It is early September. Throughout this 2014 season, in this Tuesday morning spot I have brought little bios on a different Oriole player that you have grown to love. Well, we don't have time for that nonsense anymore. There is a month left and there will be a couple of guys in uniform that, yeah you have heard of 'em, but you have never seen them play before.
That said, there is a reason these guys are up for grabs at the non-waiver trade deadline. Most of them are not world beaters and news sites don't report too many things about "the other guys". So, as I have no media credentials to talk to these dudes to see what makes them tick, I will be giving you a basic rundown of the "need-to-know" details..
Name: Jimmy Santiago Paredes Number: 38
Born: November 25, 1988 (25 years old) in Bajos de Haina, Dominican Republic
Height: 6'3" Weight: 200 lbs
Bats: Both Throws: Right
Signed: by the New York Yankees as an amateur free agent
Became an Oriole: On February 15 the Orioles took him off waivers from the Miami Marlins. Two days later, the Kansas City Royals selected him off waivers from the O's. On July 24 Baltimore purchased him from the Royals.
We have gotten a taste of the good Parades and, unfortunately, the very bad Paredes. And even though, as you can see above, he has been in the O's system for more than a month, he is still a relatively new face so I threw him in with this group.
The switch-hitting utility man was originally signed as an 18-year-old out of the Dominican Republic. He did well at their lower levels until 2010 when he was packaged with pitcher Mark Melancon and shipped to Houston in exchange for Lance Berkman.
In Houston, he was fantastic in the minors, smacking pitching to a .289 career clip down on the farm. In one season with their triple-A squad, he stole 37 bases and hit 13 home runs. At one point, he was Houston's seventh best prospect.
But he flopped in the majors, struggling to hit his weight and striking out a lot for a guy who is much closer to "speedster" than "slugger".
Following the 2013 season, in which he was, of course, good in the minors for Houston but awful in the bigs, he went on the waiver adventure. He was claimed the Orioles on February 15 and the Royals on February 17 and was with Kansas City until late July.
He stunk with the Royals, but absolutely raked for their Triple-A team. Go figure. He was eventually bought by the Orioles and placed in Norfolk where he hasn't stood out, just hitting .258.
In his career, Parades has made appearances at third base, second base, left field and right field. He rates below average at every position with a negative zone rating everywhere on the diamond. We saw that this analysis may hold some weight yesterday afternoon.
At the plate, he strikes out too much for the type of player he is. He gets that third strike at a clip of 27.8% in his career. For comparison, he falls somewhere between Nelson Cruz and Chris Davis with the amount he strikes out. The problem with that is that he slugs .325 for his career and has only gone long four times in 418 plate appearances.
He has speed, amassing 187 stolen bases in the minors, but it hasn't translated to the major league level. He is 13 for 24 on stolen base attempts in his career.
He is a nice piece off the bench. He has a chance to make a potential Orioles playoff roster. If Steve Pearce and Chris Davis are healthy, he won't see the field but he could be there as an insurance policy. Dan Duquette has acquired him twice this year. They must be seeing something they like.
Alejandro De Aza
Name: Alejandro Alberto De Aza Number: 12
Born: April 11, 1984 (30 years old) in Guaymate, Dominican Republic
Height: 6'0" Weight: 195 lbs
Bats: Left Throws: Left
Signed: by the Los Angeles Dodgers as an amateur free agent on May 1, 2001)
Contract: $4,250,000 in 2014 (Free agent: after 2015)
Became an Oriole: traded by the White Sox in exchange for Mark Blackmar and Miguel Chalas
This has been the most publicized recent addition and it seems as though he finds the Camden Yards bench comfortable, so that's good. Camden Chat's Mark Brown gave a rundown of the O's deal for De Aza earlier this week.
The Orioles will be the fourth organization that De Aza has played for. He was originally a Los Angeles Dodger after they signed him as a 17 year old amateur free agent. He stayed with them through the 2004 season. He showed some speed and pop but his average left something to be desired.
In December of 2013, the Marlins selected De Aza in the minor league phase of the Rule Five Draft. The Florida organization would be his home for the next five seasons as he reached the big leagues there in 2007. Between 2007 and 2009 Alejandro took 164 at-bats with the Marlins and hit just .231, but he managed to knock eight balls out of the ballpark; some surprising pop for the little guy.
He missed all of the 2008 season with an ankle injury but came back at full strength in 2009.
After that 2009 season he was claimed off of waivers by the Chicago White Sox and that is where he made his mark in the league before being snapped up by the O's.
De Aza provides some speed off of the bench. He has stolen 26 bases in a season. The outfielder holds a 70% success rate on stolen base attempts in his career.
The new Oriole is capable of playing every outfield position. The spot he is the most familiar with is center field, but he rates better at the corners. Overall, his ultimate zone rating is a 9.0, which is really good as league average is zero. However, his arm ranks well below average.
At the plate he is alright. His career average is .267. He strikes out a bit much; just above 20% of his at-bats, and walks just 7.6% of the time, just below league average. De Aza does a nice job with right-handed pitching with 30 of his career home runs coming against them along with an average of .273.
It's pretty obvious that De Aza and David Lough will be vying for the same spot on a potential postseason roster. They have semi-similar skill sets as they can each play all of the outfield positions and serve as late-inning pinch runners and defensive replacements. Lough has been a disappointment. I give the edge to De Aza.
Name: Quintin Berry Number: N/A
Born: November 21, 1984 (29 years old) in San Diego, CA
Height: 6'0" Weight: 175 lbs
Bats: Left Throws: Left
Drafted: by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 5th round of the 2006 draft
School: Morse High School (San Diego, CA)
Grossmont College (El Cajon, CA)
San Diego State University (San Diego, CA
Became an Oriole: Signed as a free agent on January 3, 2014
This guy could maybe, sort of, kind of throw a monkey wrench into those De Aza/Lough talks I was just having but I don't expect it. Berry can run very fast and he is tight with Adam Jones; they went to high school together. That's about it.
I could go through his professional baseball career year by year but it is pretty darn messy. He has been in seven different organizations in baseball. Allow me to list them in chronological order: Phillies, Padres, Mets, Reds, Tigers, Royals, Red Sox, and finally, the Orioles.
He made his debut for the 2012 Detroit Tigers as a 27-year-old and held his own, hitting .258. But the beautiful number with them was his perfect 21-for-21 stolen base record. As a major leaguer he is 24-for-24 on swipe attempts. In the minors he made it 80% of the time.
Berry is familiar with the three outfield positions but the numbers aren't anything special there. He is maybe a smidgen below average.
But just stop, he is here to run. If Nelson Cruz, Delmon Young or J.J. Hardy get on near the end of a game Berry is going to be the one stretching his legs.
That is likely not enough for him to go into the playoffs with the team but it will help get them there.
Name: Kelly Andrew Johnson Number: 14
Born: February 22, 1982 (32 years old) in Austin, TX
Height: 6'1" Weight: 200 lbs
Bats: Left Throws: Right
Drafted: by the Atlanta Braves 38th overall in the 2000 draft
School: Westwood High School (Austin, TX)
Contract: $3,000,000 (Free agent after this season)
Became an Oriole: Traded by the Boston Red Sox with Michael Almanzar in exchange for Ivan De Jesus and Jemile Weeks
This is the most intriguing name of the bunch to me. As Mark pointed out the other day, he will have now played for every team in the AL East and provides real depth on the infield.
Before his days in the AL he was an Atlanta Brave. After being the first round draft selection big things were expected of him. He reached the number three spot on the Braves prospect list, but faltered in 2002 and never got that high again.
Despite this, he was good in Atlanta. He showed good pop by hitting 16 home runs, 26 doubles and 10 triples with a .276 average in his first full season with the big club.
His career year came in 2010 as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks. He set career highs in games played (154), runs (93), hits (166), home runs (26), RBI (71) and walks (79). Could you imagine a second baseman hitting 26 home runs in this O's lineup? That would be quite the weapon.
He failed to regain that form after heading to Toronto and, as his role becomes more of a bench player his performance has suffered. He is now hitting for averages in the low .200s when he was once in the .270s and .280s
In the field, Johnson is actually at his worst at the position he has played the most in his career: second base. His ultimate zone rating there is a -7.4. That is well below average and would make him a detriment to the pitching staff.
Other than second, Johnson has seen time at first base, third base, left field and right field. According to that same ultimate zone rating statistic, he ranks as a plus defender at third, left and right with a decent arm.
Being in the AL. the Orioles tend to carry 12 position players and 13 pitchers during the season. They don't have to pinch hit many times so the extra fielder would be a waste of a spot. If the team is fortunate enough to make the playoffs, the first round is only five games at the maximum. The team won't need the extra pitcher so it is likely the ratio will flip.
That said, Kelly Johnson may have a spot on the Oriole roster in a potential divisional series. He can play all over the diamond and provides power off of the bench. Manager Buck Showalter isn't about to swap out his favorite Ryan Flaherty for Johnson, but having both on a roster could work.
Flaherty is the superior fielder and can play a nice shortstop. Johnson is the better hitter and go do the job in the field at third or second if he had to.
An interesting wrinkle to this final month could be the competition between Paredes and Johnson for the back-up infield utility role. The recent injury to Pearce makes it even more interesting. The Orioles will want Paredes to win it, but his defense was lacking yesterday. Showalter won't stand for poor gloveman-ship.
These are some of the guys either joining the club or headed to the "taxi squad" in Sarasota where they will be working out, ready to get the call if needed. If you follow the O's on a year-to-year basis you're already familiar with these guys. If you don't know their name now, you probably don't need to until 2015.
-Evan Meek (With the club. He pitched Monday afternoon)
- (With the club)
- (With the club)
- (Headed to Baltimore)
In past years many of these "taxi squad" guys would have been with the O's throughout September and would play significant innings. Oh, how the times have changed. The final month of the season has gone from a glorified tryout to a pennant race. I've never loved change so much.
Do you think any of the new additions will make a difference in September and beyond? Let us know in the comments down below.