“Liftoff” Continues in Baltimore

Andrew Politi headlined the Baltimore Orioles’ Rule 5 draft selections

Free Agency

The Baltimore Orioles’ offseason continued this week as the O’s announced the signing of INF Josh Lester to a minor league deal. Lester, who can play 1B, 3B, and SS, is coming off a season spent primarily with the Toledo Mud Hens, Detroit’s AAA affiliate. Lester was drafted in the 13th round of the 2015 draft by the Tigers and has stayed in their system ever since. 

A left-handed hitter, Lester posted a slash line of .246/.311/.479 while hitting 29 home runs this past season with Toledo. The 28 year old spent two games in the Majors where he was unable to register a hit in five plate appearances. Lester will play for Norfolk, and is unlikely to feature heavily for the Orioles, barring injury.  

The Rule 5 Draft

Although general manager Mike Elias was initially unsure whether the O’s would be active during the Rule 5 Draft, the Orioles ended up taking four players. 

With their first selection, the Orioles took Andrew Politi, who split time between the Red Sox AAA and AA affiliates last season. The 26 year old Politi posted an ERA of 2.34 in 69.1 innings last year. Politi will compete for a spot in the Orioles’ bullpen this upcoming year with fierce competition expected from fringe players like Yennier Canó and Logan Gillaspie.

The O’s took right-hander Alfred Vega after Politi during the AAA portion of the Rule 5 Draft. Vega signed with the Yankees as an international free agent back in 2017, and has bounced between Low-A and Rookie Level for the entirety of his career thus far. In 2022, Vega appeared in seven games and recorded an impressive 1.15 ERA. Vega is only 21, but has a fastball that tops out at 98 MPH, making him an interesting prospect to keep an eye on.

The O’s also took LHP Trey McGough and C Randy Florentino. The Orioles claimed McGough from the Pirates who drafted him in the 24th round of the 2019 Draft. The left-handed hurler managed to make it to AAA last year, where he appeared in eight games. Although McGough is likely to fly under the radar, the 24 year old projects well as a moldable lefty for an organization lacking in left-handed pitching depth. 

Catcher Randy Florentino, from the Texas Rangers, was the Orioles’ last selection of the night. The Dominican backstop oscillated between the lower levels of the Minors at the beginning of his career before settling at the High-A level in 2022. During his time with the Hickory Crawdads last year, Florentino slashed .242/.332/.353.

Baltimore also lost three players during the draft. With their first selection, the Tampa Bay Rays took RHP Héctor Pérez. Later in the draft the Mets claimed INF Jonathan Araúz, while the Phillies selected C Cody Roberts. None of these losses are projected to be particularly impactful to the Orioles.

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Tatiana Bird

I love talking, writing, and arguing about the O's. Follow me on twitter @TheNotoriousTGB

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