Kjerstad recounts his small world moment

Kjerstad recounts his small world moment
Heston Kjerstad won't claim that he never forgets a face, but the young outfielder was certain that he recognized one of the players who showed up in Sarasota last month to work out at the minicamps for hitters. The stranger wasn't at the fall instructional camp. He wasn't in the organization until January. Who was this guy? A little detective work revealed his identity and proved again that it's a small baseball world. Kjerstad already lived the coincidence of being teammates with...
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Catching up with Heston Kjerstad

Catching up with Heston Kjerstad
Heston Kjerstad has outlasted the two hitters minicamps in Sarasota. The outfielder reports daily to the Ed Smith Stadium complex for workouts, slowly recouping those at-bats lost after a diagnosis of myocarditis in 2020. The facility is a second home to the University of Arkansas product, who first received an invitation to the fall instructional camp that ran from Oct. 18-Nov. 20. He went back to Fayetteville for a while and arranged sessions with his hitting and conditioning coaches - "a...
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This, that and the other

This, that and the other
Representatives for Major League Baseball and the players association will meet again on Saturday, at which time we finally should get confirmation whether the start of spring training is going to be delayed. That's the expectation, and has been for a while. But commissioner Rob Manfred wasn't ready to concede it yesterday during his media session at the owners' meetings in Orlando. "We understand where the calendar is," Manfred told reporters. "Until we have that conversation and see...
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Wondering how O's configure camps in spring training (updated)

Wondering how O's configure camps in spring training (updated)
The planning that goes into setting up spring training again grows more complicated with the expected delay in pitchers and catchers reporting. An announcement could be made as early as today, according to reports. The Orioles are in the process of figuring out how they're going to operate under these conditions. We'll get confirmation whether minor league camp remains at Twin Lakes Park, which is supposed to signal a return to normal after 2021, and on the report date. I'm curious about...
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Nothing normal about Hyde's first three seasons with O's

Nothing normal about Hyde's first three seasons with O's
Orioles pitchers and catchers are supposed to report to the Ed Smith Stadium complex in less than a week. Six days, to be exact. With forecasted temperatures reaching the upper 60s. Cold by Sarasota standards, but not as icy as the talks between Major League Baseball and the players association. Everyone is waiting for official word that the start of spring training is delayed. Hammering out a new collective bargaining agreement and making the necessary arrangements to get players into camp...
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Looking back at Mattson's 2021 season

Looking back at Mattson's 2021 season
Reliever Isaac Mattson was counted among the 16 Orioles who made their major league debuts in 2021, 14 of them pitchers. He stood out for a few reasons, none that guarantee him a job this summer. Mattson appeared in four games - never more than one in a month, which seems highly unusual. His first major league outing was May 7 at Camden Yards, followed by opportunities on July 3 in Anaheim, Aug. 7 in Baltimore and Oct. 1 in Toronto. That's one way to spread the wealth, though I believe the...
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A few more surprising developments

A few more surprising developments
Back on Dec. 14, when the lockout was still fresh and so was optimism for an on-time start to spring training and the regular season, I chose six decisions made by the Orioles after the final game that qualified as surprises in my corner of the baseball world. It was perhaps the first time that I reached for a shovel and really began digging deep for winter story ideas. Fast-forward to this morning and my back constantly aches. I can barely get out of bed. But I don't want your pity. (I...
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Latest sampling of spring training storylines

Latest sampling of spring training storylines
Baseball remains in lockout mode, but representatives for ownership and the union met on back-to-back days. Communication is better than complete silence. My hot take. Per reports, Major League Baseball increased its proposal to raise the minimum salary for players with up to one year of service time from $600,000 to $615,000. MLB also proposed a $10 million bonus pool for pre-arbitration-eligible players, while the union has sought $105 million. Lots of work to be done, but this is...
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Who's the best guess for Orioles breakout player in 2022?

Who's the best guess for Orioles breakout player in 2022?
Before we can toss out ideas for an Orioles breakout player this season, we first need to rummage through the qualifications. Cedric Mullins made it easy in 2021. The April demotion in 2019 and inability to claw his way back to the majors. No assurances that he'd hold onto the center field job last spring. The first 30/30 season in franchise history, along with an All-Star berth, Silver Slugger Award and ninth-place finish in Most Valuable Player voting in the American League. And so on and...
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Highest-ranked Orioles prospects should make 2022 more palatable

Highest-ranked Orioles prospects should make 2022 more palatable
One of the club records set by the Orioles last year, the kind that typically is chased by non-contenders while other teams are in pennant races, was the 16 players making their major league debuts. The previous high was 15 in 2018, when the Orioles finally heard the window slam shut - it no longer could be muffled - and began dismantling. They're still rebuilding from it. A few prospects were introduced, the pitchers led by Zac Lowther, Mike Baumann and Alexander Wells. Many others were...
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Leftovers from the mailbag

Leftovers from the mailbag
Dumping the contents of my mailbag last week was an incomplete task. A few letters stuck to the bottom. How is this possible? Maybe from using the bag to make caramel apples over the holidays. That's one theory. Let's avoid overthinking it and just get to the core of the issue. Here are a few more questions, posted word for word. If you need more clarity or the length challenges your attention span, I can't help you. If Rougned Odor wins the second base job, who will be at third base?...
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Neustrom and Dorrian getting extra looks at minicamp

Neustrom and Dorrian getting extra looks at minicamp
The Orioles opened their second January minicamp yesterday, and the first for hitters, with a modest invite list that featured six of their top 11 prospects per MLBPipeline.com. Four of the other prospects in the elite 11 are pitchers. The only position player who's absent right now is infielder Connor Norby, a second-round pick in 2021 who will participate in the second hitting camp that opens Tuesday morning. (Here's a reminder from earlier this week.) The current gathering is headlined...
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Another sampling of Orioles spring training storylines

Another sampling of Orioles spring training storylines
Orioles pitchers and catchers are supposed to report to the Ed Smith Stadium complex on Feb. 15. The date remains alive during the lockout, but is threatened by the lack of a new collective bargaining agreement. The ticking of the clock is getting louder. Edgar Allan Poe might write a short story about it if he were alive today. The sides reportedly will meet in person Monday, with the union offering its counterproposal. The first bargaining session since a video conference Jan. 13 I've...
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Conway on Stallings, Peek and Brnovich

Conway on Stallings, Peek and Brnovich
When the Orioles acquired pitcher Garrett Stallings from the Angels in the José Iglesias trade on Dec. 2, 2020, there were no professional starts to sift through. No professional data to digest. Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias knew Stallings from the University of Tennessee, targeting him in the previous year's draft before the Angels selected him in the fifth round. Elias kept tabs on the right-hander while Los Angeles shut him down that summer and COVID-19 forced the...
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Because You Asked - A New Era

Because You Asked - A New Era
What's better than a midweek mailbag? Basically anything, but it's not up to me to supply the questions here. That's your job. The fans have spoken - or written. They won't be ignored or put in the corner. I present to you the latest sequel to the original. You ask, I answer, you ask again, I answer again. It's the same old story, same old song and dance, my friend. We don't edit for anything. What you send is what I post. OK, maybe a word or a comma ends up on the cutting room...
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Rutschman, Kjerstad, Cowser headline next minicamp (plus notes)

Rutschman, Kjerstad, Cowser headline next minicamp (plus notes)
With the pitching minicamp wrapping up over the weekend in Sarasota, the Orioles are ready to conduct two others geared toward hitters in their organization. The breakdown puts more experienced and higher-profile prospects in the first camp, which begins on Friday, followed next Tuesday by a gathering of newer, younger players. The initial wave will consist of first-round selections Adley Rutschman, Heston Kjerstad and Colton Cowser, along with Kyle Stowers, Gunnar Henderson, Jordan Westburg,...
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More on Orioles' signings and releases

More on Orioles' signings and releases
The noticeable increase in international spending by the Orioles included six-figure bonuses for Edwin Amparo and Leandro Arias. They have more in common than cash. Amparo ($650,000) and Arias ($600,000) are Dominican-born shortstops. They're teenagers and switch-hitters, with the latter ranked as the No. 46 prospect in MLBPipeline.com's Top 50 list. Here's what the club said about both players in Saturday's news release announcing the 24 signings: Arias, 16, is a shortstop prospect...
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Reviewing the latest news from the Orioles

Reviewing the latest news from the Orioles
Who needs major league roster moves when a team can stir up its fan base with adjustments to the ballpark's dimensions and an historic day of international signings? Reaction to the former has been mixed on social media. It's much harder to argue an organization's willingness to spend proficiently in the foreign market after years of resistance. And honestly, the latter is much more important. The Orioles made a big splash by doing a cannonball into the international pool. They spent the...
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Grayson Rodriguez also bringing value off the field (updated)

Grayson Rodriguez also bringing value off the field (updated)
Seven of the first 10 picks in the 2018 draft were position players, just as the Orioles anticipated. They knew there would be no shortage of pitching at their disposal. They had lots of appealing options with University of Florida right-hander Brady Singer, prep left-hander Matthew Liberatore, prep right-hander Cole Winn and South Florida lefty Shane McClanahan on the board. The industry was thrown a curve with the announcement that the Orioles selected right-hander Grayson Rodriguez of...
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Conway on Lucas: "He gave us a lot out of the bullpen"

Conway on Lucas: "He gave us a lot out of the bullpen"
The non-tender deadline in 2019 brought a trade that wasn't popular with Orioles fans who still vented over the decision a week earlier to place infielder Jonathan Villar on waivers. Villar wasn't coming back with an estimated arbitration raise pushing his salary to $10.4 million. The Orioles were motivated to move him for the right return, which turned into left-hander Easton Lucas. "It's hard to let him go, but we've got to keep an eye on our strategic objectives, which prioritize the...
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