Only three weeks remain until the Baltimore Orioles take the field for Opening Day. General Manager Dan Duquette has made a few recent signings that will make the Opening Day roster, and some believe that the team isn’t done yet.
However, a few positional battles still need to be answered over the final three weeks of spring training. Who will be the Orioles fifth starter? How many outfielders will they keep and which ones? Who will be the backup to Caleb Joseph? Who rounds out the bullpen?
Fans of the Orioles know to expect the unexpected. Keeping that in mind, let’s take a shot at projecting the Orioles’ Opening Day 25-man roster.
Setting The Infield For The Baltimore Orioles
1B- Chris Davis
2B- Jonathan Schoop
3B- Tim Beckham
UT- Danny Valencia
No real surprises here. After Valencia signed last week, BaltimoreBaseball.com’s Dan Connolly asked him if he would accept an assignment to the minor leagues. Valencia responded with, “I have nothing to prove down there.” Through three games down in Sarasota, Valencia is 4-9 with three doubles, a home run, and three runs scored. He can play third, first, and multiple outfield positions, providing the versatility Baltimore needs. Unfortunately, for guys like Luis Sardinas, Garabez Rosa, Ruben Tejada, and Engelb Vielma, the competition for the utility infield job appears over.
Colby Rasmus To Join Baltimore Orioles Outfield
LF- Trey Mancini
OF- Colby Rasmus
OF/DH- Mark Trumbo
OF- Anthony Santander
With the shoulder injury to Austin Hays, I don’t expect him to make the initial 25-man roster. Colby Rasmus, who returned to baseball on a minor league deal with the Orioles, is a proven veteran with experience against American League East pitching. Buck Showalter loves Santander’s bat and will allow him to finish out his required major league service time after being a Rule-5 pick last year. Left-hander Alex Presley is hitting .300 with the Orioles this spring and will get a serious look, but he will have to beat out Craig Gentry.
The Last Spot
There’s still one more spot available for an infielder or outfielder. That last spot could come down to Presley, Gentry, and Sardinas. The Orioles lack depth in the middle of the infield. Sardinas has been playing very well this spring and provides speed and the ability to play every position on the field, except catcher. It’s no secret that Showalter loves Gentry. Other than pitching, the Orioles emphasized the need to add a left-handed hitting outfielder to the roster all offseason long. They did that by signing Alex Presley and Colby Rasmus, but only after signing Craig Gentry first. Gentry makes the 25-man with his ability to change the game in late-inning situations.
Will A Surprise Prospect Make The Team At Catcher?
Chance Sisco deserves the job, however, the Orioles want him to continue working on his defense in AAA. I don’t agree, but I understand. Wynns is a defense-first catcher who was added to the 40-man this winter to protect him from the Rule-5 draft. Despite being an above-average defender, his bat came around with AA Bowie last season. He hit .281 with a .377 OBP while contributing 30 extra-base hits (10 home runs). With no reason to repeat AA, and no playing time available in AAA, making the major league roster makes sense.
Can The Pitching Staff Improve For The Baltimore Orioles?
Wright has pitched very well this spring and is out of options. Gabriel Ynoa has imploded in his two starts, and no one else seems to have stepped up to challenge Wright. Wright is making adjustments to his pitches that have been effective, up to this point. He will get a shot, but be placed on a very short leash. For a more in-depth look at Wright’s spring, you can check this piece out.
Will The Bullpen Return As A Strength?
Araujo, a Rule-5 draft pick from the Cubs, is a high-strikeout starter-turned-reliever who possesses an above average fastball and a plus-curveball. He found success after making the transition to the bullpen and has pitched three scoreless frames this spring. The Orioles can’t keep four Rule-5 players on the roster, so Jose Mesa, Jr. will more than likely head back to the Yankees (5 runs allowed in 3.2 innings this spring). Araujo will stay because of his massive upside, while Cortes remains as the spot-starter, long-reliever after losing out on the final rotation spot to Wright.
What do you all think? Anyone else you believe deserves a spot on the 25-man roster?