Welcome to "Overreaction Central" where we take a small sample size and turn it into a spot on the All-Star team. So, perhaps it is a tad premature to talk about this, but Jimmy Paredes has taken his hot spring, gone on the DL for a couple weeks, come back, and is still scorching baseballs.
According to Paredes himself, he was set to go to Norfolk following his four-at-bat rehab stint with Bowie a few days ago. Instead, Jonathan Schoop went down with a knee injury and the switch-hitting utilityman found himself back in the black and orange sooner than expected. He was a welcome addition as he went 6-for-13 over the weekend with four runs scored against the Red Sox.
Obviously, the guy is not going to hit .462 the rest of the way. However, the more we get to see of him, the closer he comes to convincing us all that he may be another solid Dan Duquette find that contributes much more than expected. Dare I say it, could he be to 2015 what Steve Pearce was to 2014?
The hitting is not a fluke
Paredes is a career .289 hitter in the minors. That includes a .300 batting average in Triple-A over 307 games at that level. Not to mention, 29 homers in those 307 games. If we want to just give general estimates, that would give him about 15 bombs per full season; not too shabby.
As I mentioned before, he was crushing the ball in spring to the tune of a .364 average with 12 RBI over 24 games. It's by far the best he has ever looked in the preseason.
However, that was a carry-over from the way he played in 2014, a season he which he batted .302 with two home runs over 53 at-bats for the O's. It's pretty clear, the guy can hit a baseball or two.
Is he over early-career struggles?
The Dominican was once rated as the seventh-best prospect in the Houston Astros farm system back in 2011. That season, Paredes made his Major League debut as a 22-year-old, but he had been a professional for five years at that point.
That first "audition" went well as he batted .286, slugged .393 and drove in 18 runs over 46 games.
But the next two seasons, and even the beginning of 2014, didn't go so hot as he failed to even hit above the Mendoza line in the Bigs. He couldn't break into the Astros lineup, which, at the time, was young and talented, but also terrible.
The fielding is for real too, unfortunately
During the search to fill third base in Manny Machado's absence last year, manager Buck Showalter turned to Paredes at one point. It didn't go well as Paredes made three errors in just 30 chances.
This spring, it went even worse. You have to give it to the Orioles. They really were doing what they could to find a spot for him on the roster. Over 68 innings at the hot corner down in Sarasota, Paredes had a fielding percentage of .889. The team's beat reporters were saying that he looked better in the field, but it was not reflected in the numbers.
It's not as if these results were unexpected. According to Fangraphs, Paredes has a career UZR of -1.9 at second base and -4.1 at third base.
It doesn't get much better in the outfield
With the departures of Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis this winter, a switch to one of the corner outfield positions seemed to make sense, but evidence suggests that it may not work either.
Paredes has never appeared in the outfield for the O's during the regular season, but when he was with Houston he saw some significant time there. Fangraphs gave him negative zone ratings for both left and right (although, he only played eight innings in left). What's worse is that they say his arm cost the Astros three runs over the two years he was there.
Technically, Paredes didn't make any errors in the field this spring when he played the outfield, but it was only two games and he had just two chances.
Personally, I made it to one Spring Training game. Paredes was in left against the Pirates sometime in the middle of March. He came running in on a ball that flew over his head and went for a double. Small sample size, but he did not look like a big leaguer out there.
He's out of options
The only reason the Orioles even got a shot at Paredes in the first place is because of this fact. He went through a whirlwind of waiver claims that sent him from Houston to Miami to Baltimore to Kansas City and back to Baltimore. If the Orioles decide they have no place for him on the roster, he will have to get through waivers again.
Call me a pessimist, but a 26-year-old switch-hitter who looks like he may be starting to figure it out at the plate doesn't sound like something that would make it past 29 other teams.
It's not like the Orioles didn't know this when they decided to make Paredes the replacement for Schoop. They could have just as easily brought up Paul Janish or Jayson Nix if they needed someone to fill a uniform. The promotion of Paredes had a purpose.
I could be way off base here, but it's possible Paredes made the team out of Spring Training, but his injury held him back. Perhaps it is Ryan Flaherty or Everth Cabrera who was saved by the Schoop injury. Who knows, but I am willing to say that Paredes will be on the team for the forseeable future.
That said, if he is going to be on the team, he has to contribute somewhat with the leather. Playing him at third base is setting him up to fail and luckily, with Machado back, that position is basically out of the question.
Second base makes more sense anyway. It's the shortest throw on the field (most of the time) and, unless Flaherty keeps hitting the way he did in Boston, it is the only wide open spot on the diamond.
Paredes seems like a good enough athlete to play the outfield. Honestly, if he can work with the coaches to become even a serviceable right fielder and keep hitting at a solid clip, he is an every day Oriole the rest of the way. Travis Snider and Delmon Young are both liabilities out there, and David Lough doesn't hit enough to play consistently.
And as he has done so far, he can fill the DH role admirably. Showalter may have to work some lineup magic to give him favorable matchups, but that is not a bad problem to have.
It's an old school point of view, but Paredes looks like a baseball player. He is tall and lean. Perhaps not a five-tool player, but he has at least the three offensive tools. He could be the extra bat in the lineup that the Orioles have needed.
What do you think, Camden Chat? Is Paredes here to stay? If so, for how long? And what kind of impact do you expect from him going forward?