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Tuesday Bird Droppings: Where the youngsters got to show their stuff

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A number of the Orioles’ top 30 prospects have made their spring debuts in Grapefruit League play, with varying results.

MLB: FEB 18 Baltimore Orioles Photo Day
Zac Lowther may look like an accountant, but he’s actually a pretty decent O’s prospect.
Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

The Orioles’ Grapefruit League season is now two days old. And in the early weeks of spring training, before cuts are made, one of the main draws of exhibition games is the chance for many of the club’s best prospects to play alongside established big leaguers, many of them for the first time.

In the first two games, eight of the Orioles’ top 30 prospects (as rated by MLB Pipeline) have made an appearance. Yesterday, lefty Zac Lowther (No. 11 prospect) made his 2021 Grapefruit League debut against the Phillies, and while he was a bit rocky — giving up a hit, a walk, and a hard smash that Rio Ruiz turned into an out — he emerged with a scoreless inning. Also debuting in that game were No. 23 prospect Tyler Nevin, part of last year’s Mychal Givens trade return, who went 0-for-2 with a run scored; and No. 7 prospect Jordan Westburg, the 30th overall pick in the 2020 draft, who was a defensive replacement at both shortstop and third base. Jahmai Jones, the Orioles’ No. 19 prospect and Alex Cobb trade return, has come off the bench in both games so far.

And there are still more prospects to come this spring. The Orioles’ top two position-player prospects, Adley Rutschman and Heston Kjerstad, are both part of the camp reserve roster but have yet to play a Grapefruit League game. The same is true for Gunnar Henderson (No. 6), Terrin Vavra (No. 14), and Adam Hall (No. 16). When you include prospects already on the 40-man roster, including Ryan Mountcastle, Keegan Akin, Dean Kremer, Yusniel Diaz, and Rylan Bannon, there’s a good chance that more than half the Orioles’ top-30 prospect list will end up getting into some exhibition games this spring.

They’re not the only youngsters getting an opportunity. So too are Rule 5 pitchers Tyler Wells and Mac Sceroler, each of whom debuted with a scoreless inning yesterday. Sceroler’s outing was the shakier of the two — he loaded the bases on a hit and two walks before striking out veteran Brad Miller — while Wells looked crisper, retiring three of four hitters. The two face an uphill climb to crack the Orioles’ Opening Day roster, so they’ll need to make every appearance count.

Links

Stewart stands out in 4-4 tie with Phillies - School of Roch
It’s not just prospects trying to make an impression; fringe roster guys like DJ Stewart are also trying to state their case for a place on the team. A thunderous first-inning home run like yesterday’s can’t hurt.

Keegan Akin makes pitch for consistency in second season with Orioles - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Akin, with just eight MLB games under his belt, is already showing the ropes to guys like Lowther, Michael Baumann, and other prospects. Who says only grizzled 10-year veterans can be mentors?

Zimmermann eager for ‘2nd debut’ with fans - Orioles.com
One of the countless bummers of the COVID-ravaged 2020 season is that rookies making their MLB debuts didn’t get to invite any friends or family, which is especially cruel for a guy playing for his hometown team. Hopefully Bruce Zimmermann will get a second chance at that experience in 2021.

Trey Mancini tells his story of struggle and strength – The Athletic
Do yourself a favor and take the time to read this definitive oral history of Trey Mancini’s, well, entire life up to this point. Good luck not tearing up when you get to the Mo Gaba section.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! You have five Orioles birthday buddies, including 2013-15 right-hander Bud Norris (36), 2001-07 slugger Jay Gibbons (44), and early-’90s third baseman Leo Gomez (55). Also born on this day were two outfielders from the 1950s Orioles, the late Cal Abrams (b. 1924, d. 1997) and Joe Taylor (b. 1926, d. 1993).

At spring training on this date in 2018, manager Buck Showalter tried to spark the struggling Chris Davis by penciling him into the leadoff spot, somewhere he’d never batted in his big league career. Haha, just one of those weird spring training experiments, we all thought...until Davis batted leadoff in five more exhibition games and then the first five games of the regular season. In those five real games, Davis went 1-for-20 out of the No. 1 spot. Not exactly a table setter.