The Orioles are expected to break camp again next spring with 13 pitchers and 13 position players. The same even split on their 26-man roster.
Six of them made their first Opening Day rosters – starter Kyle Bradish, catcher Adley Rutschman, infielders Gunnar Henderson and Terrin Vavra, outfielder Kyle Stowers and reliever Logan Gillaspie. Gillaspie is the only one who’s out of the organization, with the Red Sox claiming him off waivers Sept. 4 and the Padres selecting him Nov. 15.
Bradish finished fourth in Cy Young voting in the American League after starting Game 1 of the Division Series. He’s the staff ace.
Rutschman was an All-Star and Silver Slugger Award winner who placed ninth in Most Valuable Player balloting.
Henderson finished eighth, was voted Rookie of the Year and also won a Silver Slugger. And he’s only going to get better.
That leaves Vavra and Stowers, who have their work cut out for them if they’re heading north to Baltimore for the March 28 opener against the Angels.
The Orioles outrighted Vavra to Triple-A Norfolk on Nov. 14 after he cleared waivers, removing him from the 40-man roster. He ended his season on the 60-day injured list with a right shoulder strain.
The good news for Vavra was the major league paycheck after the Orioles first had to recall him. They transferred him to the 60-day on Sept. 14 to make room for outfielder Heston Kjerstad on the 40-man.
Vavra played in 27 games with the Orioles and batted .245/.315/.245. The assumption here is that he’s a spring training invite with a healthy shoulder who competes for a utility job.
Stowers is on the 40-man but now behind Kjerstad and Colton Cowser, two other left-handed hitting outfielders ranked third and second, respectively, in MLB Pipeline’s top 30 Orioles prospects list. He went 2-for-30 over 14 games after going 13-for-48 with four doubles, a triple and 10 RBIs in 18 spring training games.
The Orioles are likely to bring in a right-handed hitting outfielder to balance a group that leans hard to the left, but Stowers can try to impress again in camp.
Failing to make the club would stamp Stowers’ ticket to Norfolk, where he’d be a power-hitting option if the Orioles needed an outfielder.
* Here’s a leftover that doesn’t involves turkey, stuffing or a casserole.
The Orioles signed left-hander Jakob Hernandez to a minor league deal last week and assigned him to Norfolk.
Hernandez is 27-years-old and hasn’t pitched in the majors since the Phillies selected him in the 21st round of the 2017 draft out of the University of Texas at Arlington. He’s listed at 6-feet-4 and 260 pounds.
Hernandez appeared in only 19 games with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, registering a 3.52 ERA and 1.174 WHIP in 23 innings, before his transfer to the 60-day injured list on June 15 with a fractured right foot. He averaged 5.1 walks and 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings.
Strikeouts are a strength for Hernandez, who averages 11.2 in six minor league seasons. He owns a 3.16 ERA and 1.178 WHIP in 206 games.
Those games include only one start. Hernandez has closed, accumulating 24 saves.
Hernandez received a spring training invitation last year.
* The Orioles are hosting a drive-thru winter accessory collection today from 7 a.m.-1 p.m. at Camden Yards to benefit The Food Project.
The collection will take place in front of home plate plaza on the Russell Street service drive near Gate D. Fans can access it from Lee Street on the south side of the ballpark.
Fans wishing to donate are asked to bring new or gently used adult and youth sized coats, scarves, winter hats, gloves and socks. Participants will receive a complimentary voucher for two tickets to a 2024 Orioles home game.
The Food Project is a Baltimore-based organization focused on assisting food insecure community members and providing jobs and job training to the youth of Southwest Baltimore.
*The "Hot Stove Show" returns to MASN on Thursdays at 8 p.m. and runs throughout the offseason.
The Winter Meetings will provide additional content.
I'm joining Brendan Mortensen each week, and Steve Melewski will be a contributor to the program.
Also, the weekly “Orioles Hot Stove Show” returns to WBAL Radio beginning Thursday from 7-8 p.m.
The show will air live from Mother’s Grille in Federal Hill until the team reports to spring training, and then Timonium with some exceptions, per the news release.
Orioles' broadcasters Geoff Arnold and Brett Hollander will serve as hosts.
* The Orioles announced home game times for the 2024 season, including the introduction of 4:05 p.m. start times for all Saturday home games except for June 29 against the Rangers, with first pitch at 7:15 p.m. The 6:35 p.m. times introduced this year will be expanded to include all weeknight Monday-Thursday games throughout the season except for Aug. 22 versus the Astros, which begins at 7:15 p.m.
The March 28 opener against the Angels starts at 3:05 p.m.
The home schedule features 13 Saturday afternoon games beginning at 4:05 p.m., 29 weeknight 6:35 p.m. games and 10 mid-week day games. Home Friday night games will remain at 7:05 p.m. All Sunday home games are scheduled to start at 1:35 p.m.