Can Walker and Mancini coexist in Norfolk?

Jonathan Schoop would have made that play last night. Just saying ...

It’s way too early for Orioles fans to project starters at each position, with the free agent market still closed and lingering uncertainty over Chris Davis’ status for the 2016 season. However, it’s October and it’s fairly quiet in Baltimore and why not?

Adam Jones will patrol center field, Manny Machado will handle the hot corner, J.J. Hardy will remain the leader of the infield at shortstop and Schoop will continue his maturation at second base.

Did I miss anyone?

Caleb Joseph is the favorite to start behind the plate if Matt Wieters departs as a free agent, though it’s important to note that he’s still got a minor league option. It’s probably safe for Joseph to keep his bags unpacked, but he’s a position player who offers roster flexibility. It’s like finding a unicorn.

The Orioles want to re-sign Gerardo Parra and plug him into left or right field. They’re expected to keep Nolan Reimold on the 40-man roster and bring him to spring training, but does he start, back up at all three outfield positions or end up on the waiver wire or trade market?

Davis will cost a bundle to keep at first base, and the Orioles can’t have a fear of long-term commitment if they want him. We’re talking at least six years.

walker-at-bat-white-sidebar.jpgI’ve been asked whether Christian Walker or Trey Mancini could replace Davis on opening day. Anything is possible with more than three months left before spring training, but I’m not anticipating it. It may be a little too soon to go there.

I’m more curious whether Mancini would return to Double-A Bowie if Walker had to remain at Triple-A Norfolk. Mancini hasn’t played a full season in the Eastern League, collecting 326 at-bats last summer after moving up from Single-A Frederick. He batted a combined .341/.375/.563 with 43 doubles, six triples, 21 home runs and 89 RBIs in 136 games and was an easy choice as the organization’s minor league Player of the Year.

The unidentified runner-up needed an Uber to get close to him.

From what I’ve gleaned - that word again - the Orioles have no objections to placing Walker and Mancini on the same Norfolk roster. Mancini would benefit from playing at the Triple-A level as he continues his climb from eighth round draft pick in 2013 out of Notre Dame. They could alternate between first base and designated hitter.

Plenty of at-bats and field reps for both prospects.

I’ll stress again that the Orioles aren’t close to making roster decisions and both Walker and Mancini will compete for spots in spring training. Walker is on the 40-man roster, he put together a strong second half at Norfolk this year and his improved defense wins him points with manager Buck Showalter. He probably has a better shot at breaking camp with the team than Mancini, but he’s got more work to do.

The Orioles gladly would settle for having both players beating down the door over the summer.

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