They have completed the Jim Johnson trade. Originally it was for Jemile Weeks and a PTBNL (Player To Be Named Later), and that player has finally been named. Minor league catcher David Freitas has been traded to the Orioles to complete the transaction. He is a high OBP guy with questionable arm as his career numbers are .276 .377 .424 and a 26 CS%. He’s only had 110 AB at the AAA level. Even though the O’s are looking for a back up catcher, I believe he will be slated to AA with a call up to AAA if he performs well. Depth move.
The O’s also participated in the Rule 5 draft and I am curious about their selection. They picked a light hitting 1B/3B in Michael Almanzar from Boston in the major league portion. He is only 22, but trying to stash him on the back end of the roster to carry him only to put him in the minors a year from now seems a little silly to me and a waste of a roster spot. However, Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter know talent far better than I do, so maybe the scouting reports show something that numbers do not? He has not played above AA and has shown a bit of progression with power save for a horrendous third full season, his HR totals went from 4, 10, 12, to 16.
In the minor league portion, The O’s have selected Lefty swinging OF’er Julio Borbon who also has displayed speed in his career. He’ll be 28 in February and last spent some time between the Rangers and Cubs organizations and later wound up in the minors. His major league totals in 2013 were not impressive with a .202 .284 .279 slash line. He did swipe 7 bases in 8 tries, and then when he went to AAA his numbers were a bit better with a .260 .360 .329 line and also stole 5 bases in 6 attempts. I don’t expect him to be anything other than a reserve OF at best and expect him to be waiting in the wings in AAA once he proves healthy.
Here is a follow up of what Orioles President of Baseball Operations; Dan Duquette had to say about his rule 5 pickups:
On Micheal Almanzar: “Michael’s dad, Carlos, has played in the big leagues. Michael has had two good years and he showed good progress at Double-A this year with the capability to hit, drive in a run, play a couple of positions and steal a base. So that tells you he has all the tools and capability to be a big league ballplayer. You can see, year over year, his progress with the bat where he has matured and is a little more selective. We’re glad to have him and take a look at him. He plays multiple positions and just turned 23. He has a good bat – 16 home runs in the Eastern League shows significant power, particularly at his age. He signed young and got a healthy bonus. He’s made good progress with all areas of his game the last two years. It is a challenge for him to go to the big leagues and perform, but he performed all year in Double-A with the bat and we’ll see how me matures between now and spring training.”
Jim Callis had this to say about the same player: “He’s got big raw power with plus arm strength,” Callis said. “Kind of slow to develop, but he’s had back-to-back two solid years. The two strikes against him are swings and misses a lot, so he’s not as polished as a hitter and not real athletic. So third base, even though that has been his primary position, is probably a stretch at the major league level, he’s probably more of a first baseman. He’s interesting. You don’t see many position players taken in the Rule 5. I think there were just two of the nine today. He’s had some success in Double-A, he’s got two big tools, so why not take a chance for $50,000? He was a highly touted international signing. The Red Sox have a deep system and they had a full 40-man roster. I think the Red Sox have one of the top five farm systems in baseball, so they probably had as big a 40-man roster crunch as anybody.”
Duquette on Julio Borbon: “Borbon, believe it or not, is a left-handed hitting outfielder that fills a need we were looking for to complement our big league team. He’s had some good major league experience with good contributions in the majors, getting on base, playing defense and also with his legs. We like both these players. They grew up around baseball, they have tools. One is left-handed hitter, one a right-handed hitter but we think both of them may be able to help our ballclub in ’14. He is still pretty young and can play all outfield positions, including center, we had interest in him [Borbon] in the past and we considered claiming him for our major league club this year. We discussed that internally and we almost did that. We have some history with him in Texas. We know the player and we’ll take a look at him. I’m kind of excited we added two players today that have skills to help our major league team.”
Jim Callis’ take on Borbon: “He had a bonus out of the draft. He was a supplemental first-round pick of the Rangers that has bounced around a bit. When he was drafted, he was a guy that can play center field and can run. The idea was he might be a guy that can hit for a high average, get on base, steal few bases and play a solid center field. He just hasn’t been consistent with the bat. They don’t have to keep him on the roster, so he’s an Oriole now flat out. Maybe the ship has sailed for him on being a big league regular on a contending club, but as guy that can run and is versatile, he could be a good fourth outfielder if he gets the bat going a little bit more. I like that pick.”
Believe it or not folks, Julio Borbon IS a left handed batter and also plays the outfield. Sometimes Duquette’s comments come off as very comical in my opinion. As far as getting on base, that is actually NOT a tool that Borbon has in his box as he’s quite horrible at it as evidenced by his poor OBP in the majors, posting a .309 mark in his only full season. In the minors he’s shown that ability, but only because his batting averages were in the .300’s and was also helped by the PCL which is a minor league known for favoring hitters. He does not draw a lot of walks and strikes out quite a bit. Alamanzar is mainly a 1B in the field as his experience at 3B has been terrible and scouts say his mobility is limited though he has a good arm.