Baltimore Orioles: A Case For Alvarez and Rickard
By C.R. Defuoco
Will the Free-Agent fumble allow for potential rookie success?
The Baltimore Orioles will be without OF Dexter Fowler and once again there’s some Free-Agent drama in the air. I’m not that surprised being the amount of information that’s “leaked” before any deals are finalized. I don’t blame the organizations or the players, in reality information should never be released before its 100% official. When this happens there always stands a chance someone will appear foolish.
So let’s move on. Personally, I don’t believe the Orioles need to spend anymore money anyway, instead they should be looking in house, especially being there are two great options at their disposal. So let’s save some money for Manny Machado’s extension and look at the options for RF that makes sense, for example, Dariel Alvarez and Joey Rickard.
Both Alvarez and Rickard worked very hard last year and have earned their chance and if the need for a leadoff hitter is a concern, Joey Rickard fits the bill perfectly. Platooning the two young players in RF would be the perfect way to see the power Alvarez has been developing and to keep the speedy Rule 5 pick on board for the entire 2016 season.
This will be the 27-yr old Alvarez’s fourth season in the Orioles organization, after spending six years playing in Cuba, and he has looked impressive every year. In those three years he has averaged .295 batting with a .457 Slg and .781 OPS. He’s a super utility guy that can play anywhere in the outfield, first base and can even pitch.
On August 28th last year Dariel was finally called up and made his debut. Although we only saw him hit .241 with his 29 plate appearances, we were lucky enough to watch him hit his first major league Homer on Sept 11th against the KC Royals. I’m sure that small taste Alvarez had last year has done nothing but make him hungry to prove he has more and deserves to be a big leaguer.
I briefly mentioned early the Orioles need for a true lead-off hitter. Like I said, Joey Rickard fits the bill perfectly. Baltimore can find all the tools they need in this 24-yr old ex-Devil Ray. In 2015 Rickard raced through Tampa’s system hitting for a .321 Avg, .447 Slg and .874 OPS. Even more exciting is his ability to steal bases and that speed translates into his defense similar to the way it did with David Lough.
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Rickard stole 23 bags in 2015 between the three MiLB levels he sped through and that’s definitely a skill that translates well into the big leagues. In addition the Rays named him Base-Runner of the Year between all three clubs. It was a surprise he was even available for the Rule 5 draft as it was thought the Rays were going to place him on the 40-Man roster. This transaction could make Rickard’s the most underrated of the off-season.
Joey Rickard may not be able to hit for power right now but he does hit for average and get on base with the threat to steal. Those are the exact characteristics you look for in a lead off man. Couple that with his great defense, I don’t see why Baltimore shouldn’t platoon him with Alvarez to complete the recipe we need to find success in RF with the combination of speed plus power.
If Baltimore does decide to go in this direction, which only Spring Training may decide, they do have a risk free fail safe. There’s always the trade deadline Aug 1st. Allow the guys to go out there and fight for a starting job and if it doesn’t work out than spend the Fowler money via a trade. The lack of an experienced Right Fielder will not be the deciding factor over whether or not the Orioles make it to the post season.
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I would imagine I’m not the only fan that would like to see some of the youth we have available actually get a shot. Who knows, maybe we’ll have ourselves the first ROY Baltimore has had since Gregg Olson in 1989. This season has the potential to be a huge year and an exciting young player could only add fuel to that fire.