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Wednesday Bird Droppings: All eyes are on the Orioles minor leaguers

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It is a time of transition for farm systems throughout Major League Baseball.

MLB: Spring Training-Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning Birdland,

There is a lot going on in relation to the Orioles minor leaguers this week. Not only did the team’s fall instructional camp kick off on Tuesday, but now the talks of MiLB contraction have fired back up.

It was a Zoom press call with O’s GM Mike Elias that spurred the chatter locally, but there aren’t any new developments as far as we know. What is expected is the following:

-The four full season levels will remain, but the teams that make-up these leagues could change.

-The existing short-season leagues are either going to be eliminated or altered.

-MLB is attempted to transition any teams and cities that will lose affiliated status into leagues that will field high-quality college summer leagues.

How and when MLB and MiLB finalize these changes is unclear. But it will mean that each organization will have fewer players and the amateur draft will likely shrink in similar order.

Baseball is in experiencing a time of transition. Some of the rule alterations put into place for the shortened 2020 season are likely to return in 2021 as well. Change can be a good thing, but we won’t really know the fallout of these adjustments for a while.

Links & Notes

Next year is uncertain for Orioles’ minor league teams, too
It sure sounds like the minor league system is going to shrink over this off-season. Among the Orioles affiliates, the Frederick Keys are the most likely to go, but given the uncertainty of the world right now that could change.

Five things we learned about Orioles fall instructional league - School of Roch
This is the sort of thing that feels more important this year than it would be in the past. None of these players experienced a “real” season. This instructional league could be vital to their development, given that we can expect a return to normalcy in 2021.

Breaking down the five types of prospects the O’s invited to instructional camp - The Baltimore Sun
It’s unclear why Heston Kjerstad won’t be involved in the camp, although we all could venture a guess. Nevertheless, it will be exciting to hear any reports that come out of Sarsota.

Baltimore Orioles Should Opt-In on Jose Iglesias for 2021 - Birds Watcher
Definitely. Jose Iglesias was pretty good this year. There are no shortstops on the horizon for the O’s. And it would be nice to actually see a healthy Iglesias in the field. The team could stand an upgrade from what Pat Valaika was doing at the position for most of the season. On top of that, Iglesias is only due a reasonable $3.5 million next year.

Orioles birthday

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

Current O’s pitcher Kohl Stewart turns 26 today. Stewart, a Type 1 diabetic, opted out of the 2020 season due to concerns related to COVID-19. He has not yet appeared in a regular season game for the O’s, but appears to be in their plans for 2021.

Alex Cobb celebrates his 33rd birthday. The right-hander just concluded his third season with the O’s. He has appeared in 41 games since signing a four-year contract with the Birds prior to the 2018 season. All in, he has a 5.10 ERA and 4.05 FIP over 217 total innings.

Left-handed pitcher John O’Donoghue turns 81. He played in 16 games for the 1968 O’s. During that time he had a 6.14 ERA over 22.0 innings.

Finally, it is the birthday of the late Gray Hatton (b. 1922, d. 2013). The infielder spent 12 years in the majors, but just 27 games with the Orioles. All of those came during the 1956 season, when he slashed .148/.297/.213 with one home run and one double.

Orioles history

2012 - Orioles closer Jim Johnson struggles in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Yankees. Johnson enters in the ninth inning of a 2-2 game, but allows five runs and the Bombers prevail 7-2.