Baltimore Orioles: A Deeper Dive Into The Infield Non-Roster Invitees
By Nick Stevens
With spring training games set to begin in two weeks, we’re taking a deeper look at the non-roster invitees joining the Baltimore Orioles major league camp.
Happy Saturday, Birdland. Exactly two weeks from today, the Baltimore Orioles will play their first Grapefruit League game to kick off their spring training slate, a 1 pm contest against the Atlanta Braves.
The Orioles will have a lot of new faces in camp this spring, including a number of Top 30 prospects. Before spring games commence, we’re going to take a deeper dive into the non-roster invitees appearing in big league camp in Sarasota to help fans familiarize themselves with many of the players we’re likely to see in spring.
First up, a look at the infield non-roster invitees in camp, a group highlighted by part of the return in the Manny Machado deal, 3B/2B Rylan Bannon.
3B/2B Rylan Bannon- 23 years old/8th-round pick (2017), Xavier
Bannon is certainly someone who you begin to like more and more as you continue to watch him play. You’re also likely to see him listed as a third baseman, where he spent the majority of his time last season, but Bannon becomes slightly more attractive as a major league option at second base. Although, with the Orioles in need of capable bodies at both positions, we will continue to see him split his time around the infield.
Moving forward, his defensive versatility will be key. By the end of 2020, we could see Bannon in the major leagues, taking over utility man duties in Baltimore, a role he likely ends up assuming in the big leagues.
Bannon can hit, both for power and average, find the gaps, and get on base. Putting aside his 2018 numbers in Bowie after switching organizations and making the jump from High-A to Double-A, Bannon has posted impressive numbers last season in AA and AAA ball.
In 110 games with the Baysox, Bannon posted a 120 wRC+, a .345 OBP, and recorded 34 extra-base hits, including eight home runs. He also recorded a walk rate north of 10% for a third-straight year, thanks in large part due to his ability to work deep counts.
He ended the season hot in Triple-A, hitting three home runs and 10 doubles in 20 games to go along with his .317 average, .344 OBP, and 120 wRC+. While his walk rate dropped significantly in his brief stint, his 15.6% strikeout rate was impressive.
Bannon won’t make the Opening Day roster, but he’s someone to watch closely in Triple-A this year as he prepares for full-time major league duties in the near future.
SS/2B Mason McCoy- 24 years old/6th-round pick (2016), Iowa
When the Orioles drafted McCoy back in 2016, I quickly fell in love with the pick for two reasons- he has done nothing but produce base hits at every level he’s played at and he entered professional baseball with a chip on his shoulder and a desire to prove a lot of people wrong, like every organization who passed on him in the 2015 draft.
McCoy hasn’t disappointed yet and he enters 2020 with an official invite to spring training and a chance at seeing playing time in the big leagues this year.
It took him just 27 games in High-A to prove he was ready for Double-A ball, hitting .379 with a 169 wRC+ in Frederick. His bat didn’t slow down after joining the Baysox, hitting .329 with a 25/15 K/BB ratio in 37 games before the All-Star break. Unfortunately, the bat cooled off in the second half of the season, hitting .229 with a .291 OBP in 68 games.
McCoy won’t put the ball over the fence, hitting nine home runs in his minor league career, but he is a .282 hitter in 309 minor league games with 51 doubles and 20 triples. He also adds a little bit on the basepaths, swiping 13 bags in each of the last two seasons (caught just four times).
His glove, however, is major league ready. With so many questions at second and third base at the major league level, watch for guys like Bannon and McCoy to take advantage of their opportunities this season and try to crack the major league roster sooner rather than later.