Baltimore Orioles: Taking Stock Of Who Is Left In Camp

TAMPA, FL - MARCH 12: Mike Wright Jr. #43 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches before the third inning during the spring training game against the New York Yankees at Steinbrenner Field on March 12, 2019 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - MARCH 12: Mike Wright Jr. #43 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches before the third inning during the spring training game against the New York Yankees at Steinbrenner Field on March 12, 2019 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Spring training is coming to a close and the Opening Day roster is becoming a bit more clear for the Baltimore Orioles.

As camp cuts have rolled in throughout spring training, I found myself looking at my pre-season roster prediction much like I look at my NCAA tournament bracket at about 5:00 pm on Thursday every single year. With all of the action that has taken place lately, it’s a good time to hit the reset button and take stock of who is left in camp for the Baltimore Orioles.

Names like DJ Stewart, Austin Hays, and Anthony Santander won’t be on the Opening Day roster. Top prospects Ryan Mountcastle and Yusniel Diaz are also beginning the year in the minors (as expected), leaving very few names to be really excited about as Brandon Hyde and his staff prepare a roster to take to New York on March 28th.

Let’s take a trip around the diamond and see who is here, who isn’t, and who won’t be, even though I already know these roster guesses will wind up being as good as the previous ones.

Baltimore Orioles infield situation.

Catchers (Original prediction: Chance Sisco and Austin Wynns)

Few players on the roster had a spring like Chance Sisco. Currently hitting .321 with a .486 OBP and four home runs, Sisco has not only earned his way onto the active roster, but has also earned the right to be named the starting catcher. Austin Wynns remains on the shelf with a stubborn oblique injury, likely meaning a trip to the injured list. Carlos Perez, Andrew Susac, and Jesus Sucre remain in camp. If Wynns can’t go initially, I’ll place my bet on Sucre getting the nod, for defensive purposes.

Infielders (Original prediction: Chris Davis, Jonathan Villar, Richie Martin, Renato Nunez, Alcides Escobar, Rio Ruiz)

Until Chris Davis becomes an immediate roadblock, he is on the roster. Once Ryan Mountcastle has done all he can with the Norfolk Tides, Davis better hope he’s turned things around. Based on spring training looks, the odds of Davis figuring things out are next to nothing. The original predictions just might stick here, other than Escobar.

All of the above-mentioned names, plus Drew Jackson, Hanser Alberto, Jack Reinheimer, and Jace Peterson remain in camp. Picking who will make up the infield is a crap shoot, but Martin has had a fantastic spring and Ruiz has quietly done his job.

Jackson is being groomed for a super-utility role and has surpassed expectations in the process. His ability to man a corner outfield spot only increases his value for the Orioles and his athleticism won’t hurt the team on the basepaths. He is getting the nod over Escobar in this updated prediction. Escobar’s arm has looked less than impressive at times during spring and it’s hard to find any potential value he may bring to the team. If anyone can offer anything up on Escobar, I would genuinely love to hear why he deserves a shot.

Outfielders (Original prediction: Cedric Mullins, Trey Mancini, DJ Stewart, Joey Rickard, Mark Trumbo-DH)

After three rounds of cuts, Mullins, Mancini, Rickard, Dwight Smith Jr. and Eric Young Jr. are still patrolling the outfield for the Baltimore Orioles. Rickard’s strong spring, along with the re-assignment of Stewart, Hays, and Santander, appears to be enough to give him a spot on the Opening Day roster.

Smith Jr has a minor league option remaining, meaning he can continue to work in AAA Norfolk (which is shaping up to be a tremendous roster). This leaves Eric Young the man on the outside looking in. His speed and ability to play multiple outfield spots are attractive, but a healthy Mark Trumbo will nix any need for an additional outfielder.

Are you ready for an outfield of Mancini, Mullins, and Rickard? You better be.

To recap the newest Opening Day roster prediction:

Baltimore Orioles pitching situation.

(Original prediction: Dylan Bundy, Alex Cobb, Andrew Cashner, David Hess, Yefry Ramirez)

The only thing we know for certain is that Alex Cobb will be starting on Opening Day for the Baltimore Orioles. Just as every single writer and website has said all spring training, Dylan Bundy and Andrew Cashner are locks. It was assumed that Nate Karns would be in the rotation, but his longest outing came on Monday, lasting 1.1 innings. He’s healthy and the fastball velocity is there, he just needs innings which will come out of the bullpen.

This leaves David Hess (despite his disaster of an outing last week) as the likely fourth starter and spring training ace Mike Wright as the fifth starter. Wright is out of options and will work initially out of the pen, until the Orioles need a fifth option, but it’s clear that he will be given every opportunity possible to stick with this team. To be fair, he has earned it.

Ramirez will head back to the Norfolk rotation, for now. He will get his fair share of starts at some point in 2019, as will Josh Rogers and John Means. Rogers and Means are both in camp as of Tuesday and having excellent springs. Means has racked up 11 strikeouts in eight innings, while Rogers has given up just six earned runs in 14 innings of work.

Gabriel Ynoa was reassigned to minor league camp over the weekend after an effective spring training. Acquired from the New York Mets, Ynoa flashed potential in 2017 with the Orioles, but missed essentially all of 2018 with injuries. He gave up one earned run on four hits while striking out eight and walking none in eight spring training innings, showing off exactly why I’m not writing him off, yet.

There has been talk of using an opener and making sure starters don’t have to work through a lineup three times in a game, so picking a traditional five-man rotation here may be pointless. However, as I have mentioned before, with arms like Hess, Ynoa, Ramirez, Karns, Castro, Wright, Rogers, Means, etc, Baltimore is set up to employ a unique pitching strategy and evaluate a large group of starters over the course of the season.

But if we are picking a traditional five-man rotation- Cobb, Cashner, Bundy, Wright, Hess, with Wright working out of the pen until a fifth starter is needed.

Bullpen (Original prediction: Mychal Givens, Richard Bleier, Pedro Araujo, Miguel Castro, Tanner Scott, Paul Fry, Nate Karns)

Remaining bullpen arms in camp include Givens, Bleier, Araujo, Karns, Castro, Scott, Fry, Jimmy Yacabonis, Evan Phillips, and Josh Lucas.

Bleier has made four outings in his return from an injury that derailed his strong 2018 campaign, showing he is healthy and ready to roll again in 2019. Givens has had just one good outing, a clean 9th inning in a 14-1 game, but the coaching staff isn’t worried (at least publically) and is presumed to be the closer heading into the season.

I’m sticking with the original prediction of bullpen arms here. Castro has issued just one free pass in more than six innings, Karns will continue to be stretched out from the pen, and after a solid rookie season and 8.1 scoreless spring innings, it’s hard to imagine Fry not earning a roster spot.

Once Araujo reaches his 17 days of service time, fulfilling his Rule 5 requirements, Jimmy Yacabonis can replace him on the big league roster, providing another long-relief option for the Orioles.

Final guess of the Opening Day pitching staff:

Dylan Bundy

Andrew Cashner

Alex Cobb

David Hess

Mike Wright

Richard Bleier

Pedro Araujo

Miguel Castro

Paul Fry

Tanner Scott

Mychal Givens

Nate Karns

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Trying to think of all the different ways Hyde can settle on an initial 25-man roster is mind-numbing. How many relievers? Is Drew Jackson good enough to provide depth in the infield and outfield? If so, how many outfielders? There’s also the fact that many of the players we are looking at won’t be on the roster in two years.

If you counted up the updated list, you should have gotten 24 names instead of 25. I’m leaving one spot open for a waiver claim, although guys like Ruiz, Fry, and possibly even Scott could give way to an additional waiver claim, if Elias likes what he sees on the market. As multiple reports have pointed out, the Orioles are highly likely to make moves as teams set their roster and designate players for assignment.

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Do you have any bold roster predictions? Let us know!