Will there be a logjam at the upper levels on the farm?

In a recent post I mentioned the possibility of Brandon Snyder and Josh Bell starting next year back at Triple-A Norfolk.

A lot can happen between now and next spring to change that, and the two players themselves could come to spring camp and force their way onto the Orioles roster next Opening Day.

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But if they don't and they start next April at Triple-A, those moves could have ramifications that impact some other good young players on the O's farm.

If first and third base at Norfolk are spoken for, does that mean that a player like Brandon Waring remains at Bowie to play third base? Does it mean Joe Mahoney would have no chance to open 2011 at Triple-A?

Even Ryan Adams could be blocked from moving up after hitting .298 with the Baysox. With Brian Roberts coming off a year where he played just 59 games, the O's might need to sign a veteran for second base at Triple-A as insurance if Roberts' health becomes an issue next season.

The Triple-A second baseman on Opening Day 2011 may need to be someone that could come up and play with Baltimore right away if needed. There are some in the organization that seem to feel Adams may not be Major League ready early next year, especially on defense.

What if the O's need to send Robert Andino back to Norfolk next year and he clears waivers to do it? That takes another spot in the Norfolk middle infield.

Meanwhile, what about behind the plate. Is Caleb Joseph ready to handle a Triple-A pitching staff or does he need more time at Bowie?

If Nolan Reimold had to start 2011 at Triple-A in an outfield with say, Matt Angle and Rhyne Hughes, a guy like Tyler Henson could have to go back to Double-A.

And if Brandon Waring is back at Double-A playing at third base, where does that leave Billy Rowell?

Surely he is ready to move up after three years at Frederick, but how many open roster spots will there be?

It's interesting to play out several scenarios and you can sure project a logjam between Norfolk and Bowie for roster spots.

Some might say that is good and is the way it should be at the minors. Others might be disappointed if some players coming off good years with the bat don't move up a level.

In 1970, Don Baylor hit .327-22-107 at Triple-A. He started the next year right back at Rochester and played most of the 1971 season there as well. Guess it was hard for a kid to crack the 1971 O's roster.

It's probably not as hard now as it was then but sometimes we think only of upwards movement within the minors and assume all players who had good years the previous season will move up a level the next year.

The higher up the farm system ladder you go though, the harder it can be to advance.

The competition for roster spots could be intense next March in Sarasota between Norfolk and Bowie. Maybe that is a good thing and means the O's minor league depth is getting better.

Mahoney update: Joe Mahoney played in his first game in the Venezuelan winter league on Wednesday, going 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. He batted fourth and played first base for Margarita in its 7-3 win over Magallanes.

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