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Wright among trio of O's dark-horse candidates

Lefty Cortes, catcher Wynns also vying for roster spots
MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

SARASOTA, Fla. -- It's almost time. With the Orioles set to officially open their Grapefruit League season on Friday against the Rays at 1:05 p.m. at Ed Smith Stadium, it's never too early to start looking at who may heard north come Opening Day. While much of the roster is decided, there will be intriguing competition before the regular season begins.

In advance of the O's spring home opener against the Rays, which will see rotation hopeful Mike Wright Jr. get the ball, here are a few dark-horse picks -- guys who aren't locks, but could definitely still make the team in the right scenario.

SARASOTA, Fla. -- It's almost time. With the Orioles set to officially open their Grapefruit League season on Friday against the Rays at 1:05 p.m. at Ed Smith Stadium, it's never too early to start looking at who may heard north come Opening Day. While much of the roster is decided, there will be intriguing competition before the regular season begins.

In advance of the O's spring home opener against the Rays, which will see rotation hopeful Mike Wright Jr. get the ball, here are a few dark-horse picks -- guys who aren't locks, but could definitely still make the team in the right scenario.

-- Orioles Spring Training info

RHP Wright
How he makes it: A week ago, Wright probably wouldn't have been a dark-horse pick so much as penciled him onto the roster. But the addition of Andrew Cashner and Chris Tillman to the rotation has made it a tougher competition. Still, Wright is out of options and will get every chance to show he deserves to win the fifth spot.

What it could mean for the roster: If Wright does claim the final rotation spot, it would mean the O's don't have any lefties in their starting five. It could also force Gabriel Ynoa -- who is out of options -- to be the odd man out. while Rule 5 Draft picks Jose Mesa and Pedro Araujo could see their roster chances diminished.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

LHP Nestor Cortes Jr.
How he makes it: Cortes is a lefty, which the O's badly need and Cortes, who is being looked at as a starter, could just as easily slot in the bullpen to avoid the Orioles having to return him to the Yankees.

What it could mean for the roster: If Cortes makes the rotation, obviously that would impact Wright, along with Ynoa and Miguel Castro). All three can't go into the bullpen, so it would certainly have a ripple effect. It could also cost Donnie Hart his spot as the lefty in the 'pen to go along with Richard Bleier.

C Austin Wynns
How he makes it: The Orioles' catching situation isn't as locked down as it may seem. The organization likes Wynns and the job he can do as they continue to prioritize defense behind the plate.

What it could mean for the roster: If Wynns makes it along with veteran Caleb Joseph, it means top catching prospect Chance Sisco still needs time to develop at Triple-A. That's not the worst scenario for the O's, who are trying to get out of the practice of promoting guys out of need. If Sisco is going to make the Opening Day roster, he's going to have to show he's ready.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

Baltimore Orioles, Mike Wright Jr., Nestor Cortes Jr., Austin Wynns