When I interviewed O’s Hall of Famer Mike Bordick this week to get his take on the club’s talented young infield prospects, he made some interesting points that involve the words "comfort" and "competition."
The first was used to show that when a club like the Orioles has so many talented young players, those players can see plenty of familiar faces in the clubhouse when they get to the majors. It greatly helps in their move to and transition to the big leagues.
Bordick returned a few days ago from a stint at O’s spring training, where he was a guest instructor for the club.
”Gunnar (Henderson) said it was awesome to come to the majors last year," Bordick noted. "He said there were so many young guys there he had already played with that it gave him some familiarity and the ‘We’re all in this together’ feeling. They are learning from each other and basically knowing there is another group behind them knocking on the door.
“I think there is an overall excitement with the young players that they are going to make an incredible impact on the Orioles, as they already have in kind of elevating the minors to the best in baseball. They want to have the same impact in the majors.
“You can’t say enough about the character of these young players. I think sometimes that gets overlooked, especially in this kind of showcase era. But the character, in my opinion, holds more weight than anything."
And Bordick said some of that starts with the club's very best young talent.
“Adley Rutschman really set the tone for that coming up through the minors and touching a lot of young players that were drafted around him," Bordick said. "Then getting called up and we all saw his immediate impact: The Orioles started winning and it was no fluke. People rally around that and this whole group has that same kind of character and mindset that is incredibly exciting."
The young, talented players also push each other to be better, and that is where the competition part comes in. They are not only competing with each other for roster spots, but competing to stay in the bigs when they get there, holding off prospects that will be following them. The O’s hope to bring wave after wave of talent to Baltimore with the big leagues' No. 1 farm system. That is what building an elite talent pipeline can do.
But being comfortable on the big league club and comfortable in the clubhouse, Bordick said, cannot be overlooked. In a sport where we have a stat for just about everything, we don’t have one for that aspect of a team.
“Oh absolutely (it’s big),” Bordick said. “And I think it lends a sense of comfort, a sense of, I don’t know, leadership in some way that they are all in this together. This young group of players drafted the last four years. They have this right and excitement to lead the franchise back to the promised land.
“Young players, when they can do it together as a group, it helps. But you also need that combination with veteran guys, and I think the Orioles have some quality veteran players on the team. And guys that have been through the ups and downs. Cedric Mullins is an incredible example of that. He went from struggling to just get to the big leagues to all the sudden becoming a star."
The first cuts of camp: Thursday's 7-6 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater leaves the Orioles at 5-7-1 this spring. And 13 games into their spring schedule, the club made the first camp cuts after yesterday's game.
The 12 players trimmed from the spring roster were all non-roster invitees, so no one was officially optioned out, as a 40-man roster player would be. But the dozen players were reassigned to minor league camp.
Those heading out included right-handed pitchers Wandisson Charles, Ofreidy Gómez, Morgan McSweeney, Kade Strowd, Cole Uvila, Chris Vallimont and Ryan Watson. Also reassigned were infielders Coby Mayo, César Prieto and Curtis Terry, outfielder Robert Neustrom and catcher Ramón Rodriguez.
The Orioles officially have 59 players (all 40-man roster guys and 19 non-roster invitees) on their camp roster. They have 55 players in camp while Cedric Mullins, Anthony Santander, Dean Kremer and Darwinzon Hernandez are off playing in the World Baseball Classic.