The Baltimore Orioles have a minor league system loaded with prospects, yet very few appeared on the 60-man Player Pool for the 2020 Summer Training session.
Instead of loading the Pool with prospects like many other top teams did, the Baltimore Orioles decided to take a different approach.
And, it might actually be a wise one that pays off in the long run.
It looks like the Orioles front office is planning for the future, rather than putting all their hopes on the 2020 season. In an interview with Mike Elias, Jon Meoli of The Baltimore Sun quoted the GM as saying:
“A young prospect, a young minor leaguer who you bring in more for player development purposes cannot be removed from that list unless you release them, and certainly we don’t want to get in a situation where we would consider something like that, or if their presence might otherwise cause us to release or waive someone that we didn’t want to otherwise.”
For fans who are wondering why the 60-man list only had 44 active players, as well as Trey Mancini who will spend the season on the IL, the answer is simple. The Orioles want to protect their assets.
Elias also said;
“So, we’re being very cautious about fleshing out that list. We don’t need to do it right now. Obviously, we’re going to get 60 and use our full 60. But we want to wait.”
Eventually, fans will get to see their favorite top prospects in Orioles uniforms. But, with the expectation that the team will finish last in the AL East, what’s the point of using them if they aren’t needed yet?
One name that most likely will appear on the roster is Adley Rutschman. Even though the O’s already have four catchers in the pool, all teams will need a three-man taxi squad that includes at least one catcher. That could be Rutschman, unless he gets the platoon spot that could belong to Austin Wynns or Chance Sisco. Bryan Holaday has had significant time in the MLB, so he could part of the platoon competition, too.
In the same Zoom interview, Elias told reporters that he’s expecting some Orioles to eventually test positive for COVID-19 during the 60-game season. It’s just something all teams are expecting. Currently, no Orioles players or employees have tested positive. This is good news, especially when several teams are already dealing with players and employees who have had positive tests.
The Orioles staff has been preparing Camden Yards to give the players space during their workouts, which begin on Friday. Players are expected to show up on July 1 for testing. As of publication, no Orioles players have opted out of the 2020 season. But with games scheduled in Florida and Georgia, where cases are spiking, this could change. The numbers in Maryland and other New England states are holding steady or dropping, but traveling outside of those safer zones could create problems for players and staffs.
The safety precautions include rearranging the clubhouse and other spaces. They will also initiate a prearranged time schedule for players. These precautions will also happen at the off-site location where the extra Orioles players will workout.
It will be interesting to watch how the Orioles move their players around, as prospects need time on the field just like the veterans do. Will the Orioles front office have their eyes on prospects from other camps? Considering the numbers of top minor league players populating other 60-man pools, it might not be out of the question.