By Contributing Writer: Chuck Boemmel Jr.
It is no secret that under Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette the Baltimore Orioles are active in the Rule 5 Draft. The team has made a selection in the Rule 5 Draft in each year of Duquette’s tenure in the Orioles’ front office. 2016 was no exception as the Orioles selected two outfielders: Aneury Tavarez from the Boston Red Sox and Anthony Santander from the Cleveland Indians.
Rule-5 players must remain on the 25-man roster and have at least 90 days of service time or be returned to their original club. Obviously it is difficult for a Rule 5 player to crack the Major League roster but on the flip side they would not have been selected unless they had the potential to do just that.
I would like to take a look at how Spring Training has gone so far for Santander and possibly shed some light on his possible future with the Orioles.
To date, Santander has appeared in 14 games with a slash line of .250/ .313/ .464 in 28 at bats with two home runs and seven RBI. He has scored three runs while striking out 12 times and walking just three times.
Santander, who has never played above Class-A High, has a career slash line of .271/ .343/ .449 with 219 RBI and 43 home runs in 347 games over five minor league seasons.
His bat is what caught the team’s eye but it's Santander’s glove that the team needs to see. Multiple factors have kept the 22 year old switch-hitter from playing defense so far this spring; Santander was recovering from right shoulder surgery when selected and has experienced soreness in his right elbow. A recent MRI arthrogram revealed inflammation in that right elbow which has undergone previous surgery to remove bone chips.
At this point in time the deck seems to be stacked against Santander making the Orioles roster. The team will not carry just a “bat” on the roster and with the presence of Joey Rickard and Craig Gentry especially in the outfield mix it is simply a numbers game. The numbers are just not in Santander’s favor. As creative as Dan Duquette can be in roster formation, I see no way that Santander can be hidden on the DL this season. He needs those 90 days of service time and I just don’t see that happening. It is possible however for the Orioles to make a deal with the Indians to keep Santander in their system.
Time is running out in Spring Training for this 6’2” 190 lb. raw power hitter to make the big club.