The latest in the long line of 2015 Orioles outfielders has arrived to take his shot at holding down playing time. Dariel Alvarez joined the team from Norfolk in time for Friday's game against the Rangers. Alvarez picks up the mantle of the #12 uniform, worn most recently by Alejandro De Aza.
There was already an open space on the Orioles roster thanks to the O's optioning reliever Jorge Rondon back to Norfolk following Thursday's game against the Royals. There was an extra man in the bullpen during the Royals series. Now it's back to normal. The O's also didn't need to make any corresponding 40-man roster moves to purchase Alvarez's contract from Norfolk because of the slew of recent DFAs.
There are now 38 players on the 40-man roster, which gives the O's a little room to add non-roster players for September call-ups as well, if they choose to do so.
Alvarez, 26, is another of Dan Duquette's mid-20s Cuban free agent signings. Strangely, as if by law that you can only have one Cuban on the roster at a time, the Orioles optioned Henry Urrutia back to the minors to make room for Alvarez - remember, there's also Steve Clevenger returning from the paternity list today. Urrutia will probably be back after rosters expand.
The O's inked Alvarez back in 2013 and he's mostly played for either Bowie or Norfolk ever since. The 2015 campaign has seen him spend the entire year with the Tides, where, through 130 games, he has batted .275/.305/.424.
It's obviously not a very overwhelming batting line for Alvarez, but he doesn't have to do a whole lot to be better than what the Orioles have trotted out up until now. Left fielders for the O's are collectively batting .209/.281/.324, which, even knowing that Orioles outfielders have been bad, is a number that surprised me with how bad it is. Alvarez doesn't walk a whole lot, only 3% of the time so far this year, but he doesn't strike out a whole lot either - about 12% of the time.
Alvarez also brings some respectable power, with 16 home runs in 541 plate appearances so far this season.
On top of that, his arm is very well regarded. A recent survey by Baseball America rated Alvarez as having the best arm in the entire International League, which is not the same as lighting up MLB, to be sure, but it is nonetheless better than being the one-eyed man who is king of the blind.
Can he help the Orioles be better than they have been? Even if the answer to the previous question is yes, is there enough time left in the season for this to matter? It will be hard for him to be much worse than what they've already been trotting out there. Then again, that's what we all said about the since-DFA'd Chris Parmelee and Nolan Reimold as well.
Alvarez has certainly earned a shot. Here's hoping he can make the most of it.