Baltimore Orioles: What Happened To The Opening Day Lineup?
The current Baltimore Orioles active roster looks a bit different from Opening Day. What happened to those who are no longer with the big league squad?
We’re down to the final two days of the 2019 regular season and I can’t help but begin to feel empty, sad, and a bit lost. I’m also feeling extremely exhausted, but that’s due to having a newborn baby boy at home who will surely give me plenty to do this offseason. As for baseball, we still have what is shaping up to be another year of exciting playoff matchups, but for the Baltimore Orioles, Sunday afternoon will be the final time the Birds take the field until spring training 2020.
As Mike Elias evaluates the roster he was given, mixes in new pieces to try and find low-cost help, and decides who sticks around and who goes, the active roster looks a bit different from what it did back on March 28th when the Orioles traveled to New York to take on the Yankees.
Whatever happened to those who are no longer with the organization? Spoiler- The Orioles aren’t missing much.
Catcher Jesus Sucre– The combination of Sucre and Pedro Severino was a lot of fun to watch at the beginning of the season. Both were lauded for their defensive abilities as the Orioles went with defense over the slightly higher potential for offense by having Chance Sisco or Austin Wynns serve as second backstop.
It initially appeared as if Sucre would not get an opportunity to earn a job in Baltimore after visa issues delayed his presence at spring training, but it didn’t take long for the veteran to settle in. Sucre played in 20 games with the Orioles, hitting .210 with no home runs, three RBI, and two doubles before being designated for assignment. He could have walked away, but stuck it out for 50 games in Norfolk, hitting .283 with a .333 OBP, no home runs, 19 RBI, and 15 doubles before leaving the team.
He’s still technically on the Norfolk Tides Restricted List and did not join another organization after playing in his final game on July 31st.
Utility Player Drew Jackson– Drew Jackson, a Rule 5 pick last winter, provided a bit of excitement in spring training and was expected to have a role with the Orioles as a super-utility guy who could play every position on the field. Unfortunately, his stint with Baltimore didn’t last long, just three games in fact. He went 0-3 with a walk and a strikeout before he was designated for assignment and returned to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Jackson spent the rest of the year in Triple-A with the Tulsa Drillers where he slashed .209/.300/.319 with 17 extra-base hits, just nine stolen bases, and 92 strikeouts in 83 games. He missed a large chunk of games due to injury, but at 26 years of age, the window to compete at the major league level is much smaller for the former Stanford Cardinal.
You may have forgotten Jackson even appeared on the Opening Day roster for the Orioles, and that’s ok. When you try and name the 2019 roster a year from now, he’s going to be the one that stumps you.
Outfielder Joey Rickard– Rickard only played in parts of four seasons with the Orioles, but it always felt as if he was a 10-year veteran. The 28-year-old appeared in 42 games this season, hitting a meager .203 in 118 at-bats. He was designated for assignment in mid-June and was quickly claimed by the San Francisco Giants, who were attempting to build an outfield of castoffs, including Rickard, Alex Dickerson (San Diego Padres), Kevin Pillar (Toronto Blue Jays), and Mike Yastrzemski (Orioles).
He wasn’t able to earn consistent playing time in San Francisco, hitting .372 with 23 extra-base hits in the Pacific Coast League, but managing just 46 at-bats at the major league level, posting a .283 average and one home run.
Outfielder Cedric Mullins– Mullins is still in the organization and someone we just highlighted at the conclusion of the minor league season. His struggles in the majors were well documented (.094 average in 22 games) and continued with a demotion to Triple-A (.205/.272/.306 in 66 games). It wasn’t until late in the season with Double-A Bowie that Mullins finally found his mojo.
Overall, Mullins hit .271 and reached base in 35% of his plate appearances with Bowie. He walked nearly as many times (22) as he struck out (31) and swiped 20 bags in 51 games. Mullins was one of the few bright spots for the offense during Bowie’s Eastern League Championship Series and the organization has a plan of action in place for the offseason to help Mullins as he battles for a roster spot in 2020. The competition is thick, but his speed and defensive abilities will keep him in the conversation. But will he fix his issues at the plate this offseason?
Pitcher Andrew Cashner– This year’s Opening Day starter, Andrew Cashner was having a career year with the Orioles through the first half of the season, working a 9-3 record with a 3.83 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 17 starts. He was easily one of the biggest surprises in the American League to start the year.
Thanks to his success, the Orioles were able to move him before the trade deadline in a move which many fans questioned for no reason. The 33-year-old wasn’t going to return next season and had no track record of success, so the return of two teenage lottery tickets was all Mike Elias was able to secure in a trade with the division-rival Boston Red Sox.
After his move to Boston, Cashner went 2-5 with a 5.00 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, and allowed opponents to hit .270 against him. He was a wreck as a starter and eventually moved to the bullpen. Cashner was supposed to shore up an injured rotation and help get Boston to the playoffs, instead, both he and the Red Sox crumbled.
Pitcher Nate Karns– The Baltimore Orioles tried, it didn’t work, and they moved on. In his first action since 2017, Karns worked just 5.1 innings with the Orioles, giving up no earned runs on seven hits and three walks, but injuries put an end to his comeback attempt. He tried to work his way back with a number of rehab outings in the minors, but was hit hard and often and struggled to hit 87-88 mph on the radar gun. He has finally designated for assignment in late-July, sent to Triple-A Norfolk, and was released a week later.
You can’t fault ownership for at least giving Karns a shot, unfortunately, the injuries may be just too much to overcome.
Pitcher Mike Wright– Spring training hero Mike Wright had a few people convinced maybe this was finally the year, but it turned out to be just another year of the same Mike Wright. He pitched just 13 innings in Baltimore, giving up 14 runs on 20 hits, including five home runs. In late-April, Wright was DFA’d and then traded to Seattle for minor league infielder Ryne Ogren. He saw just 16 games of action in the majors with Seattle, putting up a 6.75 ERA and .333 average against.
Wright spent most of his time as a starter in Triple-A where he gave up four home runs in 58 innings. That’s pretty astounding considering he was in the Pacific Coast League, a league where Richie Martin could put up 25 home runs across a full season. But don’t fall into the trap again. He will be 30 next season and may catch on somewhere, but will he ever see significant time in the majors again?
Pitcher Pedro Araujo– Such a short name, so many syllables. It’s always fun to hear opposing announcers on MiLB TV try and pronounce Araujo’s name, but it wasn’t always fun to watch him pitch. He was DFA’d before meeting his required service time after being selected in last year’s Rule 5 draft, but remained in the organization and spent the year in Triple-A and Double-A.
Opponents hit .372 against him in AAA as he worked a 12.54 ERA and 2.25 WHIP in 9.1 innings. His success came in Double-A with the Baysox. Making 24 appearances out of the pen, Araujo went 1-3 with a 3.63 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and a .183 average against. I wouldn’t be surprised if the organization gave him another opportunity in Triple-A, but he has to find a way to limit baserunners if he wants to stick around for a longer period of time.
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Pitcher Jimmy Yacabonis– I had such high hopes for Jimmy Yacabonis and jumped on the hype train again after he shaved his face and cut his hair (new look, same Jimmy), but 2019 was not a success for the hard-throwing righty. Yacabonis worked a 6.80 ERA and .307 average against in the big leagues and wasn’t much better in Triple-A. Once the most dominant bullpen arm in the International League back in 2017, Yacabonis posted a 4.50 ERA and 1.71 WHIP in 24 Triple-A innings.
The Orioles DFA’d him in mid-August, but he returned to the organization after passing through waivers. He’s been a VIP frequent passenger on the Baltimore-Norfolk shuttle for three years and has worked as a starter, opener, middle relief, setup man, closer, and pretty much any other pitching role you can imagine, often switching up from month to month. I always thought stability would help Yacabonis, but he may also need a change of scenery, as well.
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