Orioles set 2022 Opening Day roster

April 6th, 2022

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Orioles have set their 28-man Opening Day roster for Friday's tilt with the Rays at Tropicana Field, and on it is a laundry list of individuals receiving their first honor.

Most notable among that group are right-hander Mike Baumann, ranked as the club's No. 13 prospect by MLB Pipeline, who pitched his way into contention, righty Félix Bautista, the No. 30 prospect who is perhaps the biggest surprise add, and catcher Anthony Bemboom, who, at 32 years old and and after nine professional seasons, earned the happiest conversation from manager Brandon Hyde. Outfielder Ryan McKenna, infielder Kelvin Gutierrez, and pitchers Keegan Akin, Bryan Baker and Joey Krehbiel are also first-time inclusions.

Among those who missed out: infielders Tyler Nevin and Ritchie Martin, catchers Jacob Nottingham and Beau Taylor, and right-handers Spenser Watkins, Chris Ellis and Travis Lakins Sr.

The O's went with a 14-position player, 14-pitcher split after initially hinting at carrying 15 pitchers to open the season. MLB had announced that teams are able to carry 28 players (29 for doubleheaders), up from 26, from Opening Day through May 1, and with no limit on how many pitchers can be carried though that date. However, rosters will revert to 26 players on May 2, with a 13-pitcher maximum.

Here is how the Orioles will look on Friday, though Hyde acknowledged waiver claims and/or depth signings could still move things around:

Unfortunately for and baseball fans alike, the Majors' No. 2 prospect was never a sure thing to make the Opening Day roster, especially after he sustained a right triceps strain when camp opened. Until Rutschman is called up for his MLB debut, Chirinos will handle the lion’s share of starting reps and Bemboom, picked partly due to platoon possibilities as a left-handed bat, owns the second catching spot. Nottingham and Taylor are expected to remain in the organization for depth.

First base (1):
Just missed out:

For the first time at big league camp, Mountcastle was tasked with just one position, finding an air of comfort by focusing on first base this spring. could get some reps here, too, but he has been focusing more on outfield and designated hitter duties. Nevin was an interesting candidate, impressing with the bat and earning rave reviews for his flexibility in playing multiple positions, but he will start the season at Triple-A Norfolk.

Second base (1): 
Just missed out: ,

It’ll be interesting to see where the Orioles turn, exactly, for playing time at second and the infield in general, save for first base. But Owings, who made the club as a non-roster invite, figures to take the majority of reps at second whenever opponents start a lefty. Second base is Odor’s natural position, and he was part of three Major League deals Baltimore inked this offseason, but he might be destined to more of a bench or matchup-based role. All told, second base could be a litmus test for how inventive the O’s get this season.

Shortstop (1): Jorge Mateo
Just missed out:

One of the biggest spark plugs on the roster, Mateo ran with the shortstop job this spring, though he may also find himself at second from time to time. Ramón Urías appeared to be his biggest competition for short, along with Owings, and the trio could move all around the diamond (and bench) dependent on matchups. Martin, too, had a nice spring, but Hyde said the 27-year-old needs at-bats at Triple-A before he returns to the Majors.

Third base (1): Urías

Urías can play across the infield, but plugging him at third might give the O’s their most well-rounded infield -- on both sides of the ball. He’ll take the regular place of Gutierrez, who had a very nice spring and could split time at the hot corner after starting down the stretch in 2021.

Outfield (3): , ,
Backups: , , Mancini
Just missed out: , ,

The most set of any position on the Orioles' roster, the outfield has the chance to really find its footing in 2022. After Hays battled some minor nicks last season -- and Santander some of the more major variety -- Baltimore hopes the trio can find cohesion roaming the grass as a unit, led by Mullins and his sensational '21. Mancini will get time here, too.

Perhaps one of the biggest roster surprises is that both McKenna and Stewart made the cut, beneficiaries of Baltimore carrying just 14 pitchers. Prospects like Stowers and Díaz had varying springs, and each could be a quick callup for Major League debuts.

Designated hitter (1): Mancini
Backup: Stewart

While his name swirls around in trade rumors, Mancini is likely to see the majority of his playing time at designated hitter, though he has gotten some opportunities in the outfield this spring. He also has played 225 career games at first. He’ll be joined here in a rotation that includes Santander, Mountcastle and Stewart, who was slowed in camp by a left hand contusion.

Bench/utility (4): Odor, McKenna, Stewart, Gutierrez
Just missed out: Nevin, Martin, Stowers, Díaz, Jones, Vavra, Neustrom, , Patrick Dorrian

The bench appeared to be the place where the O's could give some of their prospects a chance to crack the roster, but as has been the case through this rebuild, the organization prefers constant playing time in the Minors, with development at the forefront. With that in mind, the bench -- at least to start the season -- will feature experienced players whose development hinges less around consistent time, as well as a few who could sneak into semi-regular playing time based on matchups. McKenna will serve as the O's most likely late-game defensive replacement in the outfield.

No, the club will not feature a seven-man rotation. Locks are Means, Lyles, Wells and Zimmermann -- in that order -- which gives Baltimore-area native Zimmermann the nod for the home opener. Behind them remains a "TBD," as Hyde put it, presenting some combination of Kremer, Akin and Baumann an opportunity to get innings, depending how the season opens. One of those three is slated to follow Wells in a piggyback role. Starting pitching should involve the highest degree of creativity in 2022.

Prospects Rodriguez (No. 2), Hall (No. 5), Bradish (No. 10) and Lowther (No. 27) were earlier cuts in camp, with Rodriguez and Lowther starting at Triple-A, while Hall and Bradish remain in Florida for extended spring and build-up.

The bullpen was thrown for a loop when the O's traded Cole Sulser and Tanner Scott -- their likely eighth- and ninth-inning arms -- to the Marlins. The move caused uncertainty for late-game situations, but Baltimore hopes it opens up more opportunity for other arms to step up. Such candidates include Fry, Tate and López, all of whom are in the mix for high-leverage innings. Pérez and Baker became locks after great springs, and the shifting opened the door for Krehbiel and Bautista to earn their first Opening Day roster spots. Truthfully, some combo of Akin, Baumann and Kremer could wind up in the bullpen, depending on how the club proceeds with starter usage.