It’s not a long list, and it’s subject to change, but here is the current list of Orioles’ players already playing or soon to be playing in winter ball leagues around the world.
Pitcher Brandon Cooney with Carolina
Pitcher Chad Thall with Zulia
Pitcher Eddie Gamboa with Mexicali
IF-OF-C Jake Fox with Licey
Pitcher Cole McCurry
Pitcher Brett Jacobsen
IF-OF Robbie Widlansky
OF Ronnie Welty
This group of four will soon arrive in Australia to play for the Perth team. Play begins in that league on November 6th.
Eight O’s are currently playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League. Included in that group are Oliver Drake, Pat Egan, Wynn Pelzer, Kam Mickolio, Ryan Adams, Xavier Avery, Caleb Joseph and Greg Miclat.
Tyler Townsend already has left the AFL due to a hand injury and Joe Mahoney left the Venezuela League with a sprained right wrist.
There are currently about 70 players taking part in the Orioles’ fall program at their academy in the Dominican. That program runs through mid December.
Coaches Gary Kendall, Denny Walling and Bobby Dickerson are there along with O’s director of international operations David Stockstill.
Among that group of players in the Dominican program is Hector Veloz, a 16-year-old third baseman signed by the O’s over the summer to a bonus reportedly worth $300,000.
Veloz was signed to a 2011 contract and did not participate in any games this past season.
While it is a good thing that these players are taking part in winter leagues, the small number must be of some concern to the O’s brass.
I’ve heard that club officials, including David Stockstill, worked hard to set up winter ball opportunities for many top players in the O’s minors, but most did not take the club up on the offers.
Some feel the players not taking part are missing out on golden opportunities to not only improve their game, but also show the club what Buck Showalter might say is their “want to.”
There is no doubt many players may have needed some time off and they can work on their games and improve themselves without playing winter ball. But playing in games is usually the best way to learn and get better while also showing the brass how badly you want to play in Baltimore someday.
The Orioles cannot demand the players take part in these leagues, the individual makes that call. I would think a team with 13 straight losing seasons, one that plans to build around young players, would have a longer list than this playing winter ball.