While the Orioles were playing the Toronto Blue Jays over the weekend at Rogers Centre, a catcher from their farm system was soaking in the big league experience, even though he was not on the active Orioles roster.
Catcher Cody Roberts joined Tyler Nevin and Logan Gillaspie as taxi squad players for the series. For Roberts, 26, it was his third time this season on the taxi squad that includes a trip to Boston earlier and a seven-game stretch in late June at the Chicago White Sox and Seattle and this past weekend.
“It’s really cool. You get to be around the clubhouse, get to be around the guys. You see kind of the culture that is being built here right now. It’s been a cool experience,” Roberts said of being on the taxi squad.
An 11th round O’s draft pick in 2018 out of the University of North Carolina, Roberts had a huge hit on the final day last year that helped propel Double-A Bowie to the 2021 Eastern League playoffs. This season, in 80 games mostly with Bowie but with a handful of games at Triple-A Norfolk, he has hit .271/.348/.429/.777 with eight homers and 42 RBIs. He is expected to rejoin Norfolk to end the regular season.
And there is an added bonus as a catcher on taxi squad. Unlike the others, he could stay once the games start and help out pitchers in the bullpen.
“Yeah, I’m in the bullpen. So, I’m able to warm up some pitchers and stuff. Non catchers, like Nevin and Gillaspie, have to go back to the hotel. Or they can stay in the lockeroom. Little added perk for me,” Roberts said.
He added that there is plenty for a player to gain while being on taxi squad.
“Building that camaraderie with the team. Obviously, I’m not active on the roster, but just being around the guys and talking to them and learning from them is beneficial. So is being a catcher able to catch guys in the bullpen. Learning what they like to throw. And their routines before they go into a game, like big situations in the eighth and ninth, see how these guys handle that," he said.
Can he take batting practice with the team while on taxi squad?
“It kind of depends on the day. I can hit in the cage, but in terms of being on the field it’s more depending on what those guys need. Like whether they want to take a day off from the field. Or like (Sunday), with an early day game, we are not even going to hit on the field. But I get to hit in the cage,” he said.
And no doubt, getting chosen to be on the taxi squad can be good for a player’s career. The Orioles have a number of catchers they could have chosen to join them in Toronto and Roberts was the one that got the call.
“I think it is a good thing for my career for sure. It’s nice because you are getting a little taste of it. You are not quite here, but you are getting a little bit of a taste. Keeps you hungry and pushes you to work harder,” he said.
O's blanked at the Yard: The Orioles have now been shutout in back-to-back games at Camden Yards for the first time since Aug. 4-5, 2020. They are also now 0-4 versus Detroit this year after last night's 11-0 loss.
Now they are five games back of Seattle for the final wild-card spot with just 16 games to play. Seattle though holds the tiebreaker over the Orioles.
The Birds were held to just two singles Monday night and have been held to five hits or less for the fifth time in 10 games.
On the farm: The Orioles high A Aberdeen IronBirds affiliate will host Bowling Green tonight at 7:05 p.m. at Ripken Stadium. It's Game 2 of the best-of-three South Atlantic League Championship Series. Aberdeen lost the series opener 5-3 Sunday afternoon, and they need to win the next two nights to claim the league championship.
Triple-A Norfolk has been red hot with nine wins in its last 11 games and 17 in the last 22. The Tides (71-70) have scored nine runs or more in six of their last seven games. They have nine games remaining and play at Durham tonight to begin a six-game series.