With the news coming out of Sarasota this week that Brandon Snyder will put the catching gear back on for a look at that spot in the big league camp, it reminds me of a topic we’ve discussed here before: defensive versatility in the O’s minor leagues.
We began to see some of it last summer. This year, we should see players at times playing somewhere that would not normally be their regular position.
For instance, first baseman Joe Mahoney played four games in the outfield at Single-A Frederick and nine at Double-A Bowie last year. Mahoney is expected to see time in the outfield again this season, maybe once a week or so.
Mahoney has the speed to play in the outfield and it never hurts to add to the resume.
Catcher Caleb Joseph played a handful of games at first base and left field last season. That should continue this year and he could also see some time at third base.
Ryan Adams played mostly at second base in the first half of last year at Bowie and a lot at third base in the second half. He could even work in some games at shortstop and maybe the outfield to increase his versatility.
In a strange stat with no rhyme or reason, Adams hit .357 with an OPS of 1.023 last season when playing third base and .277 and .750 when playing at second.
Ronnie Welty is an outfielder with a good arm who hit .282 with18 home runs and 82 RBIs last summer with Frederick. To add to his resume, he could get at least a brief look at a corner infield spot this year and maybe even try on the catcher’s equipment for a brief look there.
Keep in mind, none of this represents a position change for any of these player; rather, it just gets the organization a look. Some players could also try new positions in pregame drills to see if they could handle it later in a game.
To me this all makes perfect sense. The club should experiment with some of these guys while they are in the minors.
I have used Nolan Reimold as an example where the O’s didn’t experiment and I don’t understand why not. Last year, Reimold made 29 starts at first base at Triple-A Norfolk. Before that, he had played just one game in his minor league career at first.
Before 2009, Reimold had hardly played anywhere in the outfield in the minors other than in right field, yet the O’s had Nick Markakis entrenched in right in Baltimore.
Some of the O’s minor league talent may need to bring a couple of different gloves to the ballpark this year. And, that’s a good thing.
Minor league report dates: For your information, the O’s minor league pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to the Twin Lakes Park complex on March 6, with position players due to report on March 10. The first minor league games are set for March 16.
This year, all O’s home minor league games will be played at Twin Lakes Park. Last year, some were played at Ed Smith Stadium.
Somewhat useless trivia note: With Snyder trying on the catching gear in big league camp, I checked to see when he last caught in a game. It was on Aug. 2, 2006 for Short Season Single-A Aberdeen.
Snyder caught 27 games between Short Season Single-A Bluefield and Aberdeen in 2005 and 51 between Aberdeen and Single-A Delmarva the following season.