Rule 5 Pick Pedro Araujo Turns Heads In Camp

Righthander Pedro Araujo tends to get lost in the crowd of Rule 5 pitchers in big league camp. He didn’t arrive to the same fanfare despite being the second of the Orioles’ three selections in December.

However, he’s forcing everyone to reconsider that stance.

The 24-year-old Araujo retired the first six batters he faced in Grapefruit League games, striking out three of them. A couple of lazy fly balls were added to the mix.

“We saw him very good in the Arizona Fall League and (scout) Dave Engle recommended him,” executive vice president Dan Duquette said. “He shows three good pitches with good control. He has also gotten very good results over his pro career and is a bullpen option.”

The Orioles selected Nestor Cortes and Jose Mesa Jr. from the Yankees’ system in the same Rule 5 draft. The latter is the son of the former Orioles pitcher, which gave him instant name recognition. Araujo, who signed with the Cubs out of the Dominican Republic in 2011, seemed to fade into the background, but not according to the Orioles.

“Everyone seems to want to talk about Mesa because of his father and about Cortes because of his gaudy numbers, but Araujo’s got a nice look to him,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He reminds me a lot of (Pedro) Strop.”

Araujo spent virtually all of last season at high Class A Myrtle Beach, where he made 44 appearances and recorded a 1.81 ERA with 83 strikeouts in 64.2 innings. For his career, he has averaged 10.4 strikeouts and 2.8 walks per nine innings while working predominantly as a reliever.

Araujo made only one outing at Double-A Tennessee last year, and some have speculated that the Cubs hoped to discourage teams from selecting him in the Rule 5 by keeping him in the Carolina League. However, the exposure in the AFL, where scouts annually flock, made it impossible to hide him.

“I was reading Dave Engle’s report on him before I came over today,” Showalter said. “(He has pitched) as advertised. Good split-changeup.”

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