Breaking down O's potential outfielders

Orioles still have multiple options leading up to Opening Day

March 8th, 2019

SARASOTA, Fla. -- According to manager Brandon Hyde, the Orioles are still “a ways away from figuring out what our outfield situation is.” More questions than answers remain with nearly a fortnight left to spring.

Part of that is by design. The other part is how well so many competing for outfield roles have played. Hyde was joking when he said “maybe we’ll carry 10 [outfielders on the Opening Day roster]” recently, but his point was plain to see.

Let’s break down where the hottest competition of Orioles camp stands entering Friday.

(This projection does not include , the club’s one ostensible lock in the outfield and starting left fielder. But Mancini may be asked to move temporarily should first baseman Chris Davis or DH Mark Trumbo begin the year on the injured list. The potential ripple effects of that would impact several players currently fighting for jobs.)


Roster status: On 40-man, with options

Spring stats: .333/.391/.524, 2 2B, 3B, 2 BB, 4 SO, SB

Odds for Opening Day: Good

Why? Rickard isn’t the oldest or most experienced outfielder in the fold by service time, but his 275 games with the Orioles make him the organization’s longest tenured player in this mix. That alone gave him a leg up entering camp, and he’s done nothing to squander it. He’s consistently batted in the middle of Hyde’s orders and played well defensively.

Roster status: On 40-man, with options

Spring stats: .167/.259/.375, HR, 3 SB

Odds for Opening Day: Good

Why? Mullins arrived in Florida the ostensible starting center fielder and with a capable 45-game Major League cameo last summer, and it’s still probably his job to lose. But Hyde was given a chance this week to name Mullins as such and stopped short of doing so, which speaks to the 24-year-old’s quiet spring thus far. At this juncture, though, it still sounds like Mullins has the inside track.

“It’s fair to say he’ll get every opportunity to be the center fielder, but I can’t say in cement he’s going to be our Opening Day center fielder,” Hyde said. “He’s going to get every opportunity to win the job.”


Roster status: On 40-man, with options

Spring stats: .200/.286/.360, 4 2B, 0 HR, 2 BB, 8 SO, SB

Odds for Opening Day: Trending down

Why? Four of Stewart’s five spring hits have gone for extra bases, but he’s yet to flash the speed or on-base skills he has at various points in the Minor Leagues. From a production standpoint, Stewart has fallen to the back of a pack of outfielders all chomping at the bit for roles. That could change, but he’s simply been outplayed so far this spring.

Roster status: On 40-man, with options

Spring stats: .476/.522/1.000, 5 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 21 total bases (team-high)

Odds for Opening Day: Trending up

Why? Power, plain and simple. That was the tool that originally prompted the Orioles to take a flier on Santander as a Rule 5 pick two years ago, but he’s shown little of it at the Major League level. Now 24, Santander is getting another chance, and seizing it. Seven of his 10 hits this spring have gone for extra bases, including two tape-measure home runs in his last two starts. Will that be enough? Who knows. But the switch-hitter has essentially swung himself into the roster conversation, particularly if Trumbo (knee) isn’t ready for Opening Day.


Roster status: On 40-man, with options

Spring stats: .286/.318/.667, 3B, 2 HR

Odds for Opening Day: Moderate

Why? Months removed from complicated ankle surgery, Hays arrived in camp coming off a lost year, hoping to prove he’s healthy again. Mission accomplished. Hays’ ankle has passed every test, whether it’s at the plate, on the basepaths or in center field, where he’s played regularly. He’ll have to keep it up, but if he does, it’s not hard to see him heading north in a reserve role.

Player: Yusniel Diaz

Roster status: Non-roster invite

Spring stats: .393/.393/.607, 3 2B, HR, 6 RBI

Odds for Opening Day: Poor

Why? It has nothing do with his numbers; Diaz has been one of the Grapefruit League’s most productive hitters this spring. The Orioles simply don’t have much incentive to carry their No. 1 prospect north with them on Opening Day, and that won’t change no matter what the next few weeks entail. Diaz is almost guaranteed to start the year at Double-A, where he struggled in a small sample last summer. But he’ll do so having left a strong spring impression.

Player: Eric Young Jr.

Roster status: Non-roster invite

Spring stats: .294/.455/.529, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, 4 BB, 5 SO, SB

Odds for Opening Day: Unlikely

Why? Still quick at age 33, Young was brought in on a Minor League deal mainly because those wheels make him capable insurance in center field, where, with Hays an offseason question mark, the Orioles’ depth was thin behind Mullins. Young still qualifies as such, and has shown there is something left in the tank by playing well this spring. But he’ll have to leapfrog a glut of 40-man outfielders to make the team, and likely begins the year at Triple-A unless the Orioles decide some combination of Hays, Santander, Mullins all need more seasoning.