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Looking for the diamond in the rough among the Orioles non-roster invitees

There probably isn't a diamond in the rough on the Orioles camp roster, because if the guys were obviously good, they'd be on the 40-man already. But if they did find someone good, maybe it would be one of these guys.

Some of the most interesting contributors to the past several Orioles seasons have been the ones who came almost completely out of nowhere to make the team. It's fair to say this has been a quiet but significant way for the O's to improve their roster in Dan Duquette's tenure. It's unpredictable, too, because if any team could look at a player and know he'd be good, he would never get to the point where he was a non-roster invitee to spring training.

The Orioles announced this spring's non-roster invitees on Tuesday. Many of the 17 names will sound familiar.

Position Players Invited
Right-handed pitcher Pedro Beato, Hunter Harvey, Todd Redmond
Left-handed pitcher Jeff Beliveau, Cesar Cabral, Andy Oliver, Ashur Tolliver
Catcher Jonah Heim, Audry Perez, Chance Sisco
Infielder Paul Janish, Trey Mancini, Ozzie Martinez, Steve Tolleson
Outfielder Xavier Avery, L.J. Hoes, Alfredo Marte

About half of these are players who've been in the Orioles organization at some point before, had their careers take them elsewhere, and have ended up back here as a non-roster invitee. You can't really label a player as a potential out of nowhere find if you've seen them before.

Another four names are ones who can safely be labeled as prospects, though we can all argue over just how serious their big league chances are. That's Harvey, Heim, Sisco, and Mancini. They're prospects being given a taste of big league camp, especially the catchers, because somebody's gotta catch all these bullpen sessions. Mancini's the only one who might see MLB action this year, and if he does, he won't be coming out of nowhere to O's fans.

If we scratch out the players in those two categories, it doesn't leave us with very many names at all in the quest to find the next Miguel Gonzalez, who was the first but not the last of Duquette's surprise finds. Gonzalez was so under-the-radar that he didn't even merit an invitation to big league spring training in 2012. If the O's do have their hands on the next Gonzalez, he's not even going to be on this list.

Maybe a better way to frame the search is to say that the O's are looking for the next Caleb Joseph or Delmon Young, two players who received invitations to the big league camp in 2014 and went on to help the big league team in significant ways by year's end.

Joseph got his big league chance by being a late-blooming grinder who was in the right place at the right time. Young was the top prospect in all of baseball long ago who, at that point, had bounced through several organizations and was looking to turn his career around, which he did, or at least for a year. Recent news gives the impression any change did not stick.

So, with the understanding that nearly all of these names are more likely to end up like forgotten invites of the past such as Zach Braddock, Conor Jackson, and Scott Beerer, let's survey the landscape of the unknowns.

Jeff Beliveau

Pro: Left-handed, has a pulse. Posted a 2.63 ERA in half a season for the Rays bullpen in 2014.
Con: Torn labrum, had surgery last April.

Ashur Tolliver

Pro: Left-handed, has a pulse. Struck out 61 batters in 58.2 innings out of the bullpen for the Eastern League champion Bowie Baysox in 2015.
Con: 28 years old and has never gotten above Double-A. Walked nearly 12% of the batters he faced last season.

Ozzie Martinez

Pro: Played at MLB level in 2010 and 2011. Can play shortstop.
Con: 27 year old who batted .252/.310/.303 for Bowie last year.

Alfredo Marte

Pro: Right fielder. Batting lines the last two seasons for Triple-A Reno: .319/.407/.519 and .318/.381/.469.
Con: About to turn 27. Reno is in the Pacific Coast League, which is known as a hitter-friendly league.

All of them have at least a little something going for them or they wouldn't have even been invited to camp. They're probably not the next Joseph, Young, or Gonzalez. If Beliveau has a healthy shoulder, he might seem like the most likely to contribute to the big league club, but when you're talking about recovery from a torn labrum, that's a very big if.

As for the position players, even if it's a hitter-friendly league, you have to like that plate discipline from Marte. Walking nearly 10% of the time! It's not completely outrageous to imagine Marte forcing his way into the picture by hitting so well in spring or over the first couple of months of the season for Norfolk.

Don't get too invested in any of these camp filler names. If they can play, the Orioles will find a time and place for them to play and they could end up being the next surprising and fun success story. If not, they'll be out of sight and mind before you need to get worried about them.