The Orioles are in the late stages of deciding which players will represent them with the Glendale Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League.
The only confirmation from the AFL is that minor league infield coordinator Dave Anderson will serve as manager. The Orioles brought him back to the organization in December 2015 after he left to manage Triple-A Salt Lake for one season.
Outfielder Austin Hays and infielder Steve Wilkerson would make sense as inclusions on the Glendale roster to provide more at-bats after injuries interrupted their seasons. Both players are under consideration and expected to participate.
Wilkerson has been on the disabled list with oblique and hamstring injuries. The hamstring could sideline him for a couple of weeks, but it’s still possible for him to rejoin the Orioles in September and receive a longer look as a potential super-utility player in 2019.
Meanwhile, the fall instructional league runs Sept. 13-Oct. 10 down in Sarasota, and the Orioles are tweaking the usual setup by creating three camps at the Ed Smith Stadium complex.
Probably qualifies more as an overhaul.
The regular instructional league camp returns, but there’s also going to be a hitting camp and a strength-and-conditioning camp with 18 players currently assigned to it.
“Obviously, it’s something new,” said director of player development Brian Graham. “It’s innovative and it’s exciting, and a lot of players are getting an opportunity to do things that suit them the very best.”
Double-A Bowie third baseman Ryan Mountcastle will be included in the strength-and-conditioning section after playing last year in the Arizona Fall League.
“There’s no baseball activities,” Graham said. “It’s just strength and conditioning for about two weeks and then sends them home on a good program to continue through the winter.”
Graham came up with the idea and vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson is assisting in implementing the strength-and-conditioning side.
“I was just sitting around thinking, ‘How can we make players better?’ And individualizing specific ideas for every player,” Graham said.
“We have some players who only need to work on hitting. The year before last, Wilkerson went down and all he worked on was his hitting and he had a great year swinging the bat. So, I thought, ‘You know what? We should do that with more players,’ so we’re going to bring a half dozen this year just for a specific hitting camp.
“With the strength and conditioning, we looked at a number of our pitchers and players who could use a conditioning program and could use a strength program. Paul Cater and Brady are both going to be involved in that.”
These players won’t participate in baseball activities.
The group on the 25-man roster is required to do them again tonight with the Orioles opening a three-game series against the Blue Jays.
The Orioles are 1-12 versus the Jays this season, going 0-10 at Rogers Centre. The baseball activities need to improve.
Manager Buck Showalter is hoping to get center fielder Cedric Mullins back in the lineup, but the rookie won’t be rushed after complaining yesterday of soreness in his hip. Hamstring injuries limited Mullins to 76 games at Double-A Bowie in 2017.
Typical of the Orioles’ luck this season that Mullins wasn’t available last night to be showcased to ESPN viewers. If the broadcast team was going to talk rebuild, Mullins had to be a central figure in the narrative.