Orioles Take 2 of 3 In New York; Head To Toronto
The Opening Series is in the books, and the Baltimore Orioles are arriving in Toronto having taken 2 of 3 from the Yankees in New York.
With the obvious caveat that a 3 game sample is nothing, we will proceed anyway with some immediate impressions.
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
My primary takeaway is that I think for whatever games the Orioles manage to win in 2019, that Saturday and Sunday provided a good blueprint for them.
– Avoid getting buried early.
– They have some power arms. Not guys you want seeing lineups 3x, but for 2-4 innings can help a team.
– Good defense. If not plus, at-least good enough not to beat yourself.
– Be aggressive running when they are on base. Force the issue. Use their speed.
– Get a clutch hit or two.
Show up everyday and compete. Try and avoid beating yourself. Care. Be aggressive when you have opportunities.
Even at a professional level, it’s amazing how you can make up talent limitations (to a degree) with effort.
Hyde – The Skipper has completed his initial three games as a Major League Manager, and got a nice beer bath for win #1. Benched Davis against Paxton in Game 2. Benched Mullins against lefty starters in Games 2 and 3. Prioritized trying to win yesterday, over worrying about Givens availability tonight and probably tomorrow. Willing to move some guys around. He’s prioritizing defense.
Mullins – I’ve said before, I’m not sure he’s a regular. I’m not sure he’s not a AAAA player, or more of a 4th OF, than a guy you want starting for you. But I’ve also said he has enough promise, that I want him playing regularly so we can find out. It’s April 1st, and the Orioles leadership has already said this year they’d like Hays to be the CF at some point, and benched Mullins vs. two lefties (he was horrible vs. lefties last year in the Majors… but it was only 45 ab’s). The competition for time is only going to increase as this season progresses. He needs to take advantage of the opportunities he gets.
Openers – The O’s have a ton of guys that could be good for 2-4 inning outings, maybe more work than a typical reliever, less than a starter. Yacabonis, Hess, Wright, Karns, Means (Rogers, Ortiz, Kremer, Tate, Ramirez). Admittedly I have some hope for Ortiz & Kremer as starters.
Yacabonis – Got the win Saturday. Stuff looked great. No belief in his ability to be a consistent starter… but definitely think he can help a roster. How he was utilized (followed Karns, who was the opener) is how he should be used.
Means – Got the win Sunday. Change-up was awesome.
Defense – Martin and Ruiz both had nice defensive series in NY at SS, and 3rd. That was very encouraging. The OF currently features legitimate OF’s. Sucre had a couple of issues (fluke miss, passed ball, and a wild pitch that should have been another passes ball); but not worried there. He’ll be solid, and he’s just learning his staff. Severino impressed Sunday by how active he was.
Smith Jr. – Despite being a former 1st round pick, the back of his baseball card isn’t particularly exciting. He’s 26. In ’17 he had a .743 OPS at AAA. In ’18 he had a .771 OPS at AAA. But right now, he has an opportunity to play, and you are seeing some skills. 5 hits in his first 11 ab’s as an Oriole. Willing to use all fields. hitting line drives. He’s been fun to watch. Will be interesting to see how his former organization pitches him. He might be a guy whose confidence just increases with regular time.
Jackson – Going to move around a lot. Like the versatility.
Ruiz & Martin AB – Ruiz has a good approach at the plate, you can see he has a plan. The defense looks good, but he can’t be a black hole offensively. Martin’s number 1 job is to be a plus fielder at SS, and he looks capable of that. That’s exciting. Offensively, I thought he was pressing in his initial ab’s in NY. He had a very solid year (.300 / .368 / .439) at AA Midland last year. Like to to see these guys get a couple of hits in Toronto, and start to feel a bit more comfortable.
Nunez – That 3 run blast yesterday was a shot! That was followed up with a ripped liner into CF, and a important walk. There is some ability there. 20+ bombs with 500 ab’s might be in-reach.
Davis – Struck out 3x in the Opener, benched Saturday, 0 for 3 with a BB Sunday. Did have a decent drive to LCF in his first ab Sunday. But celebrating that as a win is telling. I’m hoping Chris can have a couple of productive games in Toronto before coming home. Otherwise I’m concerned we see a really ugly and unfortunate scene when he’s introduced at the home opener.
Rickard – On Opening Day Joey had a very poor throw from RF. He also had a fantastic diving catch. He’s going to get starter time right now, and probably be exposed a bit with that. That’s not his fault though. He could be a nice 4th for any team. Some pop, runs well, good defense. He’s never been a base stealer. I’d like to see him incorporate that into his game. Got lost by people, but he did have 8 homers in his 213 ab’s last year, which illustrates the pop. Nice job going with the pitch on his 2 run shot yesterday. Short porch, but love when guys can go opposite field with some authority.
Mancini – He’s just a very solid player. Quality ab’s. A good example that not all development is linear. His MiL production was not overwhelming. He actually had a better 2017 in the Majors than he did in ’16 at AAA (even when accounting for Norfolk). Right now you just challenge him to be as productive as he can. What’s your ceiling Trey?
Bundy – He had a 3.75 era after his June 23rd start in Atlanta last year. That night he rolled his ankle on the bases, and was crushed the remainder of the season. That was followed by a rough Spring. Yesterday he made his first start, and I thought he looked pretty good. Lot of movement on his change. Was getting swings and misses. Obviously too many walks, and not an efficient outing. He’s averaged 170 innings the last two years, and I’m sure the O’s are hoping they can get that much ore more from him this year. I do wonder if he’d be more productive (and the velocity would tick up) if you just used him for 3 inning outings a couple of times per week?
Castro – Still just 24, and still has a lot of arm talent. He’s a guy to watch in-terms of the new staff. How much more can they get out of him?
Givens – 2.2 innings over Saturday and Sunday. Velocity in the high 90’s Saturday. Dropped to low-to-mid 90’s as his pitch count got extended Sunday. Former INF had a poor throw defending his position yesterday. That’s an aberration. If the O’s consistently get the guy who showed up this weekend, he’s going to have a lot of value on the trade market come July.
Bleier – Has come back from a difficult injury. Was productive in ’17, and was replicating that production in ’18. Because of his general lack of ‘stuff’, he’s never going to be a guy you feel incredibly comfortable with imo. He has pitchability though, and that can go a long way. First outing of the year went poorly. You want him to put that immediately behind him, and get him going.
Villar – Had 62 steals in 2016 with Milwaukee. I’m very curious to see how many he ends up with this year.
Wright – Looked uncomfortable on Opening Day. Looked excellent Saturday picking up the save. Wears his emotions on his sleeve. If he can harness what he had going Saturday, you’d have something.
Next-up is 3 games in Toronto. Hess is on the mound tonight. Hess allowed too many homers last year, but he’s got a nice slider, and better velocity and movement than you’d think. Like Yacabonis, I don’t think I’ll ever really believe in his ability to be a consistent starter; but absolutely believe he could help a team.
Chris Stoner founded Baltimore Sports and Life in 2009. He has appeared as a radio guest with 1090 WBAL, 105.7 The Fan, CBS 1300, Q1370, WOYK 1350, WKAV 1400, and WNST 1570. He has also been interviewed by The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Business Journal, and PressBox (TV). As Owner, his responsibilities include serving as the Managing Editor, Publicist, & Sales Director.
You can reach him via email at [email protected].