Top prospect Diaz looks to break camp with O's

February 16th, 2019

SARASOTA, Fla. -- A lot has to go right for Yusniel Diaz to crack the Orioles' Opening Day roster. But the Orioles' No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline isn't letting that impede his plans to compete for a spot anyway.

"That is the ultimate reason for being here," Diaz said through team translator Ramon Alarcon, shortly after arriving at Ed Smith Stadium on Saturday. "The whole purpose of me being here is to try and make the team from the very beginning."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Consider it a confident opening statement from Diaz, the prize of last year's trade. The reality is, though, his chances are slim. To head north with the club in late March, Diaz would have to leapfrog a host of outfielders already on the 40-man roster and erase the pedestrian first impression he made at Double-A Bowie, where he slumped to hit .239 with a .732 OPS after the trade.

Those numbers came in stark contrast to the .314/.428/.477 line he posted with the Dodgers' Double-A affiliate prior. The Orioles also have little financial incentive for starting his service time clock early, thereby sacrificing a year of team control should Diaz break camp with the big league club.

More likely is the club giving Diaz as long a look as any blue-chipper in the fold, then sending him to Triple-A Norfolk with hopes of summoning him later this summer. Diaz could always accelerate that timetable, though, with a stellar showing in Grapefruit League play.

"I see more opportunities here," Diaz said. "I'm very excited about that, happy I'm here and I'm trying to take advantage of that opportunity."

Chill vibes

For one of the more curious sights of the spring's first week, players in Orioles camp need look no further than the clubhouse door. That's where reliever , assigned to a corner locker near the entrance, has taken an unusual approach to relaxing in between drills and workouts.

Most clubhouses in Major League stadiums come with community-style couches and chairs, but the Orioles' spring complex doesn't feature such amenities. So Castro has little choice but to do his napping on the floor.

"I do it to kill time," said Castro, who wakes up at 5:30 a.m. and reports to Ed Smith Stadium shortly after. "It's a change of schedule compared to the regular season."

By the time 9 a.m. rolls around, there is Castro, sometimes laying face down with his headphones on, his 6-foot-7 frame occasionally jutting out into the walkway. It doesn't look comfortable, but Castro says he's become accustomed to occasionally sleeping on the floor. The flat surface even helps his posture, he says.

But if the Orioles' clubhouse had a couch, Castro said things would be different.

"I would choose the couch," he said with a grin.

New arrivals

In addition to Diaz, No. 2 prospect was part of the wave of new arrivals to stream into Ed Smith Stadium on Saturday, a day before position players were required to report to camp. , and were also among those to appear, leaving just a handful of Orioles players unaccounted for. Of those remaining, all but and are scheduled to report Sunday. Sucre (visa issues) and Infante (illness), both non-roster invitees, remain in their native Venezuela for the time being.

Opener plans

As part of their spring promotional schedule -- announced this week in full -- the Orioles plan to honor their 1,000,000th fan at Ed Smith Stadium over the first three games of the Grapefruit League schedule. The fan will be chosen at random and awarded a package that includes a $5,000 shopping experience at Diamond Vault in Sarasota and two Spring Training tickets for five years.

The club also announced plans to continue its long-standing tradition of providing all fans in attendance on Opening Day with a spring schedule magnet, presented by Visit Sarasota. Additionally, the first 1,000 female fans (ages 15 and over) in attendance will receive a Birds of Paradise flower, courtesy of Beneva Flowers. The Orioles open Grapefruit League play Feb. 23 vs. the Twins.