Baltimore Orioles 2024 Opening Day roster projection 3.0: Red hot outfielder snubbed

With Opening Day a mere ten days away, we project which players are favored to head north for the opener against the Angels

Baltimore Orioles Photo Day
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Infielders (7): Jackson Holliday, Jordan Westburg, Gunnar Henderson, Jorge Mateo, Ryan Mountcastle, Ryan O'Hearn, Ramon Urías

As things currently stand, the above-named infielders are projected to travel north with the team for Opening Day. I am well aware of Coby Mayo's dominant Spring Training, one in which he has led the team in hits (15), doubles (7) and been third in OPS behind Colton Cowser and Kyle Stowers. But Roch Kubatko reported that Mayo's chances to make the team are significantly lower if Jackson Holliday makes the club. And Holliday, who came into Spring Training ahead of Mayo for a roster spot, has done nothing to cast doubt on his preparedness for the Show.

The 20-year-old Holliday has posted an .883 OPS in 40 at-bats, including a monstrous grand slam blast against the Blue Jays a little while ago. And while I think the Orioles should trade Ramon Urías - not because he isn't good, but because he likely has more value to another team playing every day than he does in Baltimore - there is no current indication that he will be moved. Veteran Kolten Wong, who the Orioles signed to a minor-league contract, is likely on the outside looking in.

Outfielders (4): Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins, Anthony Santander, Colton Cowser

Despite including Heston Kjerstad as a backup outfielder for Versions 1 and 2, it appears clear that Colton Cowser has leap-frogged Kjerstad for the left-handed hitting power outfield bat spot. In fact, as Roch Kubatko noted Monday morning, both Cowser and Kyle Stowers are likely ahead of Kjerstad in the pecking order for a spot on the Opening Day roster.

And speaking of Stowers. Following his three-home run barrage yesterday against the Tigers, Stowers is up to seven home runs on the Spring to lead the entire Grapefruit League. Didn't see that one coming.

But this is the same Kyle Stowers who couldn't stick with the Orioles after being assured a spot last spring.

As Camden Chat shrewdly pointed out, "Kyle Stowers essentially lost a year in 2023. He broke camp with the team, struggled right away, suffered a pair of injuries in the minors and never made his way back to Baltimore. He recorded just two hits in 30 at bats, took a fastball to the face at Triple-A, and missed nearly two months with shoulder inflammation. By anyone’s standards, that qualifies as a year to forget."

That's not say Stowers won't contribute to the Orioles this year. If I had my druthers, I would carry Stowers and Cowser, and try to find a trade partner for Ryan O'Hearn. But there simply is no room for three power-hitting, left-handed outfield/DH types, especially with Hays, Mullins, and Santander locked in as the starting three outfielders. Something has to give.

The best thing for Stowers and the Orioles at this point is a trade. While it is unclear what Stowers would fetch in a deal, an injury-riddled team (such as the Reds, who just lost outfielder TJ Friedl to a broken wrist) could deal for Stowers. Without making this a trade article, the Orioles could package Stowers with another player and target a pitcher in return.

Finally, it appears with Mateo and Cowser, both of whom can cover center field, set to make the team, Ryan McKenna may be left without a chair when the music stops.