The Orioles added a pair of right-handed pitchers in the major-league phase of the Rule 5 Draft who have a knack for pounding the strike zone.
The organization added some depth in the minor-league phase of the draft with two more pitchers and a catcher who strengthen the foundation of the farm system.
The Orioles grabbed Mac Sceroler, the nephew of former Orioles pitcher Ben McDonald, from the Cincinnati Reds with the fifth overall pick and then added Tyler Wells from the Minnesota Twins with the 17th selection.
“For Sceroler, we were attracted to the four-pitch mix,” Orioles pro scouting director Mike Snyder told reporters in a Zoom call. “It’s a good fastball. Flashes of power and he leverages the curveball downhill. Throws a slider for strikes and for chases, and he can get a lot of awkward swings on a plus splitter. So he brings a lot to the table.
“Tyler Wells is an interesting case. There are some similarities to Sceroler, in that we’re drawn to the full assortment of weapons he has in his bag, both for lefties and righties.”
Sceroler, a fifth-round pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, went 5-4 with a 3.69 ERA, 127 strikeouts, 29 walks and a 1.11 WHIP in 117 innings for High-A Daytona in 2019.
The 6-foot-8 Wells, a 15th-round pick in 2016, underwent Tommy John surgery in May 2019, so he was shut down this past season. He went 10-6 with a 2.49 ERA, 121 strikeouts, 31 walks and a 0.95 WHIP in 119.1 innings between Single-A and Double-A in 2018.
The Orioles decided to make these moves despite the ongoing challenges with properly scouting players amid the pandemic. Snyder credited general manager Mike Elias for the strides the organization has made in developing tools to assess talent.
“Evaluating players in this environment, it’s been a constant battle,” Snyder said. “That applies to Rule 5, free agency, all our trades over the past year. We do feel we’re probably a little bit better situated for this type of player evaluation compared to other MLB clubs, just given how efficient we feel we are operating off of video and data.”
Sceroler, 25, and Wells, 26, will have to stick with the major-league team for all of 2021; otherwise, they must be waived, and if they clear, offered back to their original clubs.
In the minor-league phase, the Orioles grabbed the following players, none of whom have to fill any requirements to remain with the organization:
• Right-handed pitcher Rickey Ramirez from the Minnesota Twins. Ramirez, 24, went 2-2 with a 3.80 ERA, 50 strikeouts, 18 walks and 1.34 WHIP in 42.2 innings between two Single-A levels and the GCL in 2019. He’ll throw out of the bullpen in the Orioles’ organization.
• Catcher Chris Hudgins from the Kansas City Royals. Hudgins, 24, slashed .261/.327/.457 in 120 minor-league games from 2017-2019. The Orioles like his defensive skills.
• Right-handed pitcher Ignacio Feliz from the San Diego Padres. Feliz, 21, went 2-4 with a 4.40 ERA, 55 strikeouts, 27 walks and 1.47 WHIP in 57.3 innings at Short-A in 2019. The Orioles hope he can eventually compete for a spot in the major-league rotation.
“I think we were happy to get three guys,” Orioles director of minor league operations Kent Qualls said. “It was a deeper-than-normal minor-league phase of the draft. We had a lot of names and we picked three. A lot of names we were on were taken ahead of us and our second pick. All three, we’ll have a chance to develop them, and all three are under control for three years.
However, the Orioles did lose a pair of pitchers in the draft.
The Arizona Diamondbacks grabbed right-handed reliever Zach Pop, who was part of the Manny Machado trade to the Dodgers and underwent Tommy John surgery in 2019 and rehabbed in 2020. The Chicago Cubs selected right-handed starter Gray Fenter, who went 8-2 with a 1.81 ERA and 123 strikeouts in 94.1 innings with Low-A Delmarva in 2019.
Photo Credit: Aldrin Capulong