Orioles infield candidates; Spring Training Tickets; Call for questions
Competition between infielders during Orioles spring training will likely be intense. Kelvin Gutiérrez, Jorge Mateo, Ramón Urías and Rougned Odor, who signed as free agents, will enter spring training with hard shots to make the team, but other players must also be taken into account.
Fund: Bannon was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of Manny Machado’s trade in July 2018. After hitting .317 in 20 games for Triple-A Norfolk in 2019, the 25-year-old has only played on the Bowie’s alternate site in 2020.
Although he is primarily a third baseman, Bannon has also played second. Bannon was added to the 40-man roster in November 2020.
Bannon’s 2021: Bannon played in 84 games for Norfolk in 2021 due to a strained oblique muscle and hit just .176 with 15 home runs and 36 RBIs.
Bannon had a .297 on-base percentage last season and a .355 lifetime on-base percentage in the minors.
Outlook: Bannon has been a big disappointment in 2021. The Orioles had hoped he would play his way to the majors, but he didn’t. He needs a big spring training and a good start if he returns to Norfolk to start 2022.
Fund: Jones was acquired on February 2n/a from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for starting pitcher Alex Cobb. The 24-year-old was drafted as a center fielder and converted to second base in 2018.
Jones’ 2021: Jones hit .243 with 11 home runs and 37 RBIs in 70 games for Norfolk. He’s shown speed, stealing 11 in 14 attempts, but needs work in the second, where he’s made eight errors in 53 games.
Jones batted just .149, with three RBIs, in 26 games with the Orioles. He batted 26 times and only had four walks. He made three mistakes.
Outlook: Jones has a chance to make the team, but he’s limited as he hasn’t played any other position on the pitch. His ability to play in the outfield is a plus. Jones has one remaining option.
Fund: Martin was the Orioles’ first overall selection in the December 2018 Rule 5 draft. He was kept on the major league roster as the team’s regular shortstop throughout 2019 and reached .208 with six home runs and 23 RBIs in 120 games. He stole 10 bases in 11 attempts.
Martin missed the 60-game season in 2020 after breaking his right wrist.
Martin’s 2021: After a delayed start to spring training due to hamate bone surgery, Martin, who was expected to play regular shortstop at Norfolk, broke his left wrist in May while playing on the center field.
After recovering, the 27-year-old played 37 games for the Orioles, hitting .235 with one home run and eight RBIs. Martin was dropped from the 40-man roster in November and sent to Norfolk altogether.
Outlook: The Orioles guessed that Martin would not be claimed on waivers, and he will have another chance to make the team as an unlisted player. Martin needs to have a good spring training to stay afloat.
Fund: Nevin was acquired along with infielder Terrin Vavra from the Colorado Rockies in August 2020 for reliever Mychal Givens. Nevin played corner spots in the infield and outfield in the minor leagues.
2021 from Nevin: Nevin hit .227 with 16 home runs and 52 RBIs in 111 games for Norfolk. He started 40 games at first base, 37 at third, 20 at left field, nine at right and seven at designated hitter. In two stints with the Orioles, the 24-year-old was 4 for 14 (.286) in six games with one home run and three RBIs.
Outlook: Nevin’s versatility is a plus, and his ability to play third base is helpful. If there are a few injured outfielders, he has a chance to make the team.
Fund: Vavra was acquired along with Nevin from Colorado as part of the Givens deal in August 2020. Primarily a second baseman, the 24-year-old Vavra also played shortstop and center field in the minor leagues .
Will 2021: A back injury limited Vavra to just 40 games at Double-A Bowie, where he hit .248 with five home runs and 20 RBIs. He also played eight rehab games. Vavra walked 29 times and had a .388 on-base percentage. He has a .304 batting average and a .405 OBP in the minor leagues.
He was placed on the 40-man list in November.
Outlook: On-base percentage and versatility are impressive, but Vavra needs to stay healthy to avoid being outflanked by other prospects.
Summary: Most of the Orioles’ top on-court prospects, including Gunnar Henderson and Jordan Westburg, aren’t on the 40-man roster and aren’t eligible. I did not include Greg Cullen, Cadyn Grenier and Mason McCoy because they are eligible for the Rule 5 draft.
Spring Training Tickets: The Orioles go on sale for exhibition games Saturday at 10 a.m. There are 16 home games scheduled at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, starting with a game against the New York Yankees on Feb. 26.and.
The Grapefruit League season ends March 27 when the Orioles take on the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Twelve afternoon games start at 1:05. There are four games at 6:05 p.m.: March 11 (Minnesota), March 16 (Tampa Bay), March 24 (Philadelphia) and March 26 (Boston).
To note: According to Baseball America, the Orioles are one of the eight teams with the most to spend in the international signing period that begins Saturday. They will have $6,262,600 to work with.
Call for questions: I will answer questions from the Orioles later this week. Please leave yours in the comments box or email them to: [email protected].