Left-handed hitter, pitching depth atop wish list

Even after making splash, Duquette still searching for pieces during camp

February 16th, 2018

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Orioles may have just begun their offseason shopping. On the heels of Thursday's acquisition of starting pitcher , executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said Friday that he's still looking for pitching and a left-handed hitter to add to camp.

"The good news is we have some prospect depth throughout the organization that should be able to help us during the season, and also help us with some trades," Duquette said, noting the organization's improvement in its Minor League system. "But this time of year, obviously, I'd rather be adding players without taking away from them, our prospect depth. That would be the first choice. That would be the best choice for the club."

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Duquette stated that he feels like the free-agent market may continue to pick up steam over the weekend, and the O's will continue to monitor that front as well as potential trades.

With the O's featuring a right-handed-heavy lineup, the most logical place to add a left-handed batter may be in the outfield. Such a move could make the outfield competition crowded, but give the Orioles a weapon against right-handed starters. Right now, the only everyday player who bats exclusively left-handed is Chris Davis (though catching prospect is a lefty bat that has a chance to make the club).

"We're still in the market for that left-handed hitter, although we can take a look at the kid we picked up from the A's, the kid from BYU, ," Duquette said. "Take a look at [outfield prospect] DJ Stewart."

Stewart has opportunity to impress

Stewart is looking to make the most of his spring as a non-roster invitee.

"I wasn't expecting anything. I was grateful for the opportunity, and really excited when I found out I was coming," Stewart said. "It's always nice when you do yourself and get rewarded for the things that you do. But you can't be complacent. It's still a job, I still have to go out there and work. That's what I'm looking to do every single day."

While fellow outfield prospect garnered most of the headlines -- his season resulted in a September callup -- Stewart had a breakout year of his own. The 25th overall pick in the 2015 Draft, Stewart bounced back after a disappointing first full season in 2016.

He posted career highs at Double-A Bowie with a .278 average, 220 total bases, 26 doubles, 21 home runs and 79 RBIs, while striking out only 87 times in 457 at-bats. The Florida State product finished fifth in the organization in long balls, fourth in RBIs and tied for fourth with 20 stolen bases.

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"I think I just got back to being who I was," Stewart said. "And the older you get, the more mature you become, and just staying within myself, and not trying to do too much, and try to put [aside] the name and title of where I was drafted. [I was] just going out there and relaxing and having fun again, and I had a successful season."

Ranked No. 18 among O's prospects by MLB Pipeline, Stewart said he's learned the pitfalls of being too eager to succeed.

"Your first impression is a lasting impression, so I wanted to do everything I could for everyone to know who I was. And I think I put that in my head a little bit too much," Stewart said. "So [this past year] kind of going back to the basics, and just being DJ. That's all I can do to be successful for myself."

Minors staff announced

The Orioles announced their seven Minor League coaches on Friday, with many holdovers along with the managerial debut of former O's farmhand Buck Britton at Class A Delmarva.

Britton is the older brother of Orioles closer Zach Britton, and joins a Minor League coaching crew that includes Triple-A Norfolk's Ron Johnson -- the winningest manager in Tides history -- Double-A Bowie's Gary Kendall, and Class A Advanced Frederick Key's Ryan Minor, who was promoted from Delmarva.

"A lot of guys from his background make good coaches, managers because he's a guy that everybody trusted, liked to have on their club," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Buck Britton.

"They fought to have him on their club because of all the intangibles he brought and can still bring. He's going to be a good manager. There's no job beneath him. ... I don't think he'll change from the player he was. He was a guy you liked having around. He was inquisitive, had a nice presentation. He was a guy you'd love to see guys follow and emulate."

Kevin Bradshaw enters his third season as manager of the Aberdeen IronBirds. Carlos Tosca, a former big league manager, returns for his second season as the O's Gulf Coast League manager. Elvis Morel will manage the Dominican Summer League Orioles.

Josh Wasdin returns for a second year as Minor League pitching coordinator, while Jeff Manto (fifth season) will return as Minor League hitting coordinator.

As expected, director of player development Brian Graham returns, as does director of Minor League operations Kent Qualls. Scott McGregor will be the pitching rehab coordinator.

Worth noting

• Britton, who is on the 60-day disabled list, could return as early as May 28, Showalter said.

• Cashner, who passed a physical Thursday, is expected to return to camp on Sunday and participate in Monday's first full-squad workout. With Cashner's addition, the O's won't eliminate any of their current eight starters from competition this spring.

• Stewart, and Davis were among the position players who reported early to camp on Friday.

• Former Oriole Brian Roberts will be a 105.7 The Fan radio analyst in select games.