A couple of Orioles players will need to show improvement during the second half of the season or their future with the club is murky.
Outfielder Anthony Santander and catcher Pedro Severino could be non-tendered after the season if their stats do not improve. The 2022 season will mark the second year of arbitration eligibility for both.
Severino has struggled defensively with eight passed balls and 34 wild pitches. He has only thrown out four of 21 runners attempting to steal a base. Severino has committed one error and has 20 assists.
The Orioles recently parted ways with Chance Sisco and promoted Austin Wynns from Triple-A Norfolk. Adley Rutschman is a premier prospect at catcher, but he won’t be promoted to the major-league club this season. Brett Cumberland, currently with Triple-A Norfolk, is a possibility.
Severino is batting .220/.299/.320 with four home runs and 44 RBIs in 224 plate appearances.
“I have been frustrated at times with a lot of defensive performances on the team, but this is understanding again that this is a tough game and players are working hard and we’re going to try to get the most out of them,” Orioles general manager Mike Elias said in May. “But ultimately, if we get to the point where a different mix would be to the benefit of not only those players themselves but for the pitching staff or for the good of the team at large, we’re going to look at that and consider it.”
Santander, who was voted Most Valuable Oriole last season, has battled a left ankle injury for most of the 2021 season. He is batting .226/.271/.382 with six home runs and 23 RBIs in 230 plate appearances. However, he has two homers since June 9.
“I’ve been working on my rhythm since I came back from the injury,” Santander said through an interpreter. “I think I felt out of sync and out of rhythm, so the past few weeks, I’ve been working on that, trying to get my body synchronized, better rhythm, and I think that’s why I’m getting better results at the plate.”
The Orioles selected six outfielders in this year’s MLB Draft, including Sam Houston State’s Colton Cowser with the fifth overall pick, so there is plenty of depth at that position.
Young Pitchers Looking To Get Back On Track
The Orioles envision Dean Kremer and Keegan Akin playing key roles in the starting rotation during the next couple of years.
But both players have undergone some growing pains in the majors.
Kremer has gone 0-7 with a 7.25 ERA in 12 major-league starts this season. He has walked 24 batters with 45 strikeouts and allowed 14 home runs. Kremer is currently pitching for Triple-A Norfolk but will inevitably make his way back to Baltimore at some point in the second half of the season.
“Just right now, he’s having a hard time going from start to start, outing to outing, being consistent with his stuff and his command,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “That’s why we felt like it was the right thing for us to do, and for him to do, is to go pitch in some little bit lower-pressure situations and go work on his command.”
Akin is 0-4 with a 7.54 ERA and 1.68 WHIP in 12 big-league appearances this year, including seven starts. He needs to find more consistency in the second half of the season if he wants to remain part of the rotation.
Akin is starting July 16 in Kansas City. He last pitched July 10 against the White Sox and allowed four runs with six strikeouts in 4.1 innings of relief. Hyde was encouraged by that outing.
“That was the best stuff I’ve seen from Keegan in a while and I was encouraged by that,” Hyde said. “He gave up a few runs there, probably tired toward the end, but I thought he threw the ball really well. Fastball had more life to it than previous starts, threw some decent off-speed pitches, he was aggressive in the strike zone and wasn’t missing on the wrong sides of the plate. I was encouraged by him coming out of the bullpen.”
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