The stands are empty. The players were in shorts and orange shirts with no names or numbers on the back. The atmosphere was relaxed.
But some important baseball work was going on. The O’s instructional league camp at Camden Yards resumed Thursday amidst warm temperatures and sunny skies at the ballpark.
There are 15 players taking part and some of the organization’s top young talent is on hand.
“It’s going great. Last year I got to take BP here. Having these prospects here is a great experience and hopefully we all move up together and win a championship together,” infielder Mychal Givens said.
“There is a lot of talent here, it’s very obvious,” O’s first base prospect Tyler Townsend said. “This camp is unbelievable, you know, they are treating us first class. It kind of puts an extra gear into your system to see all this. You work toward the big leagues, but you don’t realize what it is until you step on this field. It motivates you a little more.”
The players are using the visiting team clubhouse at Camden Yards.
“The first day we walked in there, the Yankees left that morning. It was like A-Rod could have used that locker. It was neat walking in there, seeing the clubhouse and stadium. There is no one in the stands, but you can imagine what it would be like,” Townsend said.
Connor Narron, O’s fifth-round pick from last June, said it was exciting to take the Camden Yards field.
“Being able to work out at a big league park, it doesn’t get much better than that. It’s a blessing just being out here, trying to get better. Anytime you get to play on a big league field, nothing is better than that.”
O’s top draft pick Manny Machado played in nine games this past season, two with the Gulf Coast O’s and seven with Aberdeen. He said that brief experience showed him a little something about his game.
“Got to get stronger. It’s a tough lifestyle, 140 games or something around there. Got to get stronger this off season to last the whole season.”
Machado hit .345-0-3 with a double and triple among 29 Aberdeen at bats. He said he hasn’t heard any talk yet about what club he might start next season with.
“I haven’t thought about that, they haven’t told me anything,” Machado said.
The 18-year-old Narron had what some felt was a pretty firm college commitment to play at North Carolina, but the O’s offered him a bonus of $650,000 and he signed.
He said it was still a tough decision for him.
“Being able to go to college, people say that is the best time of your life. Academically and athletically, that is one of the top schools in the nation every year, but what I’ve wanted to do my whole life is play in the Major Leagues. I feel like this was the right decision,” the switch-hitting Narron said.
Narron, out of C.B. Aycock High School in Goldsboro, North Carolina, hit .164 in 19 games this summer between the Gulf Coast League and Aberdeen in 67 at bats.