This article is part of the Know Your Orioles 40-man series, which features an article about each of the 38 players currently on the Orioles roster. There will be one every weekday until we run out of players.
The Orioles have struggled to convert internal options into successful major league infielders so far in the Mike Elias era. The cabinets were relatively empty when Elias came to town, and constructing an infield does not happen overnight. Ryan Mountcastle cannot play every position— trust me, the Orioles have tried.
The Orioles do have three infielders in their current Top 10 prospects according to FanGraphs; Gunnar Henderson, Coby Mayo and Jordan Westburg should all develop into legitimate ball players someday. Unfortunately, FanGraphs does not anticipate the arrival of the trio until 2024.
FanGraphs does project that Terrin Vavra, the Orioles’ 11th best prospect, could arrive by the end of this coming season. Vavra may not have cracked the top 10 this year, but there are still plenty of things to like about the 24-year-old.
The Orioles acquired Vavra from the Rockies in a deal that sent Mychal Givens to Colorado. The Orioles also received fellow 40-man roster occupant Tyler Nevin and prospect Mishael Deson in the
robbery deal. Givens struggled for the remainder of the 2020 season before being shipped to Cincinnati in 2021.
Vavra slashed .248/.388/.430 over 40 games at Bowie last season but was hampered by back and hip injuries. Still, Vavra quickly developed a reputation as one of the most productive hitters in Baltimore’s system.
Vavra came to the organization with a strong track record of hitting in the minors. He slashed .318/.409/.489 over 102 games in the South Atlantic League in 2019 after posting a .302/.396/.468 line in his first season of pro ball.
The Rockies drafted Vavra in the third round of the 2018 draft. Vavra exploded during his junior year at Minnesota to the tune of a .386/.455/.614 slash line. His performance was enough to win over Colorado and eventually the Orioles.
FanGraphs states that Vavra likely lacks the power to develop into an impact player, but no one can discount his ability to put the ball in play. Vavra boasts above average speed and has demonstrated the ability to take a walk. He’s played mostly second base, but can handle himself at short. The Orioles also gave him innings in center field last season.
Vavra looks like a major leaguer. Whether that’s in a utility role or a permanent spot at second remains to be seen, but it’s fair to get excited about his potential. His all-fields approach should results in plenty of doubles, and he appears poised to bring a boost to a team long starved in the on-base category.
Vavra does not need to be concerned with the other highly-ranked infield prospects in the system. He will have an opportunity to carve out a role before any of the others arrive in Baltimore. That is, if he can stay healthy.
End of season prediction: Injuries cut into a crucial year of development for Vavra after COVID wiped out the minors in 2020. Vavra’s shortened 2021 will likely cause him to start this season back at Bowie. A hot start could result in a quick promotion to Norfolk, but the Orioles will likely want to see sustained success at Triple-A before promoting the 24-year-old.
Vavra ranks highly enough in the system for the Orioles to baby him a bit in his development. Injuries or a dip in production could lead the club to take things slow, and it’s extremely possible that he waits to make his debut until 2023.
Vavra will certainly remain in the organization, but I’ve got him stuck in Triple-A at the end of the year. I see the O’s hesitating to pull the trigger after any bump in the road, but Vavra should be worth the wait.
Previously: Félix Bautista, Logan Gillaspie, Isaac Mattson, Cionel Pérez, Bryan Baker, Rougned Odor, Joey Krehbiel, Tyler Nevin, Kyle Bradish, Rylan Bannon, Yusniel Díaz, Kelvin Gutiérrez, Kevin Smith
Tomorrow: D.L. Hall