Baltimore Orioles: A Deeper Dive Into The Infield Non-Roster Invitees

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - SEPTEMBER 22: Signs are shown during the Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 22, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - SEPTEMBER 22: Signs are shown during the Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 22, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /
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BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – SEPTEMBER 22: A general view during the Baltimore Orioles and Seattle Mariners game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 22, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

Will any of these middle infielders step up for the Baltimore Orioles?

Bannon and McCoy are the bigger names among this group, both considered Top 30 prospects by most major outlets, but the Orioles have three other middle infielders joining the group in Sarasota. Will any of them step up?

IF/OF Dilson Herrera- 25 years old/International Free Agent, Colombia

When the Orioles inked Herrera to a minor league deal earlier this offseason, I assumed he was approaching 30 now and there wasn’t going to be much to this signing, but the 9-year veteran brings a bit of intrigue with him.

Originally signing with the Pirates back in 2011, Herrera made his major league debut in 2014 with the New York Mets. Since then, Herrera has spent the majority of his time in Triple-A with the Mets and Reds, with a handful of major league games sprinkled in.

Bringing an average glove and defensive abilities with him, Herrera has some pop in his bat and has been able to find success in reaching base over the course of his career. He spent all of last season in AAA with the Mets, hitting 24 home runs with a .248/.330/.501 slash and a 107 wRC+.

The 24 home runs were certainly helped by the Triple-A baseball, but double-digit home run totals have been common for Herrera throughout the minor leagues and his career OBP of .354 is a pleasant sight.

The Orioles need depth up the middle and someone to fill the utility role in 2020 and Herrera certainly has a chance to win the job when his competition is Pat Valaika, Richard Urena, and Stevie Wilkerson. Last season, Herrera saw playing time at first, second, third, and both corner outfield spots. He hasn’t played shortstop since 2014, but the experience is there.

UT Jose Rondon- 25 years old/International Free Agent, Venezuela

You probably don’t remember, but Jose Rondon did appear in the major leagues last year, seeing one at-bat with the Baltimore Orioles in 2019. While I remember watching him with the Norfolk Tides last season, I certainly don’t recall that one at-bat. Maybe he earns a few more in 2020?

Rondon is a solid defender and an athletic middle infielder, but the bat won’t lead to much success at the major league level. He played in 55 games for the White Sox last season, hitting .197 with a .265 OBP and just six extra-base hits. He was worth -1.0 fWAR before being designated for assignment and claimed by the Orioles.

Rondon appeared in 21 games for the Tides, posting a .313 OBP and a 12% walk rate, but hit just .219 and had a wRC+ of 73. Unfortunately, the glove isn’t good enough to make up for his bat and Rondon has a tough hill to climb if he wants to stand out among the group. As a minor league depth piece, you can do worse.

2B/SS/OF Malquin Canelo- 25 years old/International Free Agent, Dominican Republic

A 2015 scouting report from Baseball America had this to say about a then Philadelphia Phillies prospect named Malquin Canelo.

More from Birds Watcher

"Canelo’s defense alone could have bought him a ticket to the majors, but now that his bat has upgraded, his future could be brighter. He still needs to improve pitch recognition and mute his willingness to chase outside the zone, but all signs were positive in 2015, when he hit .281/.331/.396 with 40 extra-base hits and 17 stolen bases in 126 games. In addition to his solid glove work, Canelo also has a plus throwing arm and is an above-average runner."

Since that 2015 season, Canelo has seen a rise in his batting average and on-base percentage as he himself rose through Phillies farm system. After hitting nine home runs with a .251 average and .305 OBP in 2018 at the AA level, his offensive numbers took a step back in 2019 with a promotion to Triple-A.

Canelo posted a wRC+ of just 71 last season, struck out a career-high 29% of the time, and had an ISO of .087. His stolen base total also dropped from 24 to eight.

Like Rondon, Canelo is likely nothing more than minor league depth, but his defense should be fun to watch in spring training and in Norfolk, where he should see the majority of his playing time. With a Norfolk Tides rotation expected to be full of Top 30 pitching prospects, having a glove like Canelo’s behind the mound will go a long way.

Next. Reactions To Baltimore Orioles Top Prospect List On Fangraphs. dark

Tomorrow, we take a deeper look at the non-roster outfielders invited to Baltimore Orioles spring training.