As the end of August approaches and the Orioles continue to hold onto a seven-game division lead, the September call-ups this year will be of increased importance.
When September arrives, the Orioles’ roster can expand from the current 25-man group to the entire 40-man roster, with additions providing reinforcements down the stretch. Some of these key additions are having strong seasons with the Triple-A Norfolk Tides, who are currently sitting in second place in the International League South division with a 62-75 record.
* Evan Meek - The former Pirates reliever struggled in his 15 appearances with the Orioles earlier in the season, working to a 7.47 ERA. However, he has performed well with the Tides since, working to a 1.99 ERA in 38 appearances. Along the way, he has picked up 15 saves, proving he could still be of value in the later innings should the Orioles bullpen become overworked at some stage.
* Ryan Webb - The late-inning reliever who has previously played for the Padres and Marlins had looked great with the Orioles up until the end of June, working to a 2.48 ERA in 35 games. However, the month of July was a disaster, as he allowed eight earned runs in just 6 1/3 innings and was duly sent back down to the minors. He had been impressive with the Tides in his first eight outings, working to a 2.25 ERA, but he has given up four earned runs in his last 2 1/3 innings. Despite the slight setback, he could still be of value to the Orioles down the stretch if called upon.
* Steve Lombardozzi - Joining the Orioles just prior to the start of the season, Lombardozzi played in 20 games mostly during April, hitting an impressive .288 with two RBIs. With Buck Showalter opting to stay with the struggling Ryan Flaherty at second base, he was somewhat harshly sent back down to the minors in early May and since then, has hit .272 with the Tides while recording 26 RBIs in 71 games. In an organization that loves the longball, the biggest concern with Lombardozzi is his lack of power, as seen in his inability to hit a single home run this season.
* Jemile Weeks - The second-baseman has already had a brief stint with the Orioles this season, appearing in three games during late April and early May. While there, Weeks went a respectable 3-for-11 and played an important role in the O’s 3-2 win over the Royals on April 26. Since being sent back to the Tides, Weeks has been reasonably consistent, hitting .278 with one home run and 19 RBIs in 59 games. In addition, Weeks has also swiped eight bags and could be of value to the Orioles as a pinch-runner late in close games.
* Henry Urrutia - The outfielder played 24 games late last season for the Orioles after a remarkable season in the minors and during that brief stint, he was reasonably impressive, hitting .276 with two RBIs. Unfortunately, his 2014 season has been plagued by injury and he has become the somewhat forgotten man of the Orioles organization. Limited to just 44 games with the Tides, he hasn’t returned to his high standards of 2013. But a recent surge has seen his average rise to .267 with 13 RBIs. On Monday night, Urrutia went 4-for-4 against the Charlotte Knights and if his bat continues to remain hot, he could still be of some benefit to the Orioles next month.
* Steve Clevenger - The catcher started the season with the Orioles and performed well, hitting .240 with eight RBIs in 26 games. At the time, most thought he was unlucky to be the one making room for Nick Hundley in late May. Since being demoted, he has gone some way to prove he still has value, hitting an impressive .305 with two home runs and 30 RBIs in 64 games.
Others who have performed significantly well for the Tides this season, but are not on the 40-man roster:
* Right fielder Dariel Alvarez - 38 games, .303 average, one homer, 15 RBIs
* Center fielder Julio Borbon - 120 games, .290 average, five homers, 44 RBIs, 31 steals
* Shortstop Ivan De Jesus - 110 games, .288 average, five homers, 56 RBIs
* Left fielder Quintin Berry - 108 games, .283 average, three homers, 35 RBIs, 24 steals
What are your thoughts on the roster being expanded? Who do you think might be of significant value to the Orioles down the stretch as they push for a division title?
Daniel Clark blogs about the Orioles at The Big Leagues Daily from Melbourne, Australia. Follow him on Twitter: @DC_TBLDaily. His thoughts on the O’s appear here as part of MASNsports.com’s continuing commitment to welcome guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.