Things To Watch For In The Remainder Of The Orioles 2019 Season
With the Orioles 35 games under .500; many have long checked out on this season.
That is understandable.
It’s hard to even check-in everyday, when you look at the roster and you question if any of the existing parts will be part of the next quality Orioles team.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t things to watch though. Especially so, if we broaden our vision beyond the Major League roster, and include the Minor League system.
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
Who Is Leaving?
Cashner has done enough to have some value.
Teams won’t look at Givens as a Closer option, but there will be interest in him as a piece to a quality pen.
Bundy is sporting a 4.65 era (4.73 xFIP), and his FB velocity is just averaging 91.6; but he is getting plenty of k’s (and swings and misses). He’s very solid the first time through a lineup. If a team was interested in utilizing him in relief, they might get production there. He’s arbitration eligible over the next two years.
Cashner, Givens, Bundy could all find new homes. None of them are bringing back great prospects.
Maybe they bring some ceiling, and guys under longer-term team control.
Severino was a pretty decent prospect at one point with the Nationals. He just never played a lot. He’s only 25, has some defensive ability, and is sporting an .818 OPS after 169 ab’s. Someone need a Catcher? Don’t have to move him though, and continuing to pair him and Sisco until Rutschman is fine.
Villar is arbitration eligible for next year. I like him for what he is, which is a legitimate Major League caliber player. That said, the metrics hate him at both 2nd and SS this year. (Last year he was slightly above average at both positions.) I’m sure the O’s could trade him, but they shouldn’t just give him away.
Nunez is on-pace for 36 homers, and 31 doubles. He’s got a .799 OPS after 301 ab’s. How’s his arm? I’d like to see him getting some time at 3rd if the arm is healthy. All the beat reporters locally say the O’s don’t like his defense at the hot corner. The metrics had him above average last year in the limited sample. If he could be average defensively at 3rd, he has some value. Value both as a possible piece for the O’s, or in a trade. The average and on-base % is poor, but the power is legitimate. His lack of remaining options with him doesn’t matter to me, because there is no reason for him to go back to the Minors.
Mancini being moved seems unlikely, but it’s plausible at-least. It would take a quality prospect haul.
Means? He is 26 and not some 22 year old phenom. He went from fringe prospect to the AL All-Star team in 1/2 a season. That rise will lead to doubts. Still, it would be very surprising to see him moved. The change is outstanding. Maybe he’s embraced some of the changes of the new regime? Either way, he’s under control for years at minimal cost. When you have control, and he’s showing upside…that would make him hard to move. To be fair, that’s also what would make him attractive elsewhere.
Who On The Current 25 Man Roster Can Be Part Of The Next Quality Team?
Legitimately, the answer is maybe nobody.
I believe the O’s will be around .500 in ’21, and a WC team in ’22.
Even if we’re using ’21 as the barometer of when the O’s will next field a quality team (and a .500 caliber team is stretching the definition of ‘quality’), the options are limited.
Means is under control through ’24.
Mancini is under control through ’22.
That could also be zero if Means’ fairytale run stops, or Mancini is moved.
On the other-hand, there might be more players that could be part of the next quality team vs. what you’d think at first.
In addition to Means, and Mancini, we mentioned Nunez above. He’s 25 years old. He’s under control through ’24.
I’m not saying he is part of the O’s future – the limitations to his game say he won’t – but his positives (age, power, cheap control) give him a chance.
Dwight Smith Jr. had a very productive first two months. Then he got hurt, and has been cold since he got back. (0 for 15 in July, 4 for his last 33 overall.) His OPS is down to .725. (On-base is under .300.) The metrics in left have gotten progressively worse. He could flame out completely, and another month from now become a complete after thought for even just next year, let alone beyond that.
Or, he could turn things around and get hot again. He’s on-pace for 20 homers, and 25 doubles in just under 500 ab’s. He’s shown flashes of why he was a former 1st round pick. We will see what he does these last two months. He’s 27 in October, and the O’s certainly have corner OF options. The odds that he’s a long-term piece aren’t good. That’s why he was available in the first place. We’ll see.
Ruiz is a quality defensive 3rd baseman, and generally has some good ab’s. Capable of spraying liners. He’s got to hit more in the 2nd half though, a .635 OPS isn’t going to cut it. He needs to increase his average, and find the gaps more often. As I said above, I’m hoping Nunez gets more time at 3rd. If that happens, there will even more pressure for Ruiz to produce in whatever opportunities he gets. His defense is good enough that if he could be a .275 / .335 / .420 guy, he could be a piece. I just don’t know if he has that capability.
Utility players aren’t sexy to think about, but Alberto and Wilkerson have both shown this year they can be quality reserve type players. Alberto could maybe be a low-level starting 2nd baseman if he can show a bit more power. I like them both as reserves, but they are both replaceable reserves. Look at them like you’d look at most relievers, volatile. Might continue to be a part, might be off the roster exceedingly soon.
The selection of Rutchsman doesn’t necessarily mean Sisco has no future with the Orioles.
Maybe they wind-up splitting time equally behind the plate and DH? That could keep both of them fresh.
I continue to be surprised by the metrics with Martin. He’s got a -21.9 UZR / 150, and -10 DRS. That’s horrible. By the eye test, I think he’s above average defensively. Split the difference, and let’s call him average defensively. Average defensively and a .507 OPS isn’t even a UTI piece. He’ll need to go to AAA next year, and produce there to believe he could possibly be a piece.
Santander is 25 in October (2 years younger then Smith). He showed some potential in the lower Minors in Cleveland, leading to the O’s selecting him in the Rule 5 prior to the ’17 season. His ’18 season in the Minors was a step back. His ’19 AAA production before being promoted wasn’t real exciting even when accounting for the park effects of Norfolk. In the Majors this year, he’s shown some of the pop from his Cleveland organization days, and better defense in RF than I expected. The CF experiment from this past week feels like a stretch, but maybe they are just seeing if he can be an emergency option there.
Summary: Nunez, Smith, Ruiz, Alberto, Wilkerson, Santander all have a chance (with differing odds) of adding to a roster (in differing capacities), but there isn’t one guy there you would be counting on, and those are all guys you’d be looking to improve upon. Sisco is legitimately interesting. Maybe we see him get Winter Ball time at 2nd? Do you buy into Means long-term? Is Mancini traded?
Who Is Coming Next?
Austin Hays has been limited to 38 games and 148 ab’s so far in the Minors this year. His rehab with Aberdeen is ending. I think talent wise, he’s on the verge. If he goes to AAA and produces over the next few weeks, wouldn’t really surprise me if he was the Orioles CF August 1st.
DJ Stewart was on a tear at AAA and earned his ML promotion. After just 7 games, and 24 ab’s he got hurt. He’s been rehabbing at Bowie. I would imagine he’s back up in the Majors soon.
If the O’s trade off Severino, he figures to be replaced by Wynns. Wynns isn’t a prospect of any degree, but could be a suitable backup over the next year.
I think Tanner Scott belongs in the Majors. We know the control is a real issue. So is the arm talent.
Hunter Harvey has been moved to bullpen, and is kicking ass in relief. He’s now at Norfolk.
As a reliever, I’m not going to need to see him do much with the Tides, to want him up with the Orioles.
Dillon Tate has also been moved to relief – where he belongs – and has also found some success.
Move him up and see if he can help in that capacity.
Cody Carroll has been dealing with a back injury all year. Once healthy, you’ll be looking to see him in the Majors. Fastball can hit 100, but seems a bit flat. First thing you’ll want to see is him get healthy, second thing is maybe shaving off some of the velocity for better movement.
Brandon Hyde really likes Evan Phillips. I really like Branden Kline.
Neither one has been good in the Majors. Both will continue to be on the Norfolk to Baltimore shuttle.
Keegan Akin is not on the Orioles 40 man, and he’s walking too many guys, but I feel like he’s 2-3 quality starts from promotion.
Dean Kremer and Alex Wells are also not on the 40 Man roster, but they also shouldn’t be far away from possible auditions in the Baltimore rotation. Same for Bruce Zimmerman.
Zac Lowther, and Michael Baumann just continue to progress. Given what we’ve seen from the O’s rotation, each of these guys should be options at some point the rest of this Summer.
Do The Orioles Pull The Plug On Davis & Trumbo?
Gave my thoughts here.
How Does The Quartet Finish?
Outside of Rutschman, the Orioles four best prospects are Rodriguez, Hall, Mountcastle, and Diaz.
After injuries and a rough start, Diaz has come to life, but the overall numbers are still ‘meh.’
Would be nice to see him finish on a tear. I think he’s going to take over RF with the Orioles by June next year.
Mountcastle is a 22 year old with an .834 OPS at AAA. He’s got 15 homers, and 18 doubles. That’s exciting, especially when you consider he’s actually been been slumping some over the last Month. You’d still like to see that BB / K ratio (11 to 79) improve. I look at Mountcastle similar to how I look at Harvey. If Harvey’s future is a relief pitcher, bring him him up soon. If Mountcastle’s future is 1st / DH / LF, then we can expect he’s up for good by next June.
I’d think Rodriguez and Hall both crack the O’s rotation at some point in ’21.
How Does Means Finish?
Means’ performance in the 1st half was an exceptional story. He’s been very consistent and extremely impressive. Seeing him come back from the short IL stint, and pick-up where he left off was great to see.
He doesn’t have to replicate his 1st half to have value, but seeing how good he is over the 2nd half is definitely something to watch. As there is more video, and teams are seeing him multiple times, how sustainable is this performance?
Tremendous difference if you end this year thinking you have a front-end starter vs. a capable rotation option.
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.
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