Orioles add Drake, sign Antonelli

The Orioles added right-handed pitching prospect Oliver Drake to their 40-man roster prior to Friday’s deadline, thereby protecting him from next month’s Rule 5 Draft.

The move leaves the Orioles current 40-man roster at 39 and according to baseball’s regulations they can’t add another player from within the organization. However, they can add anyone who is acquired from another team via trade, or a free agent signing. The final spot will be Matt Antonelli, a former Padres’ first-round pick, who has agreed to a big league deal pending a physical in Baltimore early next week.

Antonelli will compete for the team’s third base position and will add infield depth for an organization devoid of any true positional prospects in the upper levels of its system. Antonelli spent last year with Triple-A Syracuse, the Washington Nationals’ affiliate, hitting .297 with eight homers and 30 RBIs in 86 games. The 26-year-old also posted a .393 on-base percentage in Triple-A last season.

Drake, a United States Naval Academy product, went 11-8 with a 3.32 ERA at three different levels in 2011. The 24-year-old Drake went 8-3 with a 2.14 ERA in Class A and finished the season at Double-A Bowie, going 3-5 with a 5.20 ERA in his final 12 starts. In protecting just Drake, the Orioles left a few notables exposed to the Rule 5 Draft, including 2011 Minor League Pitcher of the Year Tim Bascom.

According to Major League Baseball’s regulations, any player who signed his first professional contract before age 19 and has been in an organization for five years, or who signed after age 19 and has been in the organization for four years, is eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft if left unprotected.

The Rule 5 Draft takes place next month on the final day of baseball’s annual Winter Meetings and any player taken must remain on his new team’s active roster or disabled list all season, or be offered back to his original club at a discounted price.


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