With the Baltimore Orioles looking to make the next step, some young players may not get the opportunities they were afforded in 2022.
One true sign of when a baseball team is ready to make the leap to competitiveness is a talented, useful bench. Reserves are often an afterthought on losing ballclubs, largely comprised of veterans making the league minimum and “AAAA” players too good for the minors, but not good enough for the majors. As talent permeates to the top level, roster depth grows and more cash is spent on major league expenditures, hence a more balanced roster.
The Baltimore Orioles bench is preparing for what should be Extreme Makeover: Baseball Edition. Roster spots used on veteran fliers or organizational fillers will now (hopefully) be replaced by valuable Major League contributors. As a result, a few young names who appeared for the 2022 Orioles may not get the chance to prove themselves in Baltimore again in 2023. Who could these guys be?
The son of Angels manager Phil Nevin was one of AAA Norfolk’s best hitters last season and his defensive versatility often made him first man up in event of injury. Unfortunately, the Major League production wasn’t there to match.
In fairness, Nevin didn’t have enough plate appearances to qualify for StatCast leaderboards, but the data we do have is disappointing. Nevin’s average exit velocity was in the bottom 30% of hitters and over one mile per hour slower than average. His .261 wOBA is over 50 points below average. He hit just .164 against four-seam fastballs.
Nevin’s ability to play multiple positions is a plus, but with so many infield prospects on the cusp of being ready and the club looking at the trade and free agent markets to upgrade the roster, it’s unlikely we see Tyler Nevin in orange and black next season.
Gillaspie and his mid 90’s heater had four separate stints in the big leagues throughout 2022 and was largely impressive in his 17.1 innings. Though he allowed more hits (20) than innings pitched and only struck out a little over five batters per nine innings, Gillaspie came out with a 3.12 ERA/3.57 FIP.
There may be a scenario in which he makes the team or appears at some point as a backend bullpen option if there’s injuries or a rain-induced doubleheader but if the Orioles choose to bolster the bullpen in free agency, Logan Gillaspie could be on the outside looking in.
Lowther was a darkhorse rotation candidate entering 2022, but made just one mop-up appearance for the Orioles last year. Unfortunately, he allowed five runs in that outing. Lowther has subsequently lost his place in line to prospects like Mike Baumann, Kyle Bradish, DL Hall, and Grayson Rodríguez, and would likely need a catastrophic injury bug to return to the Baltimore Orioles in 2023.