There are a lot of good things to say about the Orioles right now. The bullpen has been rock solid. The rotation has held its own. The offense is clicking. And the fielding has been as good as ever. A key component to all of these things has been the newbies; guys who were not in the Orioles organization last year. They are jumping in and contributing, some more than others. How are they each faring so far?
Joey Rickard: A+
This guy will be an Orioles legend no matter how good or bad he plays the rest of his career. He is 24 years old, has played six games in the big leagues and already has a six-game hitting streak, his first home run, fans chanting his name and a curtain call. That's about as good as it gets.
Now, that batting average (.409) will drop and that home run may very well be the only one he hits all season, but he has added an element to the Orioles lineup that was sorely needed. We know he will start to see more and more off-speed stuff now that he has proved he can handle a major league fastball, but for this week, let's bask in his greatness.
Mark Trumbo: A
His start to the season may be more surprising than anyone else on the roster. When the Orioles traded for Trumbo back in December, we expected nothing but dongs and strikeouts. Well, that has not been the case. He just homered for the first time all season yesterday, but has only struck out three times while walking once and getting the team's only stolen base to this point. Add all of that to a .417/.440/.542 batting line and you have one hot start.
In the field, it hasn't been perfect so far, but look for manager Buck Showalter to do what he did Monday at Fenway: try to hid him as best he can. There will be days he is the DH or at first to spell Chris Davis, but most days right field will be his and that is OK. We can handle mediocre defense and even fewer dongs if he keeps getting on base
Hyun Soo Kim: B
This really could be an "incomplete" or something like that, but I'm giving him a B because the people need a real answer! But seriously, what is there to really complain about Kim so far? He was booed on Opening Day for some dumb reason and he has handled the press like a pro so far.
On the field, he has appeared in only one game and, while they were not exactly line drives, he went 2-for-3 with a run scored. Sure, his routes in the outfield need some work and he adds little to the team if he is not hitting, but there is not much to fault him for. When on the field, he has produced. We need to see more.
Yovani Gallardo: C+
The first start was pretty darn good (5 IP, 1 ER, 1 H, 3 BB, 4 SO). The second start was downright bad (5 IP, 5 ER, 7 H, 1 BB, 3 SO). Both of them were a short five innings and led to added stress on the bullpen. The Orioles can't afford to have every starter rely on the bullpen for the same four innings every single day. They need a break. Relief pitchers are people too!
How much was actually expected from Gallardo though? His dip in velocity was well known and it is showing itself again. He is topping out in the high-80s on his fastball most times and is, instead, relying on a lot of sliders to get through the lineups a couple of times. Unfortunately, this could become the norm. You win't look forward to Gallardo's turn in the rotation. You will just hope to survive it.
Vance Worley: C
If he could have gone one more inning against Tampa Bay on Sunday, this would have been a B grade. But just 4.2 innings? And on 79 pitches? I know it's April, but that just won't work. However, he does deserve another start. As Showalter has said, he kept the Orioles in the game. That is the low bar the Birds have set for their starters. Just don't screw it up for the hitters. Worley is a safe bet to do that. He is just blah, which is exactly why he gets a C, the blah-est grade of them all.
Pedro Alvarez: D
He is 1-for-15. The only thing keeping this from an F or a D-, maybe, is the fact that he did score a run, and it was a pretty important one against Tampa on Sunday. Other than that, though, he has had a miserable first week of the season. For those of you that care, he has a .067/.222/.067 batting line. That OBP is a saving grace (when compared to the batting average). Alvarez has walked three times, which trails only Chris Davis on the team.
The thing about Alvarez is that he is not going to field unless the likes of Davis, Trumbo, Kim, Caleb Joseph, Matt Wieters and Ryan Flaherty (or anyone else that has any idea how to play first base for that matter) are all hurt at the same time. So, it's only his bat that provides value, and it is not doing that at the moment. But we know the dongs will come. Keep faith, Birdland.