With the winter months settling in, baseball teams are in the middle of their off-season plans. One of those is the annual Rule 5 draft, which allows teams to select players from other big league organization’s minor league systems and give them a full season on their major league roster, for a dirt cheap price of $50,000.
Teams just passed the deadline to set their 40-man rosters and determine which players they wanted to protect from the Rule 5 draft, and the Seattle Mariners have chosen to protect their Top Catcher prospect, John Hicks (Goochland/UVA). In 2014, Hicks started the year with an invite to big league spring training. He would open the season at Double-A, and finish the year at Triple-A. For the season he hit .290 with a .351 On base Percentage and a slugging percentage of .403. He will more than likely return to Triple-A Tacoma, but appears set to make his major league debut in ’15, should one of the Mariners catchers get hurt.
In Baltimore, the Orioles are competitive and relevant again. After no playoff baseball in Charm City since 1997, Orioles fans have seen postseason ball in 2 of the last 3 years. In 2012, they beat Texas in the Wild Card Gams before losing to the Yankees in 5 games in the ALDS. In 2014, they went a step further, winning their first division title since ’97, sweeping 3 Cy Young Award Winning Detroit Tigers pitchers in the ALDS, before getting swept by the upstart Royals in the ALCS. The Orioles are very competitive and should remain so for a while, but any crack in the Orioles rotation should pave the way for RHP Tyler Wilson (Midlothian/UVA), whom the Orioles have added to their 40-man roster. Wilson started 2014 at Double-A Bowie, and finished the season at Norfolk. He went a combined 14-8 with a 3.67 ERA and 157 Strikeouts in 166 innings pitched, nearly a strikeout per inning. Wilson is likely to return to Norfolk to open 2015, but could get a look in Baltimore sometime during the season.
John Hicks. Tyler Wilson. Promising futures in the big leagues.