Dan Duquette's streak of keeping every Rule 5 pick has come to an end just shy of its third consecutive year. The Orioles announced on Monday that Rule 5 pick Michael Almanzar has been activated from the 60-day disabled list and designated for assignment. The dream has died.
Almanzar, a first baseman/third baseman, was picked in the Rule 5 draft from the Red Sox organization. It didn't look like there was going to be a roster spot for him at the end of spring training, so they placed him on the disabled list with a knee injury. He may have actually had a knee injury. The official diagnosis was left patellar tendinitis.
Picking him up was worth the flier at the time, before the Orioles knew that players like Steve Pearce and Delmon Young were going to emerge as contributors for the team in the way that they have. With those places being taken up on the roster, there's not much room to also carry a corner infielder with a career minor league batting line of .249/.301/.373.
What did the Orioles see in him in the first place? We may never know. It may have something to do with the fact that, after toiling in the low minors for a few years, Almanzar's power developed. He had an .812 OPS in High-A in 2012 and a .760 OPS in Double-A in 2013. Each of these represented his first year at the level, in his age 21 and age 22 seasons, respectively.
They probably had some dreams of some marginal potential that could be used on the Norfolk-Baltimore shuttle next season, if they carried him all this year. That's basically what has become of former Rule 5 picks Ryan Flaherty and T.J. McFarland. Alas, Almanzar will not be joining that august company, but I'm sure Duquette will try again next year.
If no team claims Almanzar and the Red Sox don't want him back, he may yet remain in the Orioles organization but off the 40-man roster.