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Possible Markakis replacements within the Orioles organization

All hope is not lost. The Orioles already have a few in-house options to replace the departed Markakis

Dariel Alvarez at this summer's Future's Game
Dariel Alvarez at this summer's Future's Game
Elsa/Getty Images

Yesterday, Camden Chat's Steve Damerell gave a take on who the O's could turn to outside of the organization to fill the void left by Nick Markakis and his four-year, $44 million pact with the Atlanta Braves. As Steve explained, the free agent options are unimpressive and the big name trade pieces seem unattainable. So, today I'm going to explore the talent already in orange and black.

Long Shots

These are the guys that could be fun to imagine out there if you are into things like having a heart attack every time a ball is hit towards right field. But desperate times call for desperate measures. Let's scrape the bottom of the barrel.

Alex Hassan - Who? He is a 26 year old, who will be 27 on Opening Day, that the Orioles nabbed off of waivers from the Athletics last month. Oakland had him for just three days as they had recently claimed him off of waivers from the Red Sox.

He made his Major League debut with Boston last season. In three games he went 1-for-9 at the plate with a walk and five strikeouts. The highest Baseball America ever ranked him in Boston's organization was their 26th-best prospect. But he did receive accolades from BA for his strike zone discipline.

He is a career .291 hitter in the minors with a .396 on-base percentage. His best season came in 2011 with double-A Portland. He slashed .291/.404/.456 with 13 home runs and 64 RBI in 126 games played.

He is on the 40-man roster. He went to Duke, so he is probably a bright guy. And he seems like someone who can hit a little bit. But concerns have been voiced by scouts on his power potential and he isn't exactly speedy on the bases or in the field.
Verdict: Minor League fodder

Quintin Berry - He is that really fast guy who got all kinds of pumped in the dugout when the Orioles were winning down the stretch. He came to Baltimore as a free agent in January and was stashed in Triple-A Norfolk for nearly the entire summer.

With the Tides, he put together a nice season, slashing .285/.382/.367 with three home runs, 35 RBI and 25 stolen bases while playing all over the outfield of Harbor Park in Virginia. After that, he came to Baltimore and went 0-for-2 at the plate and, with those wheels he has, stole just one base, and was left off of the playoff roster.

In reality, he has one nice tool and it is one that manager Buck Showalter doesn't seem all that keen on utilizing. But at least he is friends with Adam Jones.
Verdict: Useful September call-up

Ryan Flaherty - The guy does it all and he does it well. Alright, he is pretty good. Fine, fine! He is passable. He is a nice utility guy and has played right field before. So, why not throw him out there for a few innings and see what he can do.

We know about his woes at the plate. He is a career .221 hitter and he regularly goes into funks where it seems like he does nothing but strike out or ground out to the right side of the infield. All I'm saying is that his 162-game average for home runs is 14. That is the exact number of long bombs Markakis smacked last year. If you are looking for a direct replacement, here is your guy.

Ok, seriously though, Flaherty has experience in the outfield and seems to be the guy on the team that is the easiest to move around and play wherever he is needed. However, his ultimate zone rating does not back that up as the only position where he has a positive rating his second base, his most common spot.
Verdict: Stay on the infield, Flahrt

Slighty More Realistic

They are probably not the solution but don't be surprised if you see them in right field for some period of time in 2015. Showalter likes to get creative sometimes.

Jimmy Paredes - He was an Oriole on two different occasions in 2014 and made enough of an impact to be a part of the squad that went to the playoffs. That, and the Birds were getting hit with the injury bug left and right.

Paredes flexed his offensive muscles with the O's more than he had previously in the Big Leagues. He hit .302/.327/.491 with four doubles, two home runs, eight RBI and two stolen bases in just 18 games. He could do it all, except for, ya know, catch the baseball.

His fielding percentage at third base was .900. Granted, that was a small sample size but you may have been able to get a better number from just about anyone else in the stadium, fans included. We saw the ball squeak between his legs and we saw him throw the ball and bounce it multiple times. It was bad.

That said, he does have experience in the outfield and he has fared a bit better. Still, his numbers are bad as he has a career ultimate zone rating in right field of -2.6 but it is better than the -4.1 at third base and with some more seasoning, he could be an interesting option.
Verdict: Keep an eye on Spring Training

Henry Urrutia - The Cuban showed off his ability to hit for average for a short period of time with the Birds in 2013, but injuries and a failure to develop his game have set him back a substantial amount.

A few months back, I did a review of his 2014 season. Long story, short: it was pretty disappointing. He had a sports hernia injury that cost him significant time and he failed to hit a home run all season. Not a good sign for someone who has always had critics respect his offensive game, albeit not his power, but doubt him in the field.

Word is his glove hasn't improved much either. That is a problem if he is to have any chance in right field at Camden Yards, a more demanding position than left. He will need to come back healthy in the spring and really show off his bat if he has any chance of getting back into the Orioles lineup.
Verdict: Maybe he can be a fourth outfielder one day

In the Conversation

They are already on the team and could fill the gap, but do they make the most sense to the front office?

David Lough - He was thought to be the new starter in left field when he came over from Kansas City last December. Instead, he became a useful piece off the bench who provided nice defense and some speed with very little pop in his bat.

Lough got a bad rap for his poor start to the 2014 season, but he rebounded to hit the ball really well from June through the conclusion of the campaign and his glove was a welcome addition come the ninth inning of just about every Orioles win.

He could be of real value in right field. That is the spot he played 577.2 innings with the Royals in 2013 in which he received votes for Rookie of the Year in the AL. In that time he had an ultimate zone rating of 10.8 and his arm saved 2.4 runs.

The hurdle he will have to jump is his power. Both corner outfield positions are normally thought to be power positions. However, the Orioles make up for it thanks to a middle of the order bat with Jones in center when most teams have a defensive-minded speedster there. And it wasn't like Markakis was a home run hitter at this point in his career anyway. Lough could be a difference maker in right, but only if the team can find someone to man left field that can add some pop.
Verdict: Important part of the team that is comfortable in right, likely to stay in left

Alejandro De Aza - It was just 20 regular season and six postseason games, but De Aza made an immediate impact in the Orioles lineup, hitting .293 in September with the Birds and .333 in October.

He has played all three outfield positions in his career, but right field is where he has the least experience. Overall, his ultimate zone rating per 150 games is 3.6 but his arm has cost teams seven runs, likely not the best attribute to have in a right fielder.

As is the same issue with Lough, De Aza does not have that prototypical power that is associated with some in the #9 spot on the field. That, along with the fact that his defense is not as far above average as Lough's is leads to the conclusion that he is best suited in left.
Verdict: Stay in left, only go to right in emergencies

The Real Contenders

They are the ones talked about in the blogs and on talk radio as the logical choices.

Dariel Alvarez - Scouting reports on the Cuban were not exactly complimentary when he made the jump to the United States for professional baseball. According to Ben Badler of Baseball America, it is thought that he had an uppercut swing and was overall a below average hitter. However, in 2010-11 in Cuba he slashed .363/.404/.613, which all sound like awesome numbers to me, so what do I know.

In 2014, he played for both Bowie and Norfolk. He has played 157 games in the minors, which is basically one Major League season. So, let's have some fun with his career numbers: .311/.336/.484, 41 doubles, 19 home runs and 97 RBI. If he could immediately replicate those numbers in the Bigs, he is the Orioles clean up hitter today. Of course, that may be a bit premature.

The guys is 26 years old and the time would seem to be approaching for him to make a Major League appearance. He certainly is pushing for it. Reports also say that he has a cannon for an arm and is capable of playing anywhere in the outfield. But MASN reporter Roch Kubatko said that he senses the team is not ready to anoint him a starter
Verdict: I feel a Jake Fox-like Spring Training coming from him.

Steve Pearce - Not enough can really be said about the impact Pearce made in 2014. It can be argued to a certain extent that he was the most important player on the team that went to the playoffs. According to Baseball Reference, he posted a 6.0 WAR, leading the team, in just 102 games.

He batted everywhere in the lineup except for lead-off and clean-up and played left field and right field while predominantly being a first baseman. Of those three, right field has been where he has struggled.

His ultimate zone rating per 150 innings there is -2.1 and his arm has cost his team 2.4 runs. So, while he showed with his bat last year that, offensively, he may fit the position, his defense tells us that it may be more appropriate to put him in left.
Verdict: Key cog that will be in the lineup, just not right field regularly

Chris Davis - Oh, Chris. He is such a likable guy, it was disappointing to not have him be a part of the playoff run. That said, he put up miserable numbers when he was on the field before the suspension for Adderall use cut his season short.

The only time he has played right field in the MLB was back in that wacky 2012 season in which he also pitched a couple innings. That year saw him man right for 230 innings after Markakis broke his wrist. It wasn't the prettiest defending ever seen and, according to Fangraphs, his arm cost the O's two runs.

On top of that, he plays a good first base. He was good enough to warrant a Gold Glove nomination following his outstanding 2013 season. It's not typical to move a player away from a position where they have had such success.

With the bat, he provides more than enough power to replace Markakis, but how much he strikes out and that batting average are just hard to look at day in and day out when they happen in conjunction. At least put the ball in play or hit more home runs if you are going to hit .196, man.

The question currently seems to be if Davis will even be with the Orioles in 2015. There is no doubt he will miss Opening day as his suspension still has one game left. But his poor output and high price tag after arbitration may lead the Orioles to look for a different solution.
Verdict: If the team has both Pearce and Davis, it makes more sense to keep Davis at first.

Conclusion

As you probably already know, the Orioles don't have a direct heir-apparent for right field. Each of the internal options has flaws. That is part of the reason the loss of Markakis hurts. Of the current talent pool, Alvarez makes the most sense in that he knows the position and has a skill set that seems to favor it. However, Duquette doesn't seem to want to push him before he is ready.

To me, Paredes is an interesting player. He showed what a poor defender he is when it comes to fielding groundballs. He had a much hotter bat than Flaherty heading into the playoffs, but his glove was that shaky, that Flash was the number one choice. If he can recapture the magic with the bat, I see no reason not to try him in the outfield during the spring.

I feel that the most logical fix with the players they have is Pearce playing left field or DH, Davis at first base and Lough in right field. I realize that may be controversial, especially since i didn't even put him the "contenders" section, but Lough was hitting everything towards the end of the year and plays stellar defense with a much better arm than one would expect from him. He doesn't hit for power but with the comeback of Davis, Matt Wieters and Manny Machado, the team could spare some home runs from elsewhere on the diamond.

What say you, Camden Chatters? Be sure to vote in the poll and comment down below