The Orioles have made their first round of cuts this spring training with 13 players being sent down to the minors or being re-assigned to minor league camp. Pitchers Brandon Erbe, Chorye Spoon, Troy Patton, and Pedro Viola were optioned to Triple A. Pitcher Luis Lebron along with shortstop Pedro Florimon were optioned to Double A. In addition, the following players will either be re-assigned to or remain in minor league camp: Mitch Atkins, Paul Rivero, Tyler Henson, Adam Donachie, Caleb Joseph, Nick Bierbrodt, and Mark Worrell.
Nothing shocking with these cuts. I would say Troy Patton would be most surprising in the sense that he was cut this early and he has some major league experience. Before his off field issues and the signing of Clay Rapada and Mark Hendrickson I would of considered Patton a candidate for one of the last bullpen spots. There are also some solid young players on the list fans will want to keep an eye on this season. Erbe, Spoon and Lebron all have tremendous stuff and potential but have been hampered by injuries. Keep an eye on them, as they could be in the majors sooner rather than later if they can stay healthy.
There are a couple players I wanted to highlight so far this spring training. First, righty Rich VandenHurk has now given up 7 runs (4 earned) in 6 spring innings so far. He is out of options and is battling for that final spot in the bullpen. He has shown some issues with command and needs to step it up quickly in order to have any shot at making the team opening day. Going along with that final bullpen spot, lefty Clay Rapada has really shined so far this spring and has to be considered the favorite now for that final spot in the bullpen. In five spring innings, Rapada has allowed just one run with no walks and two hits. Maybe more importantly he has been getting both righties and lefties out. Rapada is looking like a great second option out of the bullpen as a left handed specialist. The only thing working against him is that he really doesn’t have a history of being able to work multiple innings.
One hitter to take notice of is Joe Mahoney. He has been having a nice spring and after a season where he was named the Orioles minor league player of the year, fans should start to take notice of the 6’6 first baseman. We all know Derrek Lee is just a one year stop gap at first base, and while Josh Bell and Brandon Snyder have gotten most of the attention as potential replacements I wouldn’t discount Mahoney. He has never really been considered a “prospect”, but there are plenty of good major league players who never had that top “prospect” status. The guy clearly has power potential and has hit in the minors. Keep an eye on Mahoney this year along with Bell and Snyder. It could make for an interesting battle to see who takes over the first base job next season….ya know, if the Orioles don’t sign Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder.