It’s only May, but the Orioles have already given us plenty of surprises when it comes to the 25-man roster. They caught us off guard in spring training, and have dropped a few more on us already this season. No one should be shocked by a high turnover rate on a rebuilding team, but anyone that attempted to play general manager with this year’s club may have been a little taken back once or twice.
DJ Stewart was a legitimate candidate to start in the outfield before he was sent to minor league spring training. John Means was, at best, a middle reliever for the big club simply because he was left handed. Flash forward to May 8— Means has been the best pitcher for Baltimore and Stewart is hitting .250 at Triple-A Norfolk.
During the offseason, the only lock in the outfield appeared to be Cedric Mullins in centerfield. Fair or not, Mullins became an early face of the Orioles rebuild by default. He supplanted franchise player Adam Jones in center field well after the Orioles had fallen out of contention, and provided a spark with his speed and crafty defense. Unfortunately, Mullins recorded only six hits in 64 at bats this year, and was sent down to Norfolk on April 22.
Anyone that had Jesus Sucre and Pedro Severino serving as the Orioles two catchers on opening day should have spent the entire offseason in Las Vegas. Austin Wynns went down with an injury, and the Orioles decided that former top prospect Chance Sisco needed more seasoning in the minors. Sucre, after an impressive pitching performance of his own, eventually was replaced by Wynns. Severino, a waiver claim from DC, has started to settle in for Baltimore. His .250/.328/.519 slash line in 17 games ranks well above his career average.
It’s certainly too soon to write off either player. Both still project to be a part of the club’s future, and there’s no pressure to have them in Baltimore right now. When it comes to Mullins, clearly things weren’t working out early this year. Manager Brandon Hyde told reporters, “He just got off to a tough start this year and kind of never got going.” Hyde said they sent Mullins to Norfolk so he could work on a few specific things in a low-pressure environment.
Mullins, a switch hitter, essentially became a platoon player before being optioned. He rarely faced lefties, and hit only .156 against southpaws in 55 plate appearances last year. Still, Mullins showed last year that he’s capable of playing at the Major League level. He hit .264/.319/.432 against righties in 136 at bats, and rated only slightly below average in the field.
Sisco, on the other hand, struggled last year for the Birds. The Orioles second pick in the 2013 draft hit only .168 in 63 games in Baltimore last season. His shaky glove lived up to its reputation, but his strong bat did not. After being sent to Norfolk in the middle of July, Sisco did not return until the rosters expanded. He went hitless in 11 September at bats.
Ready for some good news? Both have taken off recently at Norfolk. Since April 28, not a single minor leaguer has driven in more runs than Sisco. His 18 RBIs have come during an eight-game hit streak. The righty has five home runs during the streak, including a multi-blast night in a 4-5 effort Saturday night. He’s 16-30 during the stretch, and has scored a run in every game. After a bit of a slow start, Sisco has raised his average to .293. He could eclipse .300 by the end of the week.
Mullins hit the ground running for the Tides. In 11 games, he’s hit .304/.396/.522. He’s homered from both sides of the plate, and has already worked seven walks. He’s also stolen four bases.
Hyde had high praise for Mullins earlier this week. He commended him for bouncing back so quickly, and praised the 24-year-old for hitting from both sides of the plate. Still, he referred to Mullins’ stay at Triple-A as “open-ended.”
If they keep hitting, both could be on their way to Baltimore sometime soon. Obviously success builds confidence, and both have to feel a little better now than they did at the beginning of April. An injury could catapult either back to the bigs, but so could more hot hitting. Sisco would likely be the next catcher called upon, while Mullins could be passed over for a soon-to-be healthy Austin Hays.
So which of these two do you think we’ll be seeing next? Do you think either should be recalled now? Make sure to vote, and let us know in the comments!
Who will return to Baltimore first?
This poll is closed