The Orioles aren’t going to confirm or offer up names of their coaching candidates or which players are headed to the 40-man roster this week prior to the Rule 5 draft. Sometimes it comes down to reading a little or a lot into non-denials, but this isn’t a foolproof plan.
Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias didn’t bite last week when I dangled Anthony Sanders’ name in front of him. FOX Sports reported that the Orioles interviewed Sanders for the job of first base coach, which became vacant after they chose not to retain Arnie Beyeler.
Here’s why Sanders makes sense:
He comes from the USA Baseball coaching staff, which ties him to new director of player development Matt Blood, who spent three years as director of its 18-and-under National Team Program.
He was a major league outfielder for parts of three seasons and works as the Rockies’ outfield and baserunning coordinator. Beyeler was the Orioles’ outfield instructor in addition to his duties as first base coach.
Sanders brings experience as a minor league manager and hitting instructor, and the Orioles like coaches with deep resumes.
He won an Olympic gold medal in 2000, which isn’t necessarily an important separator from other candidates, but is still an impressive achievement.
As for prospects who will be protected before the Rule 5 draft, there’s a lot of speculating and little else on the subject. However, it’s an absolute slam dunk that Ryan Mountcastle, Keegan Akin and Dean Kremer are placed on the 40-man roster.
With Elias responding to one of my earlier questions about the roster by saying he expected four or five players to be protected, the math indicates that there’s room for one or two more.
I’ll guess that the Orioles protect outfielder Ryan McKenna to maintain their outfield depth, though it’s a position of strength compared to others in the organization.
Former first-rounder Cody Sedlock is an obvious consideration. However, left-handed reliever Zach Muckenhirn, an 11th-rounder in 2016 out of North Dakota, also is in the discussion after appearing in 37 games with Double-A Bowie and posting a 3.21 ERA and 1.18 WHIP with a .203 average against and 65 strikeouts in 53 1/3 innings.
The analytics love this guy. Don’t sleep on him.
There are others, of course.
The only reason I’m not sold on pitcher Gray Fenter being vulnerable is because he’d be making the leap from low Single-A Delmarva to the majors.
Fenter was sensational with the Shorebirds, posting a 1.81 ERA and 1.102 WHIP in 22 games, including 17 starts, and striking out 123 batters in 94 1/3 innings. His stuff is really, really good. The kind that attracts other teams. But a kid can really, really get lost traveling from the South Atlantic League to the majors.
(Has anyone found Jason García?)
The problems for the Orioles are pleasant ones. Having more players worthy of consideration for the 40-man roster.
You can be certain that the Orioles, choosing second, will take at least one player in the Rule 5 draft. They’ll need more space on that roster, which can’t be full when they walk into the room.