Orioles manager Brandon Hyde has been a busy man throughout the past month.
Hyde and his coaching staff were tasked with evaluating close to 70 players at the team’s spring training facility in Sarasota, Fla. Hyde embraced the challenge as the Orioles try to find players who can take on a long-term role with the rebuilding franchise.
What will the Opening Day 26-man roster look like? Here’s a prediction, with 13 pitchers and 13 position players.
(Note: Outfielder Trey Mancini is not included because he is out with a “non-baseball” medical procedure.)
John Means, Alex Cobb, Asher Wojciechowski, Wade LeBlanc, Tommy Milone
Analysis: Means has established himself as the class of this rotation. He’s shown solid command this spring. The club has been patient with Cobb, and Hyde is hopeful that the veteran right-hander can start the year fully healthy. Wojciechowski is focused on making the most of his opportunity and is looking to lock down that third spot. LeBlanc adds another veteran presence to the rotation and is having a good camp. Milone has been dealing with neck soreness, but there is optimism he could be ready for the start of the season. Kohl Stewart has battled bicep soreness, but he pitched three innings March 8 and remains in the mix.
Mychal Givens, Hunter Harvey, Richard Bleier, Miguel Castro, Cody Carroll, Paul Fry, Shawn Armstrong, Hector Velázquez
Analysis: The Orioles created some space by parting ways with Rule 5 pickups Brandon Bailey and Michael Rucker. Harvey has made a strong case to serve as closer, while Givens could be a trade candidate this summer. Velázquez was the latest addition after being claimed off waivers from the Boston Red Sox March 8. Fry will look to be a key pitcher in matchups against left-handed hitters. The rest of the bullpen could be fluid for much of the season as the Orioles continue to evaluate talent.
Pedro Severino, Chance Sisco
Analysis: Severino is the more consistent player and will get the majority of starts. He does an effective job managing the club’s pitchers and has a solid bat, particularly against left-handed pitching. Sisco needs to take the next step in his development. Veteran Bryan Holaday is getting a look in camp, and other catchers — like Austin Wynns and Martin Cervenka — will push for big-league at-bats this year. Additionally, top prospect Adley Rutschman could debut by 2021.
Hanser Alberto, Chris Davis, Rio Ruiz, José Iglesias, Renato Núñez, Pat Valaika, Andrew Velazquez
Analysis: The offseason addition of Iglesias has helped solidify the infield. The Orioles hope Davis can carry his momentum this spring into the regular season. He’s been one of the team’s most dangerous hitters this spring. Valaika has also been a pleasant surprise and could provide depth. Velazquez can provide some versatility with his ability to play the outfield as well. Though Richie Martin has been solid this spring, he’ll likely start the season in the minors to get everyday at-bats.
Austin Hays, Anthony Santander, Dwight Smith Jr., TBD
Analysis: The Orioles have some openings in the outfield with the absences of Mancini and DJ Stewart, who is still recovering from ankle surgery. Hays will get the opportunity to be the everyday center fielder, while Smith (left) and Santander (right) will patrol the corners. With the regular season fast approaching, GM Mike Elias will scour the waiver wire for outfield depth. Don’t forget about Stevie Wilkerson, who would need to be added to the 40-man roster after being removed Jan. 31.
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