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This veteran has impressed most in O's camp

@JoeTrezz
March 4, 2020

JUPITER, Fla. -- Pinpointing just one teammate that’s stood out, Chris Davis admitted, wasn’t easy given the volume of options to choose from. “It’s kind of hard,” Davis said recently in the Orioles’ dugout. “We have like 987 dudes in camp.” The actual number is 64 -- down from 69

JUPITER, Fla. -- Pinpointing just one teammate that’s stood out, Chris Davis admitted, wasn’t easy given the volume of options to choose from.

“It’s kind of hard,” Davis said recently in the Orioles’ dugout. “We have like 987 dudes in camp.”

The actual number is 64 -- down from 69 at its max -- but point taken. Orioles camp is still stuffed to the gills at the unofficial halfway point of spring, mostly by young players looking to make first impressions with the club. Which is part of why what Davis has done so far has been so notable.

It’s the soon-to-be 34-year-old Davis who has arguably turned the most heads this spring, with his re-enlarged physique and series of early spring homers. Davis received the most votes when we asked players in Orioles camp the simple question: “Who has impressed you thus far?" Richie Martin, Michael Rucker and others also earned mentions.

Here’s why, how and what their teammates had to say:

Chris Davis, 1B
The former All-Star and two-time home run champion's stock had fallen so far in recent years he considered retirement this winter, with three years and around $93 million left on his contract. But he’s off to a sizzling start this spring after putting on 25 pounds and deciding to stay the course. Davis’ three homers in six spring games earned him a share of the Grapefruit League lead entering Wednesday. Is it a mirage? Time will tell. But at this point, from the Orioles’ view, it’s better than the alternative.

"CD has surprised me a lot," Hanser Alberto said. "He seems really focused at the plate, not taking too many pitches and not swinging and missing as much. He reminds me of how he used to be in the past."

“So far this spring he’s looked incredible," Branden Kline said. "Obviously he has a track record of success. It's great to see it from this side of things, to see him comfortable, to see him having fun. Whatever he’s been doing has obviously been working. It’s been really cool to see the hot start he’s gotten off to this spring."

Richie Martin, SS
Martin made the jump from Double-A to the bigs and spent all of 2019 in the Majors as a Rule 5 Draft pick, hitting .208 with a .581 OPS and adjusting defensively as well. This year, the Orioles signed José Iglesias to play short and can send Martin to the Minors to begin the season if they wish. Martin is trying to avoid that so he can continue developing at the big league level in a utility role.

I want guys to take this seriously and treat these games like they are in-season games, especially with as many openings as we have," Davis said. "And I think Richie is doing a good job of that. He’s been swinging the bat well.

“It’s also the way he’s carried himself. I feel like he has a little more confidence. Not that he wasn’t last year, but there were a lot of unknowns. Now that he’s played a full season in the big leagues, has seen what it looks like, knows what it feels like to go through it -- he looks more mature, more aggressive, and I like that. He has a really good skill set. He has something we need, with his ability to steal bases and the energy he brings to the club.”

Michael Rucker, RHP
One of two Rule 5 Draft picks in Orioles camp, Rucker spent most of last season in Double-A in the Cubs' system. He is a 6-foot-1, 195-pound righty and former 11th-round MLB Draft pick out of BYU who was converted into a multi-inning reliever last season. His fastball has sat consistently in the mid-90s, and he also features two distinct breaking balls. If he makes the Orioles, it’ll most likely be in a swingman role.

I didn’t know anything about him at all, and his stuff looks really good," Richard Bleier said. "I think he has a really good chance to be a successful big league pitcher. His stuff looks like it’s going to play in the big leagues. He’s got good command and a good head on his shoulders. It seems like he has what it takes to make it up here.”

Also receiving votes: Dilson Herrera, Rio Ruiz, Cody Carroll

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