I think we started to see where Ryan Adams stood with the Orioles last year. He was called up twice from Triple-A Norfolk, but didn't get to start much at second base either time. During yet another losing season, the Orioles called up their own 2006 second-round draft pick but didn't give him much of a chance to show what he could do.
Yesterday, Adams was among the first players cut this year by the Orioles and he'll now head to Triple-A Norfolk. Adams is not considered a candidate to be a utility player and that also hurt his cause.
After the offseason additions of players like Ryan Flaherty, Steve Tolleson and Matt Antonelli, and with Robert Andino still on the club, it appeared that Adams had little chance to win a starting job at second base (assuming Brian Roberts can't go) this year, and nothing happened in camp to change that assesment.
Adams may have a major league bat - he did hit .281 in 89 Baltimore at-bats last year - but his defense has been criticized and he's not the athlete and lacks the speed of a player like Andino.
Right now, there just aren't many Oriole farmhands knocking on the door to the major leagues and certainly are not any knocking down that door. Now, with a manager and general manager that came from outside the organization, there just isn't any loyalty toward players originally from this organization.
Considering that this organization hasn't won anything for 14 seasons, some would say that is the reason for the lack of loyalty. The players coming out of the O's farm system have mostly not been good enough. Since last season ended, via trade and other moves, Matt Angle, Kyle Hudson, Brandon Snyder, Pedro Florimon, Greg Miclat, Tyler Henson, Chorye Spoone, Mike Ballard, Jose Diaz and Randy Henry are some of those gone from the O's minors.
If a player like Adams ranks behind the likes of Andino, Flaherty, Tolleson and Antonelli in talent, then he probably should be among the first cuts. Those players need to play so Buck Showalter can better judge them and Adams has to play to get ready for the minor league season. I guess in the minds of Showalter and Dan Duquette it's not about loyalty but talent - and who has more of it.
Fans get used to some of their own players and some fans were probably hoping that Adams, among others, would get more of a chance than this. But now he'll have to wait his chance and see if an injury or another player's poor performance leads him to another opportunity in Baltimore to see if he can get back in the mix.
As for what has happened on the mound, let's say it's too early to get carried away with anything we have seen from the Orioles so far, but the early progress of young pitchers like Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta and Chris Tillman is very encouraging. The trio has combined for nine scoreless innings over the last three games on just four hits and one walk with six strikeouts.
But let's face it: What really got our attention as much as the zeroes they put up is the velocity they did it with. Arrieta was reportedly topping out at 97 mph on Friday, Matusz at 94 mph on Saturday and Tillman at 95 mph on Sunday.
Did Dylan Bundy inspire this group?
More likely, some of their offseason work along with a clean bill of health is what the added mph is about. Maybe some of the winter work with Brady Anderson is now paying off.
Arrieta, well, we've always known he can put some speed on the ball. Matusz and his velocity dropoff last year has been much discussed. As for Tillman, his average fastball velocity had decreased three years in a row with the Orioles, from 92 mph in 2009, to 90.2 mph the next year and 89.3 mph last year.
Tillman is 7-15 with an ERA of 5.58 in 36 career Orioles starts. Heck, his ERA at Triple-A last year was 5.19. At a time when many fans have discounted him and somewhat written him off, maybe this spring he will author a different script.
At a time when it appeared that many of the young pitchers could be sent back to Triple-A with options remaining, maybe members of that group are trying to convince Showalter that they are his best option.
Too soon to get carried away, but not too soon to get intrigued by the early returns.