The Orioles won’t stay quiet during the postseason. They haven’t shut down other than games no longer played.
Let’s do a little more reflecting on 2022, a season that brought so many unexpected highs and unavoidable lows.
I tend to zero in on anticipated story angles that didn’t develop, or energy wasted on certain topics because they seemed like a much bigger deal at the time. But it’s a mixture.
I’ve already noted how Matt Harvey never had his contract selected from Triple-A Norfolk, Gunnar Henderson earned a promotion despite his age, Yusniel Diaz stayed only for a cup of coffee, Rougned Odor lasted into September, we never saw Robert Neustrom, DJ Stewart didn’t make it back to the Orioles after three games to begin the season, Jorge Mateo was exclusively a shortstop, Bryan Baker stuck for the entire season, Nick Vespi will never give up another Triple-A run, Joey Krehbiel disappeared after almost going wire-to-wire, and Terrin Vavra could wear many hats next season.
Here are two more:
Jacob Nottingham didn’t get back to the majors.
The Orioles signed Nottingham to a minor league deal on Dec. 1, making him an early favorite to break camp as one of the two catchers.
Robinson Chirinos didn’t sign until three months later, which appeared to leave Nottingham vying for the backup job. This was before we were told that Adley Rutschman had a legitimate shot at making the club prior to his triceps injury going into camp.
The choice seemed to come down to Nottingham or Anthony Bemboom. The Orioles signed Beau Taylor on March 18, but he was more likely to provide Triple-A depth.
Bemboom’s left-handed bat was viewed as a potential tie-breaker and his contract eventually was selected. He won.
The Orioles signed Bemboom 15 days after Nottingham, the last time that he was runner-up.
Chirinos lasted through the entire season, first as the starter and then the backup to Rutschman. Bemboom was designated for assignment and outrighted after Rutschman’s promotion on May 21, his body of work consisting of 22 games and 59 plate appearances, with only six hits.
The Orioles didn’t place a catcher on the injured list this season. Nottingham joined them a few times on the taxi squad. That’s as close as he came.
Roster expansion in September was limited to two players, which pretty much killed the craving for a third catcher. Bring up an extra pitcher and infielder or outfielder.
The Orioles chose left-hander DL Hall and first baseman Jesús Aguilar.
Bemboom hit .228/.292/.350 in 34 games with Norfolk, threw out 29 percent of runners attempting to steal, and had his contract selected last week before he could test the minor league free agent waters. Again, chosen over Nottingham, who also spent time on the minor league injured list this year.
Six catchers reside on the Orioles' 40-man roster and Nottingham isn't among them.
Nottingham played in 89 games with Norfolk and batted .229/.333/.425 with 12 doubles, 15 home runs and 51 RBIs. He threw out 21 percent of runners attempting to steal.
The early favorite to catch for the Orioles might spend the winter trying to catch on with another team.
César Prieto’s 2022 ceiling was in Double-A.
It didn’t make total sense to me, but I remember reading it and writing it.
Infielder César Prieto, the Cuban defector who signed with the Orioles in January, could play in the majors this year.
The bat was advanced. He faced some legitimate competition. The Orioles were rebuilding.
Still seemed like a stretch to me, but it illustrated how much the Orioles were enamored with his tools and resume, with some scouts comparing him to Cubs second baseman Nick Madrigal. And how the media viewed the organization’s commitment to the international market.
I wrote about the possibility that Prieto could debut later this summer, without offering a confident prediction. Just that it wasn’t out of the question, especially with early projections from the organization that he could begin his U.S. career with a mid-to-upper-level affiliate.
The Baltimore Sun wrote that it “might” happen, depending, of course, on how quickly he adapted to baseball and life in this country and what happened to other infield prospects in the system.
The Orioles wouldn’t rush Prieto, but they could be more aggressive with him than a kid drafted out of high school.
Prieto, who turned 23 in May, received a $650,000 bonus from the Orioles. They assigned him to High-A Aberdeen and gave him one promotion, to Bowie on May 24.
About two weeks were lost early in the month with a Grade 1 hamstring strain, but Prieto batted .340/.381/.619 with six doubles and seven home runs in 105 plate appearances with Aberdeen. He hit .281/.333/.377 in June with the Baysox, and there was a gradual statistical decline, with Prieto slashing .163/.212/.245 in 12 games in September. Only four home runs were hit in 389 plate appearances with Bowie.
The Orioles assigned Prieto to the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League to continue his development. He gained experience moving around the infield rather than being the primary second baseman. MLBPipeline.com ranks him as the organization’s No. 18 prospect. All good stuff.
Eight infielders are ahead of him, led by Gunnar Henderson at No. 1. Four are in the majors or Triple-A.
Prieto stalled in Double-A, but that’s OK. Playing at two levels, with an early bump, is a solid debut in the U.S.