Baltimore Orioles: Calling Up DJ Stewart Now Is The Right Move
Baltimore Orioles outfield prospect DJ Stewart doesn’t have much left to prove in the minor leagues. It’s time to bring him up.
The 2019 Baltimore Orioles are a team full of potential trade pieces and placeholder players, with outfielder Joey Rickard being a prime example of one of those placeholder players. With names like Yusniel Diaz, Ryan McKenna, Cedric Mullins, Austin Hays, and even a guy like Robert Neustrom, all continuing their development in the minor leagues, the Orioles will, ideally, have a solid pool of outfield candidates to choose from over the next few years.
One name who has risen above the rest, in terms of major league readiness, is Norfolk Tides outfielder, DJ Stewart. It’s time the Baltimore Orioles call him up and say goodbye to Joey Rickard.
Rickard has been a solid big league player since coming to Baltimore from the Tampa Bay Rays organization in the 2015 Rule 5 draft. He has had trouble keeping an everyday major league role and even started the 2018 season with AAA Norfolk, but as far as fourth-outfield options go, there are much worse options out there than Joey Rickard.
After he seemed to have turned a corner in spring training, hitting .333 and slugging .510 in 18 Grapefruit League games, he is currently in the midst of his worst hitting season since he has been in the majors, posting a .211 batting average, .301 OBP, and .668 OPS. His strikeout rate is climbing (career-high 24.4%), he’s below league-average offensively, and early defensive ratings have him graded as a league-average defender.
His early season struggles and outfield prospect D.J. Stewart’s AAA resurgence are the why the Birds should send Rickard to the minors and bring up Stewart.
Stewart, the No. 15 prospect in the organization according to MLB Pipeline, is currently hitting .293 with a whopping .408 on-base percentage and is also slugging .577. He is tied for fourth in the International league with 31 RBIs in just 36 games and has hit safely in eight of his last ten games, giving him a .471 average during that span.
In four of those ten games, Stewart recorded three hits. He’s also added five home runs in this recent hot stretch of games.
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I was of the opinion that Stewart should have started the season in Baltimore, given the stretch he had during his late-season call-up last season when he put up an .890 OPS with three homers and 10 RBIs in 17 games, but I understand the organization starting him in Norfolk this year due to his less than impressive .235 average there in 2018. New general manager Mike Elias has preached patience with prospects, wanting them to “graduate” before earning a call-up and Elias hasn’t let us down yet with his organizational moves (hey, Dwight Smith Jr.)
However, he has shown he can hit in Norfolk this season and there is nothing else for him to show in AAA. Joey Rickard has not shown much improvement throughout his MLB career and it is time for Mike Elias and the organization to give a promising prospect time to develop his skills in the majors.
What do you think, O’s fans? Are you ready to see a change in the outfield? Or are you fine with having Stewart continue in AAA a little longer?