A number of young Baltimore Orioles will make 2020 much more exciting than 2019.
- Will Austin Hays be in center field on Opening Day?
If he isn’t, who is? Hays still has rookie eligibility in 2020, so start the Rookie of the Year campaign now. Hays was impressive in the outfield, just as he was all season down in the minor leagues, and impressed enough at the plate in September for the Orioles to keep him at home instead of sending him to the Arizona Fall League. Go ahead and slot him in the Opening Day lineup.
- Does Ryan Mountcastle make the Opening Day roster?
Should he? Yes. Will he? No. Defensive questions aside, Mountcastle is a legitimate prospect with a big bat and the Orioles will make sure they get that extra year of control by keeping him down in the minors for a few weeks.
- Which minor league pitcher yet to see the majors will make the most starts next season for the Orioles?
Keegan Akin is the easy answer, seeing as he’s major league ready, for the most part. But I’m going to say Dean Kremer. Kremer led the minor leagues in strikeouts in 2018 and struck out 122 in 113 innings between Double-A and Triple-A this season. After a rough debut in AAA (0-2, 8.84 ERA, .366 average against in four starts), Kremer is dominating in the Arizona Fall League and was recently named an AFL Fall Star.
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In 10 innings, Kremer has allowed just two runs and two walks while striking out 12. Yusniel Diaz was the centerpiece of the Manny Machado trade, but Kremer could end up providing the Orioles with the most production.
- Should Hunter Harvey remain in the bullpen next year?
Absolutely. The heater is electric, the breaking ball can be lethal, and the hair is epic. We all know about his extensive injury history and he struggled as a starter to begin 2019 with the Bowie Baysox, so trying to put him back in the rotation doesn’t make a lot of sense.
The Orioles bullpen was a disaster last season, but Hunter Harvey is a dominant piece to build around. Hopefully, Dillon Tate shows an improvement next year and the second-half performances of Miguel Castro and Tanner Scott were the beginning of something and not another instance of false hope. If so, the bullpen will be a lot more fun to watch in 2020.
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