As Orioles manager Buck Showalter waited to board his flight back to Dallas last week after spending a few days checking out prospects in the Arizona Fall League, he again brought up catcher Michael Ohlman's name without any prompting. He wasn't led in a particular direction during our brief phone conversation. He went there by himself.
Ohlman had another impressive game today for the Surprise Saguaros, hitting a three-run homer in an 8-6 victory over Salt River. He also walked and scored twice while raising his average to .357 with two homers and four RBIs.
Ohlman hasn't played above the high Single-A level, so it's too soon to project him as Matt Wieters' backup next season. However, he drew serious consideration for the organization's minor league Player of the Year award after batting .313/.410/.524 with 29 doubles, four triples, 13 home runs and 53 RBIs in 100 games with the Frederick Keys.
Ohlman turns 23 in December. Move him up to Double-A Bowie next year and see what happens.
Cuban outfielder Dariel Alvarez started in right field today and went 1-for-3 with an RBI, a walk and two runs scored. He's batting .233 (7-for-30) with five RBIs.
Alvarez's manager at Bowie, Gary Kendall, is writing out the lineup for Surprise.
"He seems to be getting better and better," Kendall said. "He doesn't have a whole lot of professional games with an affiliated club, but he puts the ball in play with authority. He's a good fastball hitter. He has power, and a plus-plus arm with plus accuracy. His throws are on the money. And he works hard."
Alvarez batted .436/.463/.641 with two doubles, two homers and seven RBIs in 10 games with Frederick this year. He went 6-for-31 (.194) with a home run in nine games at Bowie.
"He's primarily played right field for us here and he's done fine defensively," Kendall said. "He's a hard worker. He runs well. His English is something that we need to address as an organization, to improve upon his English.
"As far as his offense goes, he's had some really good at-bats where he's battled - lined out, driven the ball deep in the outfield. I don't really look at batting averages. I look at the at-bats. The day before, he put one good swing on a pitch. Now, he's starting to repeat that more frequently. He's building on his at-bats.
"He's been working on hitting the breaking ball in the cage, the off-speed pitches. He really enjoys the game and it shows. He's been progressing well out here."
Left-hander T.J. McFarland has made one appearance for Caribes de Anzoategui in the Venezuelan Winter League, tossing three scoreless innings in relief. He allowed two hits, walked none and struck out none.
The Orioles want McFarland to make some starts to build up innings and prepare to compete for a spot in next year's rotation.
One of McFarland's teammates in Venezuela, left-hander Chris Jones, hasn't allowed a run in 3 2/3 relief innings over six appearances.
The Orioles must put Jones, acquired from the Braves in April for reliever Luis Ayala, on the 40-man roster or leave him exposed in the Rule 5 draft.