rule 5 Draft and will cost the Orioles $50,000 and a 40-man roster spot.
"I'm kind of excited that we added two players today who have the capability and skill to help our Major League team," Duquette said.
"[Almanzar] has had a lot of experience having signed young. He got a healthy bonus when he signed, and he has made good progress in all areas of his game the last two years, so we will see how he does. It's a challenge for him to go to the big leagues and perform, but he performed all year in Double-A with the bat."
The Orioles must keep Almanzar on their Major League roster in order to retain him. If not, they can either work out a trade with the Red Sox or offer him back to Boston.
The Orioles have been able to keep their last two Rule 5 Draft picks (Ryan Flaherty and T.J. McFarland) on their Major League roster.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.