Brandon Hyde met with the local media via Zoom Dec. 14. It seemed like the only way to end such a challenging year with the ongoing pandemic. Here’s some of what Hyde had to say.
Akin, Kremer Expected To Fill Out Rotation
Keegan Akin and Dean Kremer had some impressive outings when they were called up to the big-league club this past season.
Hyde expects both pitchers to successfully compete for spots in the rotation during camp. At least part of the Orioles’ youth movement appears to have finally arrived.
“I thought they put themselves in position the way they threw the ball their last four or five starts in the big leagues,” Hyde said. “I thought they really threw the ball outstanding against playoff clubs.”
Akin picked up his first win Sept. 16 in the Orioles’ 5-1 victory against the Atlanta Braves. He flashed his ability with five scoreless innings, allowing three hits with nine strikeouts. At one point of the game, Akin struck out six consecutive batters.
It was the type of performance that has the organization full of optimism for the future. Overall Akin went 1-2 with a 4.56 ERA with 35 strikeouts and 10 walks in eight appearances, including six starts this season.
Kremer went 1-1 with a 4.82 ERA with 22 strikeouts and 12 walks in four starts. Teams stacked their lineups with lefties against Kremer, so it will be key for him to execute all of his pitches, including a breaking ball.
“To go in against the lineups that Kremer and Akin faced on a nightly basis was really impressive with how they handled that,” Hyde said. “So they gave themselves every opportunity to win a starting job next year.”
Mountcastle Could Be Force
Ryan Mountcastle is another one of the players who provide optimism for the Orioles’ rebuilding effort.
Mountcastle batted .333/.386/.492 with five home runs and 23 RBIs. He was named to MLBPipeline.com’s 2020 MLB All-Rookie team, but he’ll retain his rookie status for 2021. If he performs well again, he could be in contention for American League Rookie of the Year.
Hyde expects Mountcastle to be a fixture in the middle of the Orioles’ lineup next season. However, Mountcastle might find himself more challenged by opposing pitchers next season as they find new ways to attack him.
“The challenge of being a young player is the league doesn’t know you extremely well when you first get here, and they make adjustments to you, and then it’s your job to make adjustments back if you want to continue to be an impact player and be an everyday player in this league,” Hyde said.
Davis To Battle For At-Bats
The struggles of Orioles first baseman Chris Davis have been an ongoing narrative with the club. Davis struggled again at the plate this past summer, and he was also hampered by left knee tendinitis.
He batted .115/.164/.173 with just one RBI in 16 games and 55 plate appearances. Davis will have to fight for his at-bats next season with Trey Mancini back in the fold and ready to play first base with Mountcastle in the outfield.
“Chris has had a few tough years. He’s still a part of the club,” Hyde said. “He’s going to come in like everybody else and try to get playing time and try to get as many at-bats as possible. I’m going to give him an opportunity. I’m going to give him a ton of at-bats in spring training and try to get him right like we’ve done the last couple of years. But we have younger players that are getting here also, other guys that play his position, and he’s going to have to perform to get at-bats in the season.”
Reporting On Time?
Hyde is optimistic the club will be able to reconvene in Sarasota, Fla., by February, just like previous years. With vaccines now available for COVD-19, MLB is cautiously optimistic teams will be able to play a normal 162-game schedule as opposed to the 60-game sprint this past summer.
“I’m anticipating us starting in February and they’ll let me know if it’s not,” Hyde said. “I’m anticipating the season starting on time, I’m anticipating a season being 162 games, I want to believe that we’re going to start in February, and I think the next month or two is going to tell all of us whether that’s going to happen or not, but I’m going to prepare like we’re starting a normal season.”
Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to camp Feb. 16, with the club starting its spring schedule Feb. 27. The Orioles are scheduled to open the season against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park April 1.
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