BALTIMORE -- There is every expectation that the Orioles will add players this spring. But with just days until Spring Training officially begins -- pitchers and catchers report on Tuesday -- there's no time like the present to start making predictions. Specifically, who will head north with the big league
BALTIMORE -- There is every expectation that the Orioles will add players this spring. But with just days until Spring Training officially begins -- pitchers and catchers report on Tuesday -- there's no time like the present to start making predictions. Specifically, who will head north with the big league team.
Here are MLB.com's preseason predictions using only the players currently in the organization and employing a traditional seven-man bullpen and four-man bench to start the season. (The O's have been creative in previous years with roster makeup coming out of camp.)
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Here's an early look:
Catchers (2): Caleb Joseph, Chance Sisco
Certainly this could change if the O's don't feel that Sisco is ready. But Joseph did a nice job bouncing back at the plate last year, and they also have Austin Wynns as a solid option.
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First base (1): Chris Davis
Trey Mancini provides a more than capable backup here as well.
Second base (1): Jonathan Schoop
Whoever wins the utility job will back up Schoop.
Third base (1): Timothy Beckham
Beckham will move over for Manny Machado, who will play shortstop this season, giving the O's a nice boost up the middle.
Shortstop (1): Manny Machado
Obviously Beckham can also back up Machado, and the O's utility infielder will be a competition for this spring. Watching Machado will be fun in his final year under team control.
Utility (1): Luis Sardinas and Ruben Tejada seem to be the main candidates for the utility spot right now, though other options could emerge later in camp. Sardinas is seen as more defensive-minded, giving him the slight edge at the position heading into Spring Training.
Outfield (6): Adam Jones, Mancini, Mark Trumbo, Anthony Santander, Austin Hays, Craig Gentry
Trumbo is expected to be the primary designated hitter with Santander -- a Rule 5 Draft pick who has to make the team -- an interesting name to watch. Hays could get bumped to Triple-A to start the season if the O's do add the left-handed bat that they desire. Joey Rickard and Jaycob Brugman will also be in the mix with at least one spot up for grabs this spring.
Starters (5):Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, Miguel Castro, Gabriel Ynoa, Mike Wright Jr.
All that's known is Bundy and Gausman up top, with three question marks looming large for the Orioles. Castro and Ynoa held their own in auditions down the stretch, though certainly each will have to show improvement this spring if the O's are going to have a chance to compete. (Castro, who worked out of the 'pen, will also have to show he can hold up as a starter.)
Wright is out of options and is an interesting case. A power arm, the organization seems split on whether he's best suited in the bullpen. Either way, he's our pick for now -- though the O's are almost assured to add another arm or two to create some rotation competition.
Bullpen (7):Brad Brach, Darren O'Day, Mychal Givens, Richard Bleier, Donnie Hart, Nestor Cortes Jr., Stefan Crichton
Brach, O'Day, Givens and Bleier should be penciled in. The rest of the 'pen is largely wide open. The injury to closer Zach Britton -- who is expected to likely miss the first half of the season -- means the O's need another lefty. Right now, that's probably Hart, although the organization had wanted to add one this offseason. Cortes is one of Baltimore's three Rule 5 Draft picks and comes from the Yankees' organization.
The final spot is totally up for grabs, with Jimmy Yacabonis and Crichton two guys who came up at various times last year. Both are righties, so there's no real edge this early. We went with Crichton here, but there's any number of guys who can emerge, especially the O's two other Rule 5 guys, Jose Mesa or Pedro Araujo.