The injury bug is wreaking havoc on the Baltimore Orioles.
In a matter of about three hours, the Baltimore Orioles found themselves down two valuable outfielders and scrambling to find a replacement. This team can’t get out of the state of Texas fast enough.
After dropping yet another series and falling to 19-43 on the season, the Orioles have placed outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. on the Injured List. This move comes just hours after fellow outfielder DJ Stewart was added to the Injured List with a sprained ankle. Smith was injured Thursday night after slamming into the outfield wall at Globe Life Park.
While Smith is treated for a possible concussion and has x-rays on his shoulder, Brandon Hyde and the Baltimore Orioles will look to find a replacement for one of the top hitters on the 2019 roster. Smith has quickly endeared himself to the fans in Birdland, hitting .251 with 11 home runs, 11 doubles, and a .762 OPS.
A roster move will be announced before the Orioles take the field in Houston to begin a three-game set against the Astros, but let’s have a little fun and make a prediction as to who gets the call-up.
Stevie Wilkerson was recalled to replace DJ Stewart before Thursday’s games. That decision was an easy one, seeing as Wilkerson can play both outfield and infield positions and helps ease the burden while Jonathan Villar misses a few games with a sore thumb. A replacement for Dwight Smith Jr isn’t as easy to pick.
The Baltimore Orioles have options, they just aren’t the options we want to see right now.
The first option is clearly Joey Rickard. I can hear your groans already and I get it. Rickard is hitting .289 with three home runs in AAA Norfolk. He’s been a major sparkplug for the Norfolk offense since his demotion and has added eight walks in ten games. Rickard is also already on the 40-man roster and brings plenty of major league experience. Looking through the lens of Brandon Hyde (as best as I can), that major league experience may be the deciding factor.
Cedric Mullins is also on the 40-man, but his bat has been ice cold. Mullins is hitting .214 on the season and .150 over his last ten games. Unless Keon Broxton goes down tonight (which is very likely at this rate), I doubt Mullins gets the call.
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That leaves one other Norfolk outfielder currently on the 40-man, Anthony Santander. Rickard has had opportunity after opportunity and has yet to capitalize. Mullins has also been given a shot this season. Meanwhile, Santander has continued to sit and stew in Norfolk.
Santander has been hot and cold this year, going through stretches where he seemingly can’t be stopped, followed by rough patches of tough at-bats and high strikeout numbers. On the season, Santander is slashing .263/.316/.421 with five home runs and 15 doubles. The former Rule 5 pick is in the same boat has many players on the current roster; it’s time to show up or ship out. With many top outfield prospects expecting to compete for a major league job in the near future, Santander will need to quickly prove his worth.
He’s hitting just .189 over his last ten games, which makes you wonder if the Orioles will want to bring up a young player while he is struggling.
Editor’s Note: Since publishing, Anthony Santander was the selection!
Yes, Austin Hays is also on the 40-man roster and while he’s been hot, the 23-year-old has appeared in just 23 games since returning from injury. Sorry, the return of Hays is a long way off.
If I had a vote, I’d cast my ballot for Mason Williams. Signed as a minor league free agent in late-March, Williams is hitting .287 with 14 extra-base hits (eight home runs) and a .357 OBP. He’s made highlight-reel plays on defense and has been extremely hot over the past two weeks. Five of his last ten games have been multi-hit performances (.368 average, two home runs, 5/4 K/BB ratio). Unfortunately, Williams isn’t on the 40-man and his call-up would require an additional roster move.
We will find out in a few hours, but I’m putting my money on Joey Rickard. I hope you’re ready.