It’s official: The Orioles now have both Joseph brothers, Caleb and Corban, on their big league roster. It may be that few if any other MLB teams would roster either of the Joseph brothers, let alone both, but as far as faintly feel-good stories go for the middle of a lost season, you can do a lot worse than getting two brothers playing together in MLB.
The Orioles returned Caleb Joseph to the team into the open roster spot created by optioning Chance Sisco to Triple-A Norfolk a couple of days ago. It seems that the O’s want Sisco to work on some aspects of his defense, represented in part by his cold streak throwing out runners after earlier getting as high as 45% of stealers eliminated.
This was the expected roster move. The Orioles also threw in another one. Pedro Alvarez was designated for assignment by the O’s. That opened up space on both the 25- and 40-man rosters, which they filled by selecting the contract of infielder Steve Wilkerson from Norfolk.
Alvarez had a decent 2016 campaign for the O’s and he wasn’t bad in his return last September either, but it’s 2018 now and Alvarez is batting .180/.283/.414 for the season. With the myriad problems facing the Orioles with their lack of roster flexibility, they just have no room for a DH-only player who isn’t hitting much, even if, sadly for the rest of the O’s, Alvarez is tied for third on the team in home runs with eight.
Removing Alvarez from the roster is a bit of a surprise in that the Orioles have not spent a lot of time over the last couple of years punishing any of “their guys” for poor performance. It is not a surprise when you look at that batting line.
Wilkerson, 26, was an eighth round pick by the O’s out of Clemson in the 2014 draft. He has mostly played second base in the minors while also getting a little bit of time at shortstop and third base.
With a strong 2017 campaign split between Frederick and Bowie, plus some great performance in the Arizona Fall League, Wilkerson seemed like a good candidate for the O’s vacant utility infielder role - at least until he got suspended for 50 games for testing positive for an amphetamine. Oops.
Wilkerson served out the suspension and in 16 games since returning to the Norfolk lineup is batting .290/.362/.500. Maybe Wilkerson will amount to nothing, but in this lost season I’d sure rather see a guy like Wilkerson than Jace Peterson, and he offers a lot more flexibility than Alvarez, too. Wilkerson isn’t in Tuesday’s starting lineup. I’m curious to see how the O’s use him.