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MLB Draft 2015: Taking stock of the Orioles infield depth

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The Orioles lack a lot of depth at the infield positions, but Christian Walker may be the leader of this group and the next guy to make the transition to the major league permanently.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

While the Orioles do have a lot of free agents coming up after the 2015 season, the infield should still look pretty much the same as this year. They will have some vacancies though and some guys may need to be brought up. Over the last few years, the O's have really emphasized defense for their infield and that has turned into wins on the field. But that may have come at a cost, as the offensive production from some players has declined and other guys aren't yet producing much behind the plate. Obviously, injuries have also played a role in the makeup of the infield in 2014 and 2015.

So before I start looking at who's available in the minor leagues, I wanted to look at who's currently on the major league roster, how long will they be here, and where are the holes? Note that for the below table I'm only using current contract status.

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

C

Wieters




Joseph

Joseph

Joseph

Joseph

Joseph

Joseph

1B

Davis

2B

Schoop

Schoop

Schoop

Schoop

Schoop

3B

Machado

Machado

Machado

Machado

SS

Hardy

Hardy

Hardy

Bench

Pearce

Paredes

Paredes

Paredes

Paredes

Paredes

Flaherty

Flaherty

Flaherty

Cabrera

Cabrera

A couple of notes about this table:

- I know Steve Clevenger is currently on the team, but my assumption is he's going to be optioned back to the minors shortly when Wieters returns.

- Jimmy Paredes has been primarily a DH thus far, but my guess is that will have to change if he wants to stay on the team next year. And if his bat continues to do well, I expect the team will try to make him into at least a Ryan Flaherty type.

- I'm cheating a little bit because I've got more players on here than the Orioles could ever actually carry on their 25-man roster, but I wanted to include all the contributors this year

The biggest hole is at first base, but otherwise the infield isn't looking too bad for the next couple years. With that in mind, who is playing down on the farm and where might there be some holes the team should look to fill in, starting with this year's draft? It should probably be noted that obviously there are a lot of players on the Orioles various minor league affiliates, but not all of them are real shots for the major leagues, some are just there to fill out the minor league's club roster or are long shot type players.

To filter some of those guys out, I used Fangraphs prospect list from before the season started, included guys who have major league experience, looked at the 40-man roster, and added on anyone else I thought deserved a mention.

Anyone currently on the Tides would likely be most ready to help out the team, so lets' start with them:

Name

Position

40-man?

Steve Clevenger

Catcher

Yes

Michael Almanzar

Third Base

No

Rey Navarro

Second Base

Yes

Christian Walker

First Base

Yes

So, this probably isn't good. If the Orioles decide to keep Clevenger stashed on the minors after Wieters returns, I think he could be a good backup to Caleb Joseph for at least next year if not longer, but otherwise I don't really like this list. The organization seems very high on Almanzar, acquiring him multiple times, but the scouting reports don't match up. Navarro helped out this year while Hardy and Schoop were injured, but he's not an everyday player. Finally there's Walker who tore through the minors last year and got some big league experience with the O's when Davis was suspended. But so far this year in Norfolk his OPS is only .632 and has only hit two home runs. It's tough to see him really being ready for the Orioles by next season but he may be the best option.

Here's how AA Bowie is looking:

Name

Position

Brandon Snyder

First Base

Chris O'Brien

Catcher

This list is short, but there just isn't anyone of note on the roster in the infield. I picked out these two guys because they lead the team in certain stat categories. Brandon Snyder is the team's leader in OPS, but has only 16 games because he just signed with the club in April and spent some time on the DL. He's kind of a career AAAA guy, appearing in 83 MLB games including the Orioles who drafted him in the first round in 2005. Chris O'Brien leads the Baysox in home runs (5). Maybe there's more in Frederick?

Name

Position

Chance Sisco

Catcher

Trey Mancini

First Base

Drew Dosch

Third Base

Adrian Marin

Shortstop

Fangraphs rated Chance Sisco the Orioles #3 prospect, behind Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey. He's struggled at Frederick this year at the plate (last year he was at Delmarva) but his biggest upside is supposed to be his bat and the team is hopeful his catching skills come around. He's got a couple more years in the minors, but all expectations are he'll play for the Orioles at some point. Mancini, Dosch, and Marin were all also rated or mentioned in the Fangraphs list, but looking over their stats with the Keys, nothing really stands out to me yet.

Other than Sisco, I'd say Marin has the best chance to play with the Orioles because of his position. If he can develop more, he may be ready to make his debut right around the time Hardy is leaving for free agency. There's no shortstops rated higher than him in the system, so he's someone to keep an eye on.

Finally, we have Delmarva:

Name

Position

Jomar Reyes

Third Base

Jonah Heim

Catcher

Jomar Reyes signed out of the Dominican and while he's currently at third base, is probably too big to stay there and is likely to move around to first. He's got a good bat and so far this year has a .773 OPS with two home runs, 11 doubles, and three triples. Jonah Heim is like Sisco, new to catching but with a lot of people thinking he's destined for the big leagues. Unfortunately, his development has been set back due to a broken bone in his foot that has him out for the season.

* * *

So that's kind of it for Orioles infield depth. There are some good names here, but I think you'll definitely see the Orioles focus on adding more guys in the upcoming draft. The system is pretty loaded with pitchers and outfielders, though I suppose it never hurts to add more.

The good news is with Joseph, Hardy, Machado, and Schoop there isn't too much of a need in the short term. Hardy may not get another contract with the Orioles, but the other three are young guys I'd expect to see around for a while. Certainly with Machado, anyone in the system playing third base might as well hope to get traded though I suppose it's possible he would move to shortstop when Hardy leaves. But at that point Machado would have played third for five-plus years - would it make sense to move him? Either way, that's one infield position you have to think is taken care of for a very long time.