Good morning, Birdland!
The abbreviated spring training is already starting to wind down. With just a week left in camp, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde and GM Mike Elias are getting a clearer picture of what their squad will look like to begin the 2022 season. Unsurprisingly, it will not be dotted with many of the organization’s exciting young players.
The latest round of cuts saw the O’s option DL Hall, Kyle Bradish, and Yusniel Diaz to Triple-A. The day before that they sent out Terrin Vavra and Kevin Smith. Adley Rutschman is currently on the shelf with a minor arm injury, and there is no indication that Grayson Rodriguez is going to earn an elevation to the 40-man roster anytime soon.
It won’t come as a surprise to many (any?) Orioles’ fans that the team is going to wait a while longer before they promote any of their intriguing young players. Some of these moves are defensible. Hall, Diaz and Vavra are coming off of injuries. Smith struggled in Triple-A. But others aren’t, and it is evidence that whatever incentives MLB believes they added in the latest round of CBA negotiations to curb tanking and cut down on service time manipulation clearly was not enough.
Keeping Rutschman down right now is understandable. He is hurt, and there is no reason to rush a player back for a team is going to stink. But that doesn’t excuse them from not promoting him sometime last summer, when he was crushing Triple-A pitchers and the Orioles were sporting the worst catching group in MLB.
Something similar can be said for Kyle Bradish. The 25-year-old spent almost all of 2021 in Norfolk, put up compelling numbers, and looked entirely ready for the big leagues in his spring cameo. Instead, the Orioles will go with a rotation that, once again, consists of John Means followed by a bunch of question marks.
In the long run, this strategy is likely the right one for the Orioles organization. It will prolong their ability to compete with these players in tow, and that’s fine. But it remains a detriment to the players, who have done everything right and yet still have to wait out the clock until their arrival is most convenient for the parent club.
When might O’s top prospects debut in ‘22? | Orioles.com
Many of the Orioles’ big-name youngsters are going to be in Baltimore at some point this summer. It just doesn’t seem like that is going to happen right away. Rutschman’s injury removed the awkwardness that would have come with demoting him to begin the season. Once he is deemed healthy, it should just be a matter of weeks before he becomes the team’s everyday backstop.
DL Hall lights up gun in impressive spring outing | Steve Melewski
This is semi-old news at this point, but man, Hall was impressive. Pitchers with that kind of stuff are rare, especially from the left side. Who knows if his body will allow him to be a starter long term, but at the very least the Orioles have a multi-inning weapon on their hands with Hall.
Roster projection: Latest cuts minimize possibilities for prospects | The Baltimore Sun
Looking at the projected roster reminds me that yes, the Orioles are going to be quite bad again this season. The biggest issue remains the starting pitching. It’s a disaster. But somehow it is a significant step forward from where the team was a year ago. Even so, this is likely to be one of the five worst “rotations” in the sport, and I am annoyed that Elias never added another veteran arm to at least feign at trotting out a competitive group.
2022 Positional Power Rankings: Second Base | FanGraphs
FanGraphs is working through their annual position group rankings this week. The Orioles, expectedly, do not fare well at second base, where Rougned Odor is the projected starter. There is no clear heir apparent at that position just yet for the Orioles, although someone like Jordan Westburg or Connor Norby may change that within the next year. For now, I would love to see Vavra bounce back from injury and take this role by season’s end.
Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!
No current or former Orioles players were born on this day, but some non-baseball celebrities were. That includes musicians Eric Clapton (b. 1945), MC Hammer (1962), Tracy Chapman (1964), and Celine Dion (1968).
This day in O’s history
2011 - Major League Baseball selects two people to participate in the experimental “MLB Fan Cave” in New York City. That includes 25-year-old Orioles fan Ryan Wagner from Baltimore, who would go on to become the Orioles public address announcer for the following decade.