Rylan Bannon relaxed and "just playing ball"

After a canceled 2020 minor league season, surely 2021 would be the year that Rylan Bannon made his major league debut. 

In 2019, Bannon flashed every tool the Orioles had hoped to see when they acquired the infielder from the Dodgers in 2018. At just 23, Bannon thrived in 20 games at Triple-A Norfolk. The Xavier product flaunted a .317/.344/.549 slash line, good for an .893 OPS. Defensively, Bannon was versatile, getting reps at both second and third base throughout the year. 

When the 2021 season rolled around, it didn’t appear that Bannon would have to wait long to get a call to the bigs. Demonstrate the same promise at Triple-A that the 2019 season showed, and the promotion would come sooner rather than later. 

Things didn’t work out that way. 

“It was definitely not exactly how I would’ve drawn it up,” Bannon joked.

The infielder hit just .177 for the Tides last season, striking out 71 times in 84 games with an on-base percentage below .300. 

“Getting canceled in 2020 was tough for me, just losing out on a lot of those reps. It made for a long year and tough coming back from that that next season,” Bannon said. “Faced some adversity, had an oblique strain last year and dealt with some other shoulder stuff the remainder of the year, which made it a little bit harder to play.”

A prospect that many believed to have a high floor was suddenly surrounded by more questions than answers. So as 2022 rolled around, Bannon set out to prove that his down 2021 was the fluke, rather than the promise he showed in 2019. 

He did just that.

From 2021 to 2022, Bannon significantly improved his batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS and walk percentage. So, basically all of the good stuff. 

“Working through all of that is something I think I needed. Looking back on it, taking the positives away from it, it definitely made me stronger,” Bannon said. 

The solution to his 2021 woes, aside from the obvious benefit of staying healthy, was simpler than you could imagine. 

“I taught myself how to relax and just kind of play ball," he said. "After going through everything last year, I grew a lot from that. I learned a lot about myself and how to handle that adversity.”

When injuries hit the Orioles infield, Bannon was added to the taxi squad as just a “precautionary thing,” as Bannon put it. “Then boom, out of nowhere an hour before the game I get told I’m getting activated and getting a start at third base.” 

As the Orioles open up their series against the Tigers, the big league newcomer will once again get the start at the hot corner. With Bannon, Tyler Nevin and Kyle Bradish all earning promotions to Baltimore as we enter mid-May, we could be getting a sneak peak of a new era of Orioles baseball. 

The players are noticing too. 

“It’s awesome to see some of us get our opportunity up here," Bannon said. "It’s awesome for this organization, some of the guys that they thought the Orioles have a future with have started to make their way to the big leagues, and it’s awesome to see.”

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