With the season starting up in only a few short days, Spring Training is finally coming to a close. All the roster cuts have been made, though many may disagree with the final results. Last time, we looked at the pitchers that had been cut this offseason; today, we are taking a glance at the hitters. Many names impressed this Spring; however, only a limited number could be taken to Baltimore. So, without further ado, here is my analysis of the Baltimore Orioles’ roster cuts….hitter’s style.
Was there any Orioles’ fan in the country who wasn’t pumped to see Matt Wieters come to the plate this Spring? The number one overall prospect in baseball proved that he was ready to join the big league club this summer, as he hit for a solid .333 average, with one homerun, five RBI, nine runs scored, and a .395 OBP. Many analysts and fans alike were expecting him to have a good Spring campaign, yet Wieters was sure to take it to the next level.
So where does the youngster go from here? It has come to our attention that the O’s plan to send him down to Triple-A Norfolk to begin the season, a smart move for the time being. He should stay with the minor league club until the team feels he’s ready (or until his arbitration clock is up). If anything, I’m expecting a late-April/early-May debut for the young stud. As for what the catcher needs to work on in the minors: Is that a serious statement?
This 27-year old left fielder did everything he could to win a starting job with the Birds; however, he was shunned the opportunity due to the Felix Pie acquisition. This Spring, he hit for a .340 average, with seven RBI, ten runs scored, one stolen base, and a .400 OBP. So what seems to be the problem? The answer is simple: Montanez has options; Felix Pie doesn’t. If Pie could have been optioned down to Triple-A Norfolk, I can surely say that the front office would have gladly done so. Montanez out-played most of the left field candidates this Spring, so seeing him in the farm system is a bit disappointing. Montanez even chimed in over at MASNsports.com on the subject:
“I think I’m beyond close. It’s just that the opportunity isn’t there right now. I know I’m ready to play. I feel like I could compete just as good as a lot of guys up there. Like yesterday, we were at the Mets game. There was a lot of chatter in our dugout about [Daniel] Murphy, how he’s a good player and he can hit. He’s going to be their starting left fielder, and I’m sitting in the dugout thinking, ‘He was in our league and I won the Triple Crown.'”
Don’t feel too down-in-the-dumps, though. The young outfielder should find himself on the big-league club once again sometime mid-season, and maybe even earlier depending on Pie’s performance. If there is anything that Montanez needs to work on, it is his defense. Over the past month, he has shown us a solid arm, yet he still lacks the speed an outfielder needs to succeed. If he is able to work on his agility while down on the farm, then he should make a fine starter in left field for years to come.
We are going to stay on the topic of outfielder as we move right along to Nolan Reimold. Reimold is another of the million people vying for a left field spot in Baltimore, and like Montanez, the youngster impressed mightily this Spring. He hit for a .321 average, with four homers (second on the team), eight RBI, seven runs scored, two stolen bases, and a .406 OBP. What the kid brings to the table is “pop”. We’re not talking about the kind of “pop” that produces doubles or triples. I’m talking about the type that makes the ball fly over the fence, and I know we all love that.
Reimold has the most power-potential out of any left-field candidate this Spring, something that should be considered as he attempts to make the club this season. Look for him to join the club sometime mid-season, and once again like Montanez, maybe even sooner depending on how Pie looks. So is there anything that he needs to work on? Besides gaining a little speed, there is nothing much to say. He is a solid hitter, has a right fielders’ arm, and looks poised to succeed at the pro level. Hey, they don’t call him a “right-handed Nick Markakis” for nothing.
My top candidate to be the future shortstop for the club, Turner failed to disappoint me in his first go with his new team. The 24-year old middle infielder hit for a .302 average, with three homeruns, ten RBI, seven runs scored, one stolen base, and a .348 OBP. The kid has been described as a “baseball rat”, and I wouldn’t doubt it based on his performance this Spring. The one thing I love about Turner is his power-potential. Remember last season when we had the five-shortstop merry-go-round put in the center of the Orioles’ circus? Do we also recall that we had little to no production in the power category from this spot? It didn’t get any easier this offseason, as the team brought in former Gold Glove Award Winner Cesar Izturis to man the position. So does that make us a better team offensively? No.
What the team needs is a player who can hit (for both average and power) while also playing solid defense for the team. This is where Turner comes in. The one issue that I worry about with him is, indeed, the defense. He performed well with the glove this Spring, yet it didn’t appear to me that he was at all challenged. We didn’t get a clear view at his range, something that a shortstop must have at the major league level. If he can work on his defense while in the minors, then we may just have a stud on our hands. Look for Turner to be called up sometime mid-season, and even earlier barring an injury. For all we know, this kid could be the starter in Baltimore before year’s end.
After impressing in his short stint with the O’s last season, he failed to follow up during Spring Training. Before being optioned to minor league camp, Oscar hit for a .260 average, with one homer, eight RBI, four runs scored, and a .316 OBP. Salazar appeared to be a front-runner to make the big league club as a bench candidate; however, he was overtaken by several moves made in the offseason. With the additions of Felix Pie, Robert Andino, Ty Wigginton, Ryan Freel, and Gregg Zaun, the team simply had no place to put the first baseman.
Another reason not to put Salazar on the squad is his age. He is now moving into his early 30’s, something that should keep him off of this up-and-coming Baltimore franchise. If Salazar were to make an appearance this season, it would be due to injury. Because there are only two primary first basemen on the roster, an injury to either one will free up a spot on the bench. Other than that, it’s Triple-A for the year. On another note, if I had to say one thing that he needs to improve on, its getting his confidence back. His power is evident, yet it almost seemed distant this Spring. Other than that, I wish you the best Oscar.
I have already touched on my future shortstop candidate, now we take a glance at my future third base candidate. Scott Moore impressed once again this Spring, as he hit for a .328 average, with three homeruns, eight RBI, ten runs scored, and a .369 OBP. The thing with Moore is this: He always seems to have a solid Spring campaign, then he seems to drop off a cliff come Opening Day. This was the case last season, as he would go on to hit for a .125 average with the big-league club before getting sent back down to the minors.
Now let’s get to the positives. The kid has some serious power (His first hit as an Oriole was a grand slam vs. the Red Sox.) and an average glove. I love the first part of that last sentence, yet the second piece irks me. All of this leads to what he needs to work on while down on the farm. There are two things that I would like him to improve: 1) His contact at the plate; and 2) His glove work. If Moore can ever be successful at the Major League level, he must first learn to be able to hit the ball consistently. With this, he will better his chances of staying on the club, while also watching his power slowly increase.
Regarding his defense, if he is able to improve, then he will be the front-runner to man the “hot corner” after veteran Melvin Mora is finished. So when should we see him with the club? I’m expecting a late-season call-up, or even earlier depending on Mora’s health. Now with former first-round draft pick Billy Rowell moving to left field, the future looks bright for Moore with the Birds.
Shockingly, this aging shortstop was one of the better hitters this Spring. Before being optioned to minor league camp, Cabrera hit for a .457 average, with four RBI, five runs scored, one stolen base, and a .469 OBP. The one thing that killed Cabrera’s chances at making the big league club was the recent Hayden Penn trade. This deal brought in Robert Andino, cutting off any opportunities for Jolbert.
He, like many of the O’s shortstops last season, has little power in his bat, something that is a turn-off to coaches and fans alike. So is there any chance that we see him this season? Possibly, barring any injuries. Then again, the club might decide to bring up youngster Justin Turner to man the position, so conditions seem unfavorable for the veteran. Also, there is nothing much that he can work on while in the minors. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he hung up the cleats all together before the year is over-and-done-with.
Other hitters who have been cut this Spring:
- Brandon Snyder
- Chris Gomez
- Justin Christian
- Robby Hammock
- Daniel Murphy
- Craig Brazell
- Blake Davis
- Adam Donachie
- Guillermo Rodriguez
- Melvin Dorta