Photo: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
It seems every season a player immerges from relative obscurity to have a major impact, and this season G.M. Dan Duquette has again accumulated plenty of major-league level talent to battle for at-bats during the season.
The Orioles are expecting a lot out of outfielders Alejandro De Aza and Steven Pearce, and there are plenty of reasons why both should have successful seasons. However, there is no guarantee they will contribute the way the Orioles are hoping.
Steve Pearce came out of nowhere last season posting career-highs in almost every offensive category after finally securing consistent at-bats. However, to that point in his career he was mostly a fringe bench-player, struggling to maintain a job at the major-league level.
De Aza, on the other hand, has had success in the past, yet last season struggled at the plate for most of the season. He even lost his starting spot with the White Sox before his impressive September with the Orioles.
However, if either would struggle to begin the season, the players behind them could force themselves into the lineup sooner rather than later. One such player could be projected fourth-outfielder, David Lough. Lough started out last season looking to garner most of the playing time in left-field. However, he struggled mightily to start the season and quickly lost his spot in the lineup.
The Orioles saw more of what they expected out of Lough later in the season when he hit .333 in August and .357 in September, but by that time the outfield was already over-crowded and he struggled to get consistent at-bats. However, if he carry that hot bat into April of this season he could have the projected starters looking over their shoulders.
Another name to watch is newly acquired Travis Snider. The once highly-touted prospect struggled to hit consistently through the first few years of his career, and subsequently spent most years bouncing between the majors and minors. However, when seeing consistent time last season he hit a respectable .264 with 13 homers. Those numbers could spike in the lefty-friendly Camden Yards.
Rumors have circulated this week that the Orioles are likely to sign former San Diego Padre Everth Cabrera. It’s obvious that the Orioles already have a talented young star in Jonathan Schoop occupying second-base, and he’ll probably given every chance to secure the everyday job during spring training.
However, if Schoop doesn’t progress on his up-and-down rookie season than Cabrera could be a notable option for more at-bats. Two seasons ago he hit.283 and in the past three seasons he’s swiped 99 bases, so there’s no doubt he has talent. Schoop will most likely be the everyday player come opening day, but he wouldn’t be the first player to take a step back in their sophomore season.
Dan Duquette always does a great job quietly acquiring stockpiles of major-league talent, and this season is no different. It’s hard to predict who could immerge from the shadows once the season starts, but the Orioles always seem to have plenty of candidates.