Yesterday’s Rule 5 Draft was successful for the Orioles. Their selection of SS Richie Martin was universally lauded and he could potentially be their starting shortstop in 2019. They later traded for infielder Drew Jackson. In the minor league portion of the draft, the Orioles selected Taylor Grover, whose fastball touches 100 mph. His slider has been described as “wipe out.” There are things to like about these three players.
The Orioles left C Martin Cervenka and LHP Luis Gonzalez off of their 40 man roster, allowing them to be selected today. They like those two players, making that a difficult decision. Luckily, no Orioles were taken in the major league portion of the Rule 5 Draft.
Where the Orioles did see players removed from their organization was in the minor league portion of the draft. They lost Jeffeson Medina, Randolph Gassaway, Corban Joseph, and Wilson Garcia to other teams. Continue reading if you’re curious about what exactly the O’s lost in each of these players. The loss of the first three most likely won’t be felt by the organization. However, Garcia showed some promise in 2018 and I’m disappointed that he is gone.
Jeffeson Medina, RHP, selected by Texas
Medina has left the Orioles without even appearing in a game as a member of the organization. His agreement to a minor league contract on November 21 was overshadowed by the big news of the day: the re-signing of Jace Peterson. And the hiring of Sig Mejdal.
Medina, a native of Venezuela, spent the 2018 season at the high-A level of the Seattle organization. Having not reached the AA level by the age of 24 speaks to how slowly he has developed. Over seven minor league seasons, his ERA is a respectable 3.96. But his WHIP is a high 1.43 and he has struck out only 6.6 batters per game. The strikeout numbers aren’t good enough to make us overlook the rate at which he allows baserunners. He was never considered a top prospect in the Mariners system.
Medina’s performance in the Venezuelan Winter League may have caught the Rangers’ eye. In 19.1 innings pitched to this point, he has registered 1.40 ERA. While that appears to be progress, he hasn’t fully mastered the single A level. It is certainly possible that Medina figures things out, but this isn’t a big loss for the Orioles.
Randolph Gassaway, OF, selected by Pittsburgh
While Medina never quite registered on top prospect lists, Randolph Gassaway has. The 2013 16th round selection was ranked #19 in the Orioles’ system by MLB.com’s Prospect Watch as recently as September 2017. That probably speaks more about the state of Baltimore’s farm system in 2017 than it does about Gassaway. (Randy DeCleene wrote a prospect season in review post for Gassaway at that time.) It may have been his size and raw talent that caught scouts’ eyes along the way; he is 6’4” and weighs 210 pounds.
Despite often being considered one of the organization’s top 30 prospects, the numbers were never quite there. His career minor league OPS is an underwhelming .694. He never hit for power (20 career homers) and doesn’t bring an element of speed (12 career steals).
2018 was Gassaway’s second consecutive season at class A Frederick. A brief promotion to Bowie in 2017 did not end well (five hits in the 32 at bats) and he was demoted. While he has raw skill and physical attributes that have attracted scouts, there are many outfielders who are ahead of Gassaway on the minor league depth chart. He was an expendable player.
Corban Joseph, IF, selected by Oakland
Corban Joseph was the only player the Orioles lost who has major league experience. The story about him playing with his brother was a nice story in the midst of an awful season. Joseph has put together some fine minor league numbers (.285/.357/.426 in his career) and hit 17 home runs for Bowie this year.
But at 30 years old, Joseph simply is not a prospect. While his minor league numbers have been nice, they have not translated to the majors in two very brief stints. In 26 MLB at bats, he has collected five hits.
Joseph is by all accounts a great guy and teammate, like his brother. Here’s hoping he finds some sustained success in Oakland. As Dan Connolly noted on Twitter, this is the first time since June 2008 that the Orioles have not had a Joseph in the organization.
WIlson Garcia, 1B, selected by Cleveland
Of the four players lost by the Orioles yesterday, I was most dismayed by Garcia. He was acquired by the O’s in May of last season from the Phillies in exchange for cash. Garcia was serving as a catcher at the time and threw out 40% of potential base thieves in his minor league career. Baltimore moved him from behind the plate and he served as Frederick’s primary first baseman in 2018.
While Garcia’s acquisition went under the radar and he never showed up on top prospect lists, he seemed to do something productive every time I wrote up a minor league recap this summer. He slashed .295/.328/.521 with Frederick while hitting 23 homers and driving in 70. Those numbers catch my eye.
I’m not claiming that Garcia will become the next Paul Goldschmidt. He is 24 years old and has yet to play at the AA level. But a look at his career numbers show that he has consistently improved his offensive game, climaxing with his nice 2018. I’m disappointed that the Orioles couldn’t find a spot for him on their AA roster to see if that progression continues.