No one can judge a trade after only four games and no one is ready to anoint Jonathan Villar as an ideal successor to second baseman Jonathan Schoop. The Orioles don’t know whether he’s starting at the position for the remainder of the season and into 2019 and whether he’s the top choice to bat leadoff based on his ability to swipe bags. But the early returns on Villar are favorable and the sample size is irrelevant.
These are early returns. They don’t need to stretch over two months to fit in the category.
Villar was in the Brewers’ lineup for only three of his last 10 games before the trade. He started all four games in Texas and went 8-for-17 with a home run, two RBIs, a walk and four runs scored. He also stole a base in Sunday’s win.
The job belongs to Villar by default but at least he’s seizing the opportunity. Jace Peterson has made most of his starts at second base, but he’s been more valuable in a utility role. He’s played second base, third base, shortstop, left field and right field. He’s also batting .203/.324/.342 in 66 games with the Orioles.
(Don’t compute his OPS if you’re skittish.)
Renato Núñez is 14-for-43 (.326) with seven doubles and seven runs scored in 12 games since the Orioles selected his contract from Triple-A Norfolk. He’s 10-for-20 with four doubles this month.
Whether Núñez has a chance to become the regular third baseman depends on his defense, which is graded as below-average by various scouts and officials.
* Alex Cobb is making his fourth start against the Rays this season and his first at Tropicana Field since signing a four-year contract with the Orioles in spring training.
Cobb is 0-3 with a 6.06 ERA and 1.653 WHIP in three starts against the Rays covering 16 1/3 innings. He’s allowed 11 earned runs (13 total) and 25 hits.
Carlos Gomez is 2-for-11 against him. Joey Wendle is 4-for-8.
Wendle is 19-for-51 (.373) against the Orioles this season and 73-for-264 (.276) against everyone else.
The second half is treating Cobb was a gentler touch. He was 2-12 with a 6.41 ERA and 1.576 WHIP in 17 starts in the first half and has gone 1-2 with a 2.65 ERA and 1.353 WHIP in three starts after the break, with five earned runs allowed in 17 innings.
Cobb has registered quality starts in two back-to-back outings, three of four and four of six.
Right-hander Tyler Glasnow made 34 relief appearances with the Pirates this season before going to the Rays with outfielder Austin Meadows in a non-waiver deadline trade for starter Chris Archer. He worked three innings in a start against the Angels in his debut and allowed one run and two hits with five strikeouts.
Right-handers are hitting .208 against Glasnow this season and left-handers are hitting .245.
Glasnow is making his 19th major league start, but he’s never faced the Orioles. Villar is 1-for-4 with a walk.
Glasnow started against the Orioles in a March 2 exhibition game in Sarasota and allowed a run in the first inning on Trey Mancini’s single and Manny Machado’s RBI double. He was slated to face them again on March 12 in Bradenton, but he was scratched due to flu-like symptoms.
* The Orioles are expected to announce six international signings later today.
Dominican shortstop Moises Ramirez, 16, has been confirmed. Other players from the Dominican and at least one from Curaçao should join him in the first round of signings.
The Orioles also have reached agreement with at least one player from Venezuela.
* Double-A Bowie catcher Martin Červenka was chosen as the Eastern League’s Player of the Month for July.
Červenka batted .364 (24-for-66) in 20 games with five doubles, seven home runs, 25 RBIs, 11 runs scored, a .436 on-base percentage and a .758 slugging percentage.
The Orioles selected Červenka, who turned 26 on Friday, in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft. He was born in the Czech Republic.