In the major-league phase of the Rule 5 Draft, the Baltimore Orioles selected Andrew Politi, a right-handed pitcher out of the Boston Red Sox system. With this pick, the Orioles chose a reliever coming off of a strong season who could find a role in their bullpen.  

Originally a 15th-round draft selection by the Red Sox out of Seaton Hall in 2018, Politi pitched primarily in relief in 2022. Over 69 1/3 innings pitched between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Worcester, he compiled a 2.34 ERA and 0.97 WHIP, while striking out 83 batters against 22 walks. The bulk of that time was spent at Worcester, where Politi was particularly effective, racking up a 28.3 K%, 44.1 GB%, 2.41 ERA, and 3.47 FIP in 56 innings.

Politi relies primarily on his fastball, slider, and curveball. Baseball America describes his fastball as one that “sits 93-95 mph and touches 97 mph at peak with cut,” while noting that his curveball has “good depth and [a] two-plane break.”

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A relief role is the most likely path to make for Politi to make the Orioles’ Opening Day roster, although it could be challenging path. The club carries a strong bullpen at this point and, theoretically, could see one or two of its starters from a year ago slide into a relief role next season.

If he does make the roster, Politi will likely profile as a middle-innings option who can generate groundballs and possibly give the team more than three outs in an appearance. The role could be similar to that of Joey Krehbiel’s last season, but perhaps Politi could slide into high-leverage situations if he proves worthy as the season progresses. Politi also gives them another option in the event they decide to move a reliever via trade or see an injury or two during camp.

The Red Sox did try to work Politi as a starter at Portland in 2021, but he ultimately struggled, surrendering 77 hits in 75 innings while posting a 13.8 HR/FB rate, 6.36 ERA, and 4.50 FIP. He moved to Portland’s bullpen towards the end of the season, continuing in that role in the Arizona Fall League. For the here and now, and likely the long-term, the Orioles will need to figure out how to develop Politi’s repertoire to make him a successful reliever in the majors.

Politi was selected during the major-league phase of the Rule 5 Draft, meaning that the Orioles will need to carry him on their roster for a full season or offer him back to the Red Sox. The Orioles passed on their second selection in the major-league phase of the Rule 5 Draft and did not lose a player. Their 40-man roster currently stands at 39 players.

Minor-League Phase

The minor-league phase of the draft saw movement both in and out of the organization, with the Orioles selecting and losing three players. Unlike in the major-league phase, players are not required to make the 26-man roster to stick with their new organizations. Players who could be chosen in the minor-league phase are those who are Rule 5 eligible and were not protected on their club’s Triple-A roster.

Joining the Orioles

Alfred Vega, RHP—Selected from the New York Yankees: The youngest player in this mix, the soon-to-be 22-year-old has thrown just 139 1/3 innings since originally signing with the Yankees in 2017. He did not fully get a chance to build off his promising 2021 campaign, as he spent time on the injured list last summer before throwing 15 2/3 innings in the Florida Complex League. Vega made the most of his time in the FCL (22:4 K:BB ratio, 1.15 ERA, 1.97 FIP) and should be part of Low-A Delmarva’s pitching staff next season.

Randy Florentino, Catcher—Selected from the Texas Rangers: With High-A Hickory last season, Florentino hit .242/.331/.353 across 180 plate appearances with four home runs and a walk rate just under 12%. At 22, Florentino has not been able to recapture the offensive success he had as a teenager but should nonetheless be a solid depth option in the Orioles system. High-A Aberdeen or Double-A Bowie appears to be his most likely Opening Day assignment.

Trey McGough, LHP—Selected from the Pittsburgh Pirates: McGough was ranked as the 59th-best prospect in a deep Pirates farm system by FanGraphs coming into the season, and seemed like a possible breakout candidate after a solid 2021. However, he threw just 17 2/3 innings at Triple-A Indianapolis before going on the IL in May and later undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Departing the Orioles

Hector Perez, RHP—Selected by the Tampa Bay Rays: After signing with the Orioles as a minor-league free agent in May, Perez logged 33 1/3 innings of relief work between three levels, posting a 48:19 K:BB ratio to go with a 3.51 ERA. While he topped out at Double-A Bowie with the Orioles, he has prior major-league experience (one game with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2020) and reached Triple-A in the Cincinnati Reds’ system in 2021.

Jonathan Arauz, Infielder—Selected by the New York Mets: Arauz saw major-league time with the Orioles after being selected off waivers from the Red Sox in June. While with the Orioles, he went 5-for-28 in nine games before suffering a thumb injury. He was designated for assignment in September, then remained in the organization after being outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk.

Cody Roberts, Catcher—Selected by the Philadelphia Phillies: A solid defensive backstop, Roberts has provided useful depth to the Orioles farm system in recent years—including 2022, which saw him spend time at both Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk. He will likely serve as upper-minors depth for the Phillies.

Zach Spedden
Zach Spedden

Orioles Analyst

A graduate of the University of Massachusetts, and Loyola University; Spedden has previously spent time in the Washington Nationals organization as a videographer for the Hagerstown Suns. As a blogger, Spedden is an Editor / Writer for the Suns fan club. Additionally, he contributes to The Nats Blog as a prospect writer, and Ballpark Digest. For BSL, Spedden covers the Orioles Minor Leagues. Co-Host of The Verge: