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Mountcastle tries 1B as O's preach versatility

MLB.com

SARASOTA, Fla. -- When Ryan Mountcastle reported to the Orioles' clubhouse this week, surprises awaited on the schedule and in the locker just to his right. Upon arrival, infield coach Jose Flores approached Mountcastle with a directive: move across the diamond. Locker neighbor Chris Davis then lent him a hand.

After all, Mountcastle, a shortstop turned third baseman, hadn't come to Florida with a first baseman's mitt.

SARASOTA, Fla. -- When Ryan Mountcastle reported to the Orioles' clubhouse this week, surprises awaited on the schedule and in the locker just to his right. Upon arrival, infield coach Jose Flores approached Mountcastle with a directive: move across the diamond. Locker neighbor Chris Davis then lent him a hand.

After all, Mountcastle, a shortstop turned third baseman, hadn't come to Florida with a first baseman's mitt.

"My buddy Chris gave me one," Mountcastle said.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

And so it came to be that the Orioles' No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline spent his first official day in big league camp -- and 22nd birthday -- at a foreign position. Taking reps behind Davis at first, Mountcastle became the most high-profile participant yet in the club's grand spring experiment: to expose nearly every player in camp to multiple positions in an attempt to increase their versatility and depth.

Although Mountcastle was back at third base Tuesday, Rio Ruiz, a career third baseman, and Steve Wilkerson, who has played just three Minor League games there, worked out at first. Jace Peterson, predominately a second baseman, took reps with Mountcastle at third. Drew Jackson, an infielder by trade, practiced in the outfield.

"I think you're going to see a lot of movement," O's manager Brandon Hyde said. "Guys are going to be flipped all over the place as we go forward, for sure."

Mountcastle, for his part, is no stranger to moving around. Since he was drafted in 2015 as a shortstop, scouts noted his build and his bat -- and hinted they might suit him better in a corner role. The throwing issues he experienced early on expedited that transition. Mountcastle's cameos at third base began in Rookie ball; by last year, he'd shifted over full time.

"I feel like I did a lot better over there, getting my throws down and my footwork," Mountcastle said of third base. "I feel more confident for sure."

Video: Top Prospects: Ryan Mountcastle, 3B, Orioles

At third, the former first-round pick's throwing problems dissipated somewhat but not completely. The 12 errors he committed in 81 games at Double-A last year had the former O's front office pondering a move for Mountcastle to the outfield. For now, that possibility has been put on hold.

"We really want him to focus on his defense in the infield ... with new coaches and some new ideas, hopefully he gets comfortable," Hyde said. "He's still developing. I want whatever is best for him, whichever helps him gets to the big leagues and be a force offensively."

Long his calling card, Mountcastle's bat has remained consistent amid all the defensive changes. The .297/.341/.464 line he posted at Double-A last year means Mountcastle likely begins 2019 at Triple-A Norfolk. He could be in Baltimore as early as this summer, though opportunities at first figure to be limited with Davis, Trey Mancini and Mark Trumbo all in the fold.

Roster move
The Orioles added a left-hander to their bullpen mix, claiming Josh Osich off waivers from the Giants. The club designated infielder Hanser Alberto for assignment in a corresponding move. Originally claimed from the Yankees in January, Alberto could remain with the organization should he clear waivers again.

Osich, 30, pitched to a 5.01 ERA across parts of the past four seasons with San Francisco. Most of his work came as a lefty specialist; lefties have hit just .228 with a .707 OPS against Osich. He becomes the fifth southpaw reliever on the 40-man roster, joining Richard Bleier, Tanner Scott, Paul Fry and Donnie Hart.

Video: SF@LAD: Osich K's Bellinger, strands a runner

Escobar arrives
In camp on a Minor League deal, veteran infielder Alcides Escobar participated in his first workout since signing with the O's over the weekend. He also spoke for the heap of veteran free agents who waited out the winter when asked if he'd be willing to mentor the younger players in Orioles' camp.

"I can help everybody here," Escobar said. "I'm young too, man, I'm only 32."

Food news
The club announced that Orioles Hall of Famer Boog Powell will bring his Boog's BBQ to Ed Smith Stadium for the 2019 Grapefruit League season. This is the first time Boog's, an institution at Oriole Park for nearly three decades, will be made available at the club's Spring Training complex. Fans seeking out the famed menu will find Powell's son, J.W. Powell, operating the stand on the ballpark's left-field pavilion.

Giving back
Mancini, Mychal Givens and Mike Wright Jr. were among the Orioles who took part in the club's annual Health and Fitness Challenge, now in its fourth year. As part of the program, the Orioles hosted a group of students from nearby Booker Middle School at the Ed Smith complex, where they stressed the benefits of healthy eating, tobacco-free living and physical fitness.

Video: Mike Wright Jr. promotes kids' exercise

Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.

Baltimore Orioles, Ryan Mountcastle

Here's your guide to Orioles Spring Training

MLB.com

It'll be a spring of transition in Sarasota, Fla., where the Orioles' camp will be full of new faces.

Here is everything you need to know about O's Spring Training, set to open Tuesday.

It'll be a spring of transition in Sarasota, Fla., where the Orioles' camp will be full of new faces.

Here is everything you need to know about O's Spring Training, set to open Tuesday.

Spring Training: Schedule | Gear | Info | Roster

Pitchers and catchers report date
Tuesday

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

First pitchers and catchers workout
Feb. 13

Full squad report date
Feb. 17

First full-squad workout
Feb. 18

New faces to know
SS Richie Martin, UTL Drew Jackson, INF Rio Ruiz, INF Hanser Alberto, C Jesus Sucre

Top prospects to know
OF Yusniel Diaz, 3B Ryan Mountcastle, RHP Dillon Tate, RHP Hunter Harvey, RHP Dean Kremer, RHP Zac Pop

Where is the facility?
Ed Smith Stadium, 2700 12th St., Sarasota, Fla., 34237

Can fans attend workouts?
Fans can attend backfield workouts and participate in interactive activities from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. ET on Feb. 16 as part of Sarasota SpringFest.

First Grapefruit League game
Feb. 23 vs. Twins (split squad), 1:05 p.m. ET at Ed Smith Stadium

First TV game
N/A

One other notable game
March 24 vs. Pirates (Trey Mancini bobblehead day), 1:05 p.m. ET at Ed Smith Stadium

Last Grapefuit League game
March 25 vs. Mets, 1:05 p.m. ET at Ed Smith Stadium

Any additional exhibitions before the regular season?
No

Opening Day date, time, opponent and location
March 28 vs. Yankees, 1:05 p.m. ET at Yankee Stadium

Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.

Baltimore Orioles

Diaz, Mountcastle among 18 spring invites

MLB.com

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles set the stage Friday for a Spring Training that figures to be rife with competition, officially inviting 18 non-roster players to big league camp.

Top prospects Yusniel Diaz and Ryan Mountcastle headline the group, which also includes fast-rising right-hander Dean Kremer and outfielder Ryan McKenna.

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles set the stage Friday for a Spring Training that figures to be rife with competition, officially inviting 18 non-roster players to big league camp.

Top prospects Yusniel Diaz and Ryan Mountcastle headline the group, which also includes fast-rising right-hander Dean Kremer and outfielder Ryan McKenna.

For the Orioles' new front office, spring will provide initial in-person looks at the talent already in the system they've inherited and vowed to supplement. Diaz, Kremer and Zach Pop, who also received an invite, are prime examples. All were acquired last summer in the Manny Machado trade. Diaz is currently the club's No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline, while Kremer led all Minor League hurlers in strikeouts in 2018.

• Inbox: Why doesn't Hyde have a bench coach?

For others, like Mountcastle, the spring could result in positional clarity. There is debate whether the O's No. 2 prospect remains at third base or shifts to a corner-outfield spot. Like Diaz and McKenna, Mountcastle isn't expected to crack the O's Opening Day roster. But all likely earn big league promotions before summer's end.

Video: Top Prospects: Ryan Mountcastle, 3B, Orioles

Camp will also provide opportunities for several players the O's inked to offseason Minor League deals: Right-handers Bo Schultz and Gregory Infante and catcher Carlos Perez fall into this category.

Also receiving invitations were left-handers Sean Gilmartin and Chris Lee, righties Josh Lucas and Gabriel Ynoa, catchers Martin Cervenka and Andrew Susac, infielders Christopher Bostick, Jace Peterson and Zach Vincej and outfielder Mike Yastrzemski.

Notable prospects not extended big league invitations include left-hander Keegan Akin, the Orioles' reigning co-Minor League Pitcher of the Year, and righty Taylor Grover, whom the club selected in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft.

Pitchers and catchers report to Sarasota, Fla., on Feb. 13.

Minor Leaguer suspended
Orioles rookie-level outfielder Trey Whitley received a 50-game suspension following a failed test for a "drug of abuse," Major League Baseball announced Friday. The Orioles' 28th-round selection in 2018, Whitley hit .160 across 31 games in the Gulf Coast League last summer, his first in professional baseball.

Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.

Baltimore Orioles, Yusniel Diaz

O's have inside info on Rutschman for Draft

Club's No. 9 prospect Grenier was catcher's teammate at OSU
MLB.com

For months now, the Orioles have made no secret how much of their 2019 focus will be poured into three days next June. The O's own the No. 1 pick in the 2019 MLB Draft to be held June 3-5, and with it, they will make a selection that will determine the direction of the franchise for years to come.

What the Orioles do with it remains anyone's guess. That's because with less than six months until the Draft, they are still without a scouting director to run their operation. That doesn't mean, though, they're without intel on the top players available.

For months now, the Orioles have made no secret how much of their 2019 focus will be poured into three days next June. The O's own the No. 1 pick in the 2019 MLB Draft to be held June 3-5, and with it, they will make a selection that will determine the direction of the franchise for years to come.

What the Orioles do with it remains anyone's guess. That's because with less than six months until the Draft, they are still without a scouting director to run their operation. That doesn't mean, though, they're without intel on the top players available.

At this early juncture, an industry consensus more or less exists with regards to the three candidates to go No. 1 overall: Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman, Colleyville (Texas) Heritage High School shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. and California first baseman Andrew Vaughn. If the Orioles have questions about Rutschman, they have the luxury of asking his former teammate, Cadyn Grenier.

Video: Grenier talks about his 1st professional season

Grenier, who was the O's competitive balance pick (No. 37 overall) last June, stumped for Rutschman to join him in the organization while visiting the recent Winter Meetings.

"I'm no professional scout by any means, but I tell everybody I'd love to have Adley with the first pick," said Grenier, ranked as the O's No. 9 prospect by MLB Pipeline. "Rutch is a beast. I can't wait to see what he does this year. I hope to get to play with him again soon."

A defensive-minded shortstop, Grenier formed one of the best up-the-middle tandems in the country with Rutschman for two years at Oregon State, where Grenier hit .319./408/.462 in 68 games as a junior. This while Rutschman, a switch-hitting catcher, broke out with a .408/.505/.628 line last spring as a sophomore, setting school records for hits (102) and RBIs (83). Rutschman claimed Most Outstanding Players honors at the College World Series, after OSU topped Arkansas for the national title.

Video: Callis breaks down top MLB Draft prospect Rutschman

"He does things all the time where you're just like, 'Come on, dude.' His defense behind the plate is incredible. Then add on being a .400 hitter in the Pac-12, being a switch-hitter, the dude is really impressive," Grenier said. "If we had me and him back together, that's a really good middle infield just to start. Throw in the guys I've played with, some of the outfielders, we can create a real good middle of the field."

Whether the Orioles end up doing so will hinge on if they determine that Rutschman is the top talent available, which is possible. College hitters are typically considered safer bets than high school players like Witt, though the O's could end up finding Witt's upside too enticing (for what it's worth, Elias and assistant Sig Mejdal had success drafting both in Houston -- high schooler Carlos Correa from Puerto Rico and LSU star Alex Bregman from the collegiate ranks). That Rutschman plays a premium position probably gives him an advantage of Vaughn, though Vaughn is considered the best bat available.

Video: Rutschman, Witt Jr. top Pipeline's Top 50 Draft list

A lot can change between now and June. What won't is the Orioles' commitment to giving whoever they choose ample time to develop. That includes holdovers from the old regime like Grenier, whose numbers plummeted during his first taste of pro ball. Given less than a week to switch from metal to wood bats after the College World Series, the 21-year-old hit .216 with one home run in 43 games at Class A Delmarva.

"It was an adjustment period. I hit a rough patch, but I was pretty happy how I played toward the back end," Grenier said. "This is a great opportunity for guys who come out of the Draft, and everybody else in the Minor League system. We know were going to get a shot pretty soon to rebuild the program."

Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.

Baltimore Orioles

O's boost infield, add Martin in Rule 5 Draft

Baltimore acquires infielder Jackson in trade with Phils, nets righty Grover in Triple-A phase
MLB.com

LAS VEGAS -- The Orioles arrived at the Winter Meetings with the imperative of increasing their depth and addressing their roster's glaring holes in the center of the diamond. They left having taken the initial steps toward doing both, as they acquired two middle infielders in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft.

Baltimore selected shortstop Richie Martin with the No. 1 overall pick, then it acquired infielder Drew Jackson in a trade with Phillies shortly after the draft's completion. Martin, the A's first-round pick in 2015, is a glove-first shortstop who enjoyed a breakout season offensively in '18. He was widely viewed as the top available talent in the annual auction.

LAS VEGAS -- The Orioles arrived at the Winter Meetings with the imperative of increasing their depth and addressing their roster's glaring holes in the center of the diamond. They left having taken the initial steps toward doing both, as they acquired two middle infielders in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft.

Baltimore selected shortstop Richie Martin with the No. 1 overall pick, then it acquired infielder Drew Jackson in a trade with Phillies shortly after the draft's completion. Martin, the A's first-round pick in 2015, is a glove-first shortstop who enjoyed a breakout season offensively in '18. He was widely viewed as the top available talent in the annual auction.

Jackson, who was acquired for international singing bonus slot money, was originally plucked from the Dodgers' system earlier in the morning.

"These selections really strike what [general manager] Mike [Elias] has been talking about increasing the overall value in the organization, getting better and getting more depth," O's director of baseball operations Tripp Norton said. "Shortstops are a hole for us right now. … Acquiring Richie and Drew gives us options to look at in Spring Training in regards to our shortstop situation."

Martin and Jackson must remain on the Orioles' active roster all season, or else they will be offered back to their respective clubs for $50,000. Martin's selection came with an initial $100,000 cost for Baltimore.

It's a low-risk gamble for a team not expecting to contend in 2019, and one the Orioles decided was worth taking. Whether it's Martin or incumbent Jonathan Villar who gets the majority of the reps at shortstop is secondary -- the O's are focused squarely on compiling versatile, young players, and they were active during the Winter Meetings in doing so.

The Orioles fly east with three new infielders with the ability to move around, having also added Rio Ruiz on a waiver claim earlier in the week. Martin sprinkled in 21 games at second base last season, and he is seen as athletic enough to play anywhere on the infield.

"With Richie, we saw him as an above-average defender with plus range, with a plus arm at short and someone who can also move over to play second base," Norton said. "He had a resurgence offensively this year at Double-A. We view that as trending up."

The 23-year-old Martin hit .300 with a .368 on-base percentage in his second crack at Double-A Midland, where he also swiped 25 bases and hit 29 doubles and six home runs in 118 games. But that marked the first productive campaign at the plate for Martin, who hit just .235 over his first 915 professional at-bats. Those fairly recent struggles prompted the A's to leave their No. 12 prospect unprotected.

Jackson has played primarily at shortstop and second base during his career, but he has also seen time at third and center field. The Dodgers' No. 19 prospect per MLB Pipeline, Jackson hit 15 home runs with an .804 OPS this year at Double-A Tulsa, where he played mostly second. Norton compared him to former Orioles infielder Ryan Flaherty.

Baltimore also added right-hander Taylor Grover from the Reds in the Triple-A phase of the draft, where they lost four players: right-hander Jeffeson Mednia (selected by the Rangers), second baseman Corban Joseph (A's), first baseman Wilson Garcia (Indians) and outfielder Randolph Gassaway (Pirates). Baltimore's 40-man roster is now full.

Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.

Baltimore Orioles

O's finalize deal with teen OF from Curacao

MLB.com

BALITMORE -- The Orioles have agreed to terms with international prospect J'Rudjeanon Isenia, a 16-year-old outfielder out of Curacao.

Isenia is the latest signing for a Baltimore club that is making an effort to ramp up what was a near-nonexistent international effort prior to this year. The $125,000 contract was agreed upon earlier this year, but made official on Tuesday afternoon.

BALITMORE -- The Orioles have agreed to terms with international prospect J'Rudjeanon Isenia, a 16-year-old outfielder out of Curacao.

Isenia is the latest signing for a Baltimore club that is making an effort to ramp up what was a near-nonexistent international effort prior to this year. The $125,000 contract was agreed upon earlier this year, but made official on Tuesday afternoon.

"Isenia is a right-handed-hitting outfielder with above-average tools and a good swing," said director of player development and interim GM Brian Graham. "He is a very coachable young player who we look forward to developing."

Tweet from @Orioles: The Orioles have agreed to terms with international player OF J���Rudjeanon Isenia (ROOD-juh-nawn EE-se��-ya), a 16-year-old out of Cura��ao. #Birdland pic.twitter.com/WnMSooSUQk

The Orioles announced four international signings Thursday: Venezuelan outfielder Angel Gomez, Cuban outfielder Kevin Infante, Dominican right-hander Kelvin LaRoche and Venezuelan shortstop Gilbert Machado. The quartet came on the heels of Baltimore missing out on the top three in this international signing period: Victor Victor Mesa, Victor Mesa Jr. and Sandy Gaston.

Given that, the O's, who started the month with an eye-popping $6.5 million in international bonus pool money, are expected to fill out their farm system with a volume of smaller signings. The bonus pool money, the most in the Majors, may be used until June and is a non-transferrable allotment.

The last player the Orioles scouted and developed that reached the Major League level from Curacao was Jonathan Schoop, who was traded to the Brewers midseason.

Vote for McKenna
Outfielder Ryan McKenna, the club's No. 12 prospect per MLB Pipeline, is a finalist for the Arizona Fall League's Fall Stars Game, and Orioles fans can help get him there by voting.

Video: McKenna on four-hit performance in Fall League win

McKenna, who played for Double-A Bowie during the regular season, is up against the Yankees' Thairo Estrada and the Rangers' Julio Pablo Martinez for the final spot on the West Roster with voting until 3 p.m. ET Wednesday.

McKenna ranks second in the AFL with a 1.100 OPS for the Glendale Desert Dogs and is vying to be the lone Orioles representative. Through 11 games, he's hitting .366 with a .490 on-base percentage and a .610 slugging percentage.

Kline protected
The Orioles selected the contract of right-handed pitcher Branden Kline from Double-A Bowie. The move puts Kline on the 40-man roster and prevents him from electing to become a Minor League free agent this winter.

Kline, a native of Frederick, Md., was selected by the Orioles in the second round of the 2012 Draft. Plagued by arm troubles, the righty is the O's 23rd-best prospect. Finally healthy to begin '18, Kline ended a 59-month absence on the mound when he logged a scoreless performance out of Class A Advanced Frederick's bullpen on Minor League Opening Day. Kline, who turned 27 last month, went 5-4 with a 1.64 ERA in 44 games across two levels, pitching 65 2/3 innings and allowing 52 hits and 18 walks against 71 strikeouts.

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

Orioles get in on int'l market, sign 4 players

MLB.com

The Orioles announced four international signings Thursday, including Venezuelan outfielder Angel Gomez, Cuban outfielder Kevin Infante, Dominican right-hander Kelvin LaRoche and Venezuelan shortstop Gilbert Machado.

"Infante is a right-handed-hitting corner outfielder who also possesses the skill set to play second base," Orioles director of player development Brian Graham said in an official team release. "He's a plus runner with a good offensive approach, and we believe that he will develop to be a productive hitter. Gomez is a well-rounded, right-handed-hitting outfielder who can run, throw and play all three outfield positions.

The Orioles announced four international signings Thursday, including Venezuelan outfielder Angel Gomez, Cuban outfielder Kevin Infante, Dominican right-hander Kelvin LaRoche and Venezuelan shortstop Gilbert Machado.

"Infante is a right-handed-hitting corner outfielder who also possesses the skill set to play second base," Orioles director of player development Brian Graham said in an official team release. "He's a plus runner with a good offensive approach, and we believe that he will develop to be a productive hitter. Gomez is a well-rounded, right-handed-hitting outfielder who can run, throw and play all three outfield positions.

"LaRoche is a durable right-handed pitcher," Graham continued, "whose consistent delivery allows him to throw strikes. Machado [no relation to former Orioles star Manny Machado] is a natural shortstop with plus defensive skills and athleticism.

"We look forward to having our player development staff work with all four players to further enhance their skills."

 • Top 30 International Prospects list

The haul represents one of the Orioles' first forays in the international market in recent years. Baltimore missed out on top international prospects Sandy Gaston and the Mesa brothers despite owning $6.5 million in international bonus pool money, which was among the highest totals of any of the 30 Major League clubs.

Terms for each of the Orioles' four signings were not known as of Thursday morning.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.

Baltimore Orioles

Wilkerson hopes to move past struggles in AFL

MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- After a season filled with trials and tribulations, Steve Wilkerson finds himself back in the Arizona Fall League for a second straight season, looking to make up for lost time.

Wilkerson's 2018 campaign featured some highs -- he made his Major League debut on June 20 -- but it also had some lows.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- After a season filled with trials and tribulations, Steve Wilkerson finds himself back in the Arizona Fall League for a second straight season, looking to make up for lost time.

Wilkerson's 2018 campaign featured some highs -- he made his Major League debut on June 20 -- but it also had some lows.

Arizona Fall League overviews for all 30 teams

The 26-year-old missed the first 50 games of the season while serving a suspension after he tested positive for an amphetamine during the offseason. Once he returned to the field, Wilkerson dealt with both an oblique and hamstring injury.

Wilkerson played in only 43 games this season -- 16 with the Orioles -- after totaling more than 100 in each of the past three seasons.

"I needed to make up some time," Wilkerson said. "I missed a large portion of the season with injuries and whatnot, so it's good to come out here, see some pitching and be on the field."

When Wilkerson played, he struggled to get into a rhythm. The eighth-round pick (2014) hit .174 with the Orioles and hit .270 in 20 games with Triple-A Norfolk, which is where he received the bulk of his playing time.

This was coming off a breakout 2017, during which Wilkerson hit .305/.375/.423 and finished the season as a member of MLB Pipeline's Arizona Fall League Top Prospects Team.

Despite all the struggles of 2018, Wilkerson made his MLB debut, and that brief taste of life in the Majors provided him the necessary motivation to try to work his way back.

"That's where I want to be," Wilkerson said. "It was everything I expected, and more. I really enjoyed it and I think next year, with the group of guys that we have coming back and the rebuild, if you will, that we are going through -- it's an exciting time and a lot of good opportunity for me and some of the younger guys."

Orioles hitters in the Fall League:

Ryan McKenna, OF (Baltimore's No. 12 prospect) -- McKenna, a fourth-round pick from the 2015 Draft, put together a bit of a breakout season, reaching Double-A Bowie for the first time. The 21-year-old set career highs in a number of offensive categories, including all three triple-slash categories (.315/.410/.457), homers (11) and RBIs (53). The outfielder also reduced his strikeouts from 128 to 101 and increased his walks from 43 to 66, while playing in one more game (127) in 2018 than he did in '17.

Martin Cervenka, C -- The Orioles added Cervenka in the Minor League Rule 5 Draft prior to the 2018 season. The 26-year-old signed with the Indians in 2011 and spent his entire career with that organization until the Giants picked him up for a month in November 2017. In his first year with the Orioles, Cervenka hit .258/.317/.457 over 97 games with Double-A Bowie. He also set career highs in homers (15) and RBIs (60), despite playing in only 97 games -- 15 fewer than he had in 2017.

Orioles pitchers in the Fall League:

Tanner Chleborad, RHP -- After getting shelled in one game with Double-A Bowie in 2017, Chleborad fared much better in an extended stint with the Baysox this season. The 25-year-old spent all of '18 with Bowie, where he went 6-1 with a 3.61 ERA. The right-hander converted four of his seven save opportunities and struck out 47, while walking 17. Chleborad appeared in 43 games and pitched 62 1/3 innings, both career highs.

Tyler Erwin, LHP -- Erwin's second full season couldn't have gone much better. The 24-year-old, who was born in Mesa, Ariz., set career highs in innings (68 1/3) and appearances (50), while dominating with Class A Advanced Frederick. Erwin held opponents to a .183 average, posted a 1.58 ERA and struck out 84, while walking 23.

Jay Flaa, RHP -- Flaa, a sixth-rounder (2015), impressed in his Double-A debut this season. The 26-year-old posted a 2.77 ERA over 41 appearances and notched 67 strikeouts in 65 innings. Flaa, who works in the upper-80s and lower-90s, doesn't blow hitters away, but mixes his pitches well and held opponents to a .155 batting average against this season.

Chris Lee, LHP -- The 2011 fourth-round pick pitched only 32 innings in an injury-filled season. Lee went on the disabled list in early April and missed the entire month, getting back on the field in May. However, he went back on the DL at the end of the month. Lee's second stint cost him a little more than eight weeks. Lee was also dropped from the 40-man roster in late July. When he got on the mound, the lefty went 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in 18 appearances. He posted a 3.50 ERA in 10 games with Double-A Bowie.

William Boor is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.

Baltimore Orioles, Steve Wilkerson

Pipeline names Orioles' Prospects of the Year

MLB.com

BALTIMORE -- As the Orioles head into a transitional phase that started with a rebuild and will soon include a new general manager and manager, Baltimore's beleaguered farm system has shown some promise. Leading the charge is outfielder Cedric Mullins and left-handed pitcher Zac Lowther, who were named MLB Pipeline's Prospects of the Year for the Orioles.

Each team's Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year were chosen by the MLB Pipeline staff. To receive consideration, players must have spent at least half the year in the Minors and appeared on the team's Top 30 Prospects list.

BALTIMORE -- As the Orioles head into a transitional phase that started with a rebuild and will soon include a new general manager and manager, Baltimore's beleaguered farm system has shown some promise. Leading the charge is outfielder Cedric Mullins and left-handed pitcher Zac Lowther, who were named MLB Pipeline's Prospects of the Year for the Orioles.

Each team's Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year were chosen by the MLB Pipeline staff. To receive consideration, players must have spent at least half the year in the Minors and appeared on the team's Top 30 Prospects list.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

Mullins, a 13th-round Draft pick in 2015, started the season at Double-A Bowie and hit .289 with 12 home runs and 29 doubles between there and Triple-A Norfolk. He made his big league debut on Aug. 10, taking over center field duties from longtime outfielder Adam Jones. Mullins became the first Oriole ever to record a three-hit debut and was a bright spot for the O's in a tough 2018.

Mullins, who turned 24 last week, hit .235/.312/.359 with nine doubles, four homers and 11 RBIs in 45 big league games. His mentality was immediately impressive to former Oriole manager Buck Showalter.

"I saw that calmness, [bench coach John Russell] and I were talking about it in Spring Training the first time he came over [to big league camp]," Showalter said after Mullins' first week. "He's not a guy that has to try to see how easy he can make things look. There's just a flow to his game. I think it's one of those guys that, when you do the analytics and stuff -- his closing speed and all that other stuff --you might be surprised by how good he is, compared to the way it looks to the naked eye."

Video: BAL@NYY: Mullins reaches on an error, drives in a run

Lowther is ranked as the O's No. 17 prospect. A competitive-balance pick in last year's Draft, he dominated at Class A Delmarva, compiling a 1.16 ERA in six starts. He was promoted to Class A Advanced Frederick, going 5-3 with a 2.53 ERA in the Carolina League. Between the two levels, he posted a 2.18 ERA in 123 2/3 innings with a 0.98 WHIP.

Mullins was named the Brooks Robinson Orioles Minor League Player of the Year, while Lowther was Co-Jim Palmer Pitcher of the Year, sharing the honors with Double-A Bowie's Keegan Akin.

Video: Callis breaks down MLB Pipeline's Team of the Week

The 22-year-old Lowther, who was selected out of Xavier, is listed at 6-foot-2 and 235 pounds.

Last year's winners were outfielder Austin Hays and lefty Alex Wells. Hays, a candidate for the big league club, dealt with injury all season. Wells went 7-8 with a 3.47 ERA in 24 starts for Frederick. Hays is the Orioles' fourth-best prospect while Wells is listed at No. 25.

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

Showalter impressed with prospect Stewart

MLB.com

NEW YORK -- DJ Stewart may have experienced some late-season struggles with Triple-A Norfolk and gotten off to a slow start in his first few games in the big leagues, but the rookie outfielder has turned some heads lately.

Through June 22 in the Minors, Stewart had slashed .278/.374/.461, but by the end of his season on Sept. 3, his batting average had dropped to .235. After he received his first call to The Show on Sept. 11, he started his Major League career 0-for-13 through his first five games. Despite what the numbers showed, Orioles manager Buck Showalter saw more.

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NEW YORK -- DJ Stewart may have experienced some late-season struggles with Triple-A Norfolk and gotten off to a slow start in his first few games in the big leagues, but the rookie outfielder has turned some heads lately.

Through June 22 in the Minors, Stewart had slashed .278/.374/.461, but by the end of his season on Sept. 3, his batting average had dropped to .235. After he received his first call to The Show on Sept. 11, he started his Major League career 0-for-13 through his first five games. Despite what the numbers showed, Orioles manager Buck Showalter saw more.

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"I mean, if you look at just pure numbers and batting average and all that other stuff, he's had some good at-bats," Showalter said. "He's had some baseball player's at-bats."

Although some may struggle with the transition from the Minors to the big leagues, Showalter seemed to think that Stewart -- the O's No. 22 prospect according to MLB Pipeline -- has not been overwhelmed through the process. In his 10 games with the Orioles, Showalter has noticed Stewart's impressive work ethic and said that the young outfielder is "engaged" in every aspect of the game. Stewart notched a pinch-hit sacrifice fly and an RBI double in the O's 6-3 win over the Yanks on Sunday.

Video: BAL@NYY: Stewart plates Rickard with a sac fly in 6th

"This isn't something that, because he's in the big leagues for the first time, he's got all this energy," Showalter said. "What you see in between innings, what you see on the bases -- this guy's gonna do that regardless of whether there's 10 people in the stands or there's 40,000. He's not enamored. He's like, 'OK, it's cool. I'm here, but now let me get on with my business.' He's a baseball player. He's fun to watch."

Like all slumps for any professional baseball player, Stewart's appears to have come to an end. In his past five games, he has gone 7-for-12 (.583) with three doubles, two homers, two walks and six RBIs.

"Not at all," Showalter said when asked if he was surprised by Stewart's recent success. "I've seen a lot of guys when they come up here ... the lights are better, supposedly the umpires are better, just a lot of the travel is better and your body feels better. They actually tend to do better if they have the skill level, so I'm hoping that stays."

Mandy Bell is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York.

Baltimore Orioles, DJ Stewart

Akin looks to build on career year in Minors

MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- As the Orioles look to the future, beginning a rebuild this season that is expected to take several years, the Major League present has often been tough to stomach. The trades of seven key players, a swap that netted them 15 players and reshaped their Top 30 Prospects list, have given them hope.

But one of the biggest bright spots of the Minor League season wasn't a new face. It was Double-A Bowie's Keegan Akin. Akin -- the O's second-round Draft pick in 2016 -- was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year last week, the first Orioles pitcher in a decade (Brad Bergesen, '08) to take home the honors.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- As the Orioles look to the future, beginning a rebuild this season that is expected to take several years, the Major League present has often been tough to stomach. The trades of seven key players, a swap that netted them 15 players and reshaped their Top 30 Prospects list, have given them hope.

But one of the biggest bright spots of the Minor League season wasn't a new face. It was Double-A Bowie's Keegan Akin. Akin -- the O's second-round Draft pick in 2016 -- was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year last week, the first Orioles pitcher in a decade (Brad Bergesen, '08) to take home the honors.

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"It brought in some good competition, pitching and position players," Akin said of the rush of new midseason arrivals. "My old coach used to say, 'Competition breeds excellence,' and if you get a lot of competition in an organization, you are bound to have some pretty good farmhands."

Akin certainly rose to the occasion, posting a 14-7 record with 142 strikeouts and a 3.27 ERA in 25 starts in his first season at Double-A. Ranked as the Orioles' No. 12 prospect, Akin gave up no more than three earned runs in 20 of those starts, 10 of which he allowed one earned run or zero earned runs.

The key?

"Attacking hitters with my fastball," said Akin, who held opposing hitters to a .225 batting average, with 9.28 strikeouts per nine innings. "It's pretty hard to hit a well-located fastball. So if you can establish that and be aggressive and keep hitters on their heels, you can have some success.

"I had a better feeling coming out of spring this year than last year. This year went better than last Spring Training, I came into it in better shape and overall just felt better. When you build up that little bit of confidence, it's easier to start strong and stay positive."

The 23-year-old, listed at 6-foot and 225 pounds, was also named an Eastern League All-Star and was Pitcher of the Week from Aug. 13-19. The Michigan native, who was drafted out of Western Michigan University, is spending a few days at home before heading to Sarasota, Fla., for instructional league this fall.

Although Akin is done pitching for the season, he'll go through strength and conditioning camp and continue to try to hone his craft and get on the big league radar.

"I think there's a lot of opportunities for everybody right now," Akin said. "If you are in the farm system, everyone has an opportunity, and I think everyone understands that. It makes it a little more -- I don't want to say fun, because it's always fun -- but you definitely can see those opportunities."

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

Orioles land pair of international players

Club agrees to terms with infielder Ramirez, right-hander del Rosario out of DR
MLB.com

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles announced Tuesday that they have agreed to terms with a pair of international players: infielder Moises Ramirez and right-handed pitcher Carlos del Rosario.

Ramirez is a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic, while Del Rosario -- also out of the D.R. -- is 19.

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles announced Tuesday that they have agreed to terms with a pair of international players: infielder Moises Ramirez and right-handed pitcher Carlos del Rosario.

Ramirez is a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic, while Del Rosario -- also out of the D.R. -- is 19.

"Today's signings are part of a coordinated plan for the Orioles to re-establish the club in the international recruiting arena," executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said in a news release. "Ramirez has all the tools to be a solid offensive player in the middle of the diamond, and del Rosario has the size and pitches to develop into a Major League pitcher. Our player-development staff looks forward to working with them to further develop their skills."

The O's are making a concerted effort to invest internationally after years of trading away their allotted funds in the area. As part of the rebuild, the club is looking to beef up scouting and analytics, slashing the Major League payroll to reallocate those resources elsewhere.

The Orioles entered this week with more international money to spend than any team in baseball, and they're rumored to be serious contenders for coveted Cuban outfielder Victor Victor Mesa once he's eligible to be a free agent.

Tuesday's pair of signings are unlikely to take the O's out of the running, though it obviously will diminish their pool. Baltimore also reportedly sent $750,000 to Philadelphia on Monday in exchange for Minor League first baseman Jack Zoellner.

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

O's likely to shut Harvey down with elbow injury

MLB.com

TORONTO -- Hunter Harvey will likely be shut down for the remainder of the season with a right elbow injury. The Orioles will continue with further tests, but manager Buck Showalter is pessimistic that the team's eighth-ranked prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, will pitch again this season.

"[Harvey]'s had some elbow discomfort they didn't like in his last throw session," Showalter said. "We felt like by this time that if he was healthy, he'd be pitching potentially for us, so that's been a kick in the pants."

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TORONTO -- Hunter Harvey will likely be shut down for the remainder of the season with a right elbow injury. The Orioles will continue with further tests, but manager Buck Showalter is pessimistic that the team's eighth-ranked prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, will pitch again this season.

"[Harvey]'s had some elbow discomfort they didn't like in his last throw session," Showalter said. "We felt like by this time that if he was healthy, he'd be pitching potentially for us, so that's been a kick in the pants."

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Harvey has thrown just 63 2/3 innings since 2015, when he missed the entire season after being struck by a line drive in Spring Training. He missed much of '16 and '17 with a right forearm issue that required Tommy John surgery.

"It seems like just when he's getting ready to blossom, there seems to be another thing -- it's got to be tough on him mentally." Showalter said of the right-hander. "I really feel for him. ... It's just a reminder that just having the [Tommy John] surgery doesn't mean that you're not going to have a problem."

Harvey started nine games this season, all with the Double-A Bowie Baysox. He pitched to a 5.57 ERA until his most recent start on June 1.

"I'm sure they're going to image [Harvey's elbow] and see if there are any changes," Showalter said. "Maybe … it's just soreness and inflammation and you've got to let it quiet down."

Aaron Rose is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto.

Baltimore Orioles, Hunter Harvey

Inbox: O's have high expectations for Mullins?

Beat reporter Brittany Ghiroli answers questions from Baltimore fans
MLB.com

Do you see any more big moves before the end of the year?
-- Ryan S., Norfolk, Va.


Probably not. The promotion of Cedric Mullins, the Orioles' ninth-ranked prospect, was probably the last bit of "bigger" news this year, though I do the club will end up calling up more guys (even if it's only for September's roster expansion). We know big changes are coming this offseason. It's not overstating things to call this an organization in flux, as both manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette have contracts that run out this season. At this point in the year, with a month and a half to go, it's almost a certainty that ownership will wait for this season to play out and then make a decision about which way to go.

I know it's early, but what do you think of Mullins? And what are the chances we sign Adam Jones to hold down right field?
-- Martin G., Columbia, Md.

Do you see any more big moves before the end of the year?
-- Ryan S., Norfolk, Va.


Probably not. The promotion of Cedric Mullins, the Orioles' ninth-ranked prospect, was probably the last bit of "bigger" news this year, though I do the club will end up calling up more guys (even if it's only for September's roster expansion). We know big changes are coming this offseason. It's not overstating things to call this an organization in flux, as both manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette have contracts that run out this season. At this point in the year, with a month and a half to go, it's almost a certainty that ownership will wait for this season to play out and then make a decision about which way to go.

I know it's early, but what do you think of Mullins? And what are the chances we sign Adam Jones to hold down right field?
-- Martin G., Columbia, Md.

Mullins obviously had an impressive debut, becoming the first Oriole to collect three hits in his first game. So his offense has clearly been as advertised. But the little things -- the ability to bunt, his respect for veterans, speed -- are also there. There's a lot of expectations with this 23-year-old, as the O's hope Mullins can man center field for years to come. It's started off well, but really you need to give it this season (and beyond) before you can really draw a conclusion one way or another. We've seen countless guys come up and perform well in short stints before big league pitchers figure them out. I'm not saying that will happen here, I'm just saying it's impossible to say what Mullins will do after a few days.

:: Submit a question to the Orioles Inbox ::

Clearly, Jones would like to stay. But there are some mixed messages right now as the organization starts a rebuild, and Duquette has referenced wanting to see younger players. Ultimately, it's going to come down to what kind of offer the Orioles make to keep Jones. Yes, he has ties in the area and has made a serious impact in the community. But it still has to fit into Baltimore's on-field plans and a reduced payroll for next season.

What are the club's realistic expectations for Chris Davis? And what can be done about that contract?
-- Tim R., Astoria, N.Y.

There's not a whole lot of leverage involved with Davis' contract, which is how the Orioles got into this mess. Ownership thought they were buying a big bat who could stabilize the lineup for years to come, but obviously that hasn't worked out at all. They tried benching him and letting him work stuff out on the side. That worked briefly, but nothing seems to do the trick long term. The O's are likely going to have to eat that record contract. So there aren't many other options for Baltimore -- the club has to play Davis and acknowledge that his pricey contract will very much factor into this rebuild.

When will Mark Trumbo return to the starting lineup? I know games don't really matter, but he's been our hottest hitter.
-- Michael F., Richmond, Va.

Trumbo did pinch-hit in the ninth inning of Sunday's game, but I know what you mean. The plan was for him to get an injection into that cranky right knee, with the hope that he could return for the Mets series this week. No one is 100 percent this time of year, but the Orioles are hoping they can get Trumbo back to where he's OK playing on that knee. This is something that's hampered him before and just needs to be managed.

What other players may fans expect to come up soon?
-- John B., Washington

Ryan Mountcastle and D.J. Stewart are two names that have circulated a lot, though the team may wait until September callups. Mullins was the big name, but when you look at the Orioles' current roster, there are already a ton of unproven guys. Still, I know people in the organization would like a look at Moutcastle and Stewart, and I'd be surprised if we don't see them at some point before this season ends.

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

Mullins posts record debut, but O's drop slugfest

OF is first Orioles player to notch 3 hits in first game; pitching allows 19 runs, nine extra-base hits, 10 walks
MLB.com

BALTIMORE -- It took no time at all for Cedric Mullins -- who at veteran Adam Jones' behest led the team out from the dugout -- to fit in on Friday night at Camden Yards. After being called up earlier in the day, the rookie doubled in a run in his first big league at-bat and came around to score on Jones' two-run single in the Orioles' run-filled 19-12 loss to the Red Sox.

The 23-year-old Mullins showcased his speed in center field, his smile in the dugout as he high-fived new teammates and his energy as he gave a last-place Baltimore club -- and its fans -- a jolt of good in what has been a season filled with frustration.

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BALTIMORE -- It took no time at all for Cedric Mullins -- who at veteran Adam Jones' behest led the team out from the dugout -- to fit in on Friday night at Camden Yards. After being called up earlier in the day, the rookie doubled in a run in his first big league at-bat and came around to score on Jones' two-run single in the Orioles' run-filled 19-12 loss to the Red Sox.

The 23-year-old Mullins showcased his speed in center field, his smile in the dugout as he high-fived new teammates and his energy as he gave a last-place Baltimore club -- and its fans -- a jolt of good in what has been a season filled with frustration.

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Video: BOS@BAL: Mullins doubles twice, gets 2 RBIs in debut

"It's hard to explain," Mullins said of what it felt like when Jones -- who has now moved over to right field -- told him to lead the team. "It kind of felt like a pass-the-torch situation. Just being able to feel like you're taking charge of your debut. That's the only way I can describe it."

Yes, the future -- which saw Mullins become the first player in Orioles history to record three hits in his debut -- is now, even if the present still looks less than desirable.

The kids are coming, with Mullins' debut -- a 3-for-4 night which included two doubles and two RBIs -- the next phase of the rebuild. That may or may not include Jones, a free agent after next season who had his own standout night -- going 3-for-5 with two RBIs -- in his first time in a decade playing a new position.

Video: BOS@BAL: Jones plates a pair with a single to left

"This is one of the greatest center fielders in Orioles history. When you look at where he ranks, not only with the Orioles but the game itself," manager Buck Showalter said of Jones, who has exclusively played center field since 2008, winning four American League Gold Glove Awards at the position. "I'm so happy [Mullins] has got someone like Adam to be there for him. It had to be the right guy. We think Cedric may be the right guy."

So does Jones. The 33-year-old had already been talking with Mullins -- ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Orioles' No. 9 prospect -- encouraging him and offering advice while he was in the Minors. He even took to his Twitter account Friday to give his blessing.

Tweet from @SimplyAJ10: End of an Era!!!! Embrace Change!!!!

"That's what center fielders do, the last time I checked," Jones said of having the rookie lead the team out of the dugout.

Mullins thought he was joking. "And [then] all the players were saying, 'Hey go, you're leading it.' So I took their word for it, went out on the field," Mullins said. "And then I took the scenic route. The long way around."

Video: BOS@BAL: Jones helps Mullins lead O's out of dugout

Mullins was a big part of the Orioles' back-to-back four-run frames in the second and third innings of Friday's game, the latter of which drove Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi from the game. Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo and Tim Beckham each hit solo homers for Baltimore, which saw a five-run lead dissipate as the team's bullpen coughed up the lead for the fourth consecutive game.

Video: BOS@BAL: Beckham belts a solo dinger to left in 6th

Orioles starter Dylan Bundy went five innings and allowed eight runs (seven earned) including a pair of homers. Righty Miguel Castro issued three walks in the sixth and was charged with three of Boston's six runs in that frame. Lefty Donnie Hart gave up a three-run homer to Andrew Benintendi in the seventh with Evan Phillips allowing another four runs.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Walkin' away with it: Castro entered the game tasked to protect a two-run lead, but instead he struggled with his command and -- after Mitch Moreland's sacrifice fly -- walked in the tying run. He was replaced by Hart, who issued a free pass to Rafael Devers to give Boston a 9-8 lead it would never relinquish. The Orioles walked 10 batters total on the night.

Video: BOS@BAL: Devers' bases-loaded walk puts Red Sox ahead

"We're going to use those opportunities to try to see if some people can come forward and present themselves," Showalter said of all his young relievers. "Sometimes you're trying to keep them out of harm's way and expose them as much as you can, but they've got to take advantage of the opportunity along the way because it's a very competitive business for all of them."

SOUND SMART
Jones stole his 86th base as a member of the O's in the fourth inning, which passes Don Buford for sole possession of 10th place in Orioles history.

Video: BOS@BAL: Jones beats throw to steal second in 4th

HE SAID IT
"This is something we've had our fair share of talks about. [Jones] sent me a text today that made an old man tear up. He's got a grip on reality and he's engaged. I think Adam is going to play as long as he wants to. People are always going to want the type of energy that he brings." -- Showalter, on Jones moving to right field

Video: BOS@BAL: Jones makes first play in right since '07

ROSTER MOVE
To make room for Mullins on the roster, Danny Valencia was designated for assignment. The 33-year-old hit .263/.316/.408 with nine homers and 28 RBIs in 78 games this season and garnered some trade interest around last month's Deadline.

When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster, and 25-man roster if he was on that as well. Within seven days of the transaction (it was previously 10 days), the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.

UP NEXT
Jimmy Yacabonis will get the promotion from Triple-A Norfolk for Game 1 of a split doubleheader against the Red Sox on Saturday at Camden Yards. Yacabonis, who has a 7.15 ERA in four MLB outings (two starts) this season, will be opposed by Sox lefty David Price. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET.

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