Prior to the midnight deadline to add players to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 draft, the Orioles placed three new additions onto their roster. Catcher Michael Ohlman, left-handed pitcher Tim Berry, and knuckle-balling righty Eddie Gamboa were added to the roster.
Players who were 18 or under when they were drafted are eligible to be drafted in the Rule 5 draft after four years, meaning that most high schoolers drafted in 2009 are now Rule 5 eligible for the first time. Players who were 19 or older when they were drafted are eligible after three years, meaning that college players from 2010 or earlier are eligible.
Ohlman and Berry were both drafted out of high school in 2009. They are being added to protect them in their first year as eligible players. Gamboa has been eligible before, but was unremarkable as a pitching prospect. However, with the O's trying to turn him into a knuckle-ball pitcher, they probably want to protect him from the Rule 5 draft to keep another team from benefiting from their experiment before they have a chance to reap some rewards from trying something unusual.
The Orioles selected Ohlman in the 11th round of 2009. Various circumstances, including injuries and a 50-game suspension for a "drug of abuse", have kept him from having a full season until this year, when he put together a .313/.410/.524 in 100 games for High-A Frederick in his first year at the level. He only caught 46 games, but the O's seem to still like his potential as a catcher. Fans can hope his bat stays live if he moves up to Double-A Bowie in 2014.
Ohlman was the Topps Carolina League Player of the Year, which is an award that I cannot honestly tell you whether it has any distinction whatsoever, but the Orioles wanted you to know about it because they put it in the press release. This next part does not come from the press release. The winner for that same award in 2012 was Red Sox not-as-good-as-Manny Machado prospect Xander Bogaerts, so if nothing else, I guess Ohlman is in good company.
Berry was a 50th round flier in 2009. The O's drafted him even knowing that he would need Tommy John surgery, so he was a year behind most prospects taken that year. After a couple of underwhelming stints at Delmarva, the O's had Berry at Frederick all season, where he had a 3.85 ERA in 27 starts. He's shown steady improvement through the minor leagues, and he could find himself headed for Bowie to ply his stuff next season as well. Both Berry and Ohlman were on the Arizona Fall League championship team, the Surprise Saguaros.
Gamboa was already 23 when drafted in the 21st round in 2008. He appeared to be destined for a life as minor league filler, marching his way up to Norfolk in 2012, where he was unremarkable. The O's then decided to try to experiment with Gamboa as a knuckle-ball pitcher. Early results were not promising, as he had a 4.43 ERA in time split between Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk this season. It seems the O's aren't willing to give up on him yet.
You may not have mental pictures of any of these players. (I don't.) Michael Ohlman has a sidekick from National Treasure vibe going on. Tim Berry has a better photo than Caleb Joseph. I don't have anything clever to say about Eddie Gamboa knuckling under.
These moves put the Orioles at 36 players on the 40-man roster. The Rule 5 draft will take place on December 12, the last day of baseball's winter meetings.