More of what we’re missing without the majors

The weekend was supposed to conclude another month of baseball, most likely leaving the Orioles at the bottom of the division standings, but we’ll never know.

We do know what happens when we assume.

It isn’t about wins and losses in a rebuild, the reminders coming at us like line drives. However, we could have checked on the progress of some important players in the organization. Players who are supposed to be pieces rather than placeholders moving forward.

Under normal circumstances, if we can remember how they look, we’d have a pretty good feel for whether Austin Hays is ready to be the everyday center fielder.

Cedric Mullins didn’t make it through April last season before the Orioles optioned him to Triple-A Norfolk. He spent the rest of the summer in the minors.

Hays would have to stay healthy, putting an end to the freakish injuries that sidelined him in the past. He looks like a special talent, one of those toolsy guys who can win games with his bat, legs and glove.

We’d also be able to measure Anthony Santander’s progress as one of the corner outfielders. He showed a lot of promise in 2019, both at the plate and in the field - the 20 doubles and 20 home runs stood out - but he also posted a .297 on-base percentage and occasionally slipped into some bad habits.

Santander impressed in spring training by going 10-for-30 with four doubles and a home run. He would have been the primary starter in left field or in right, with Trey Mancini recovering from colon cancer surgery.

We’d be making references to a “sophomore slump” with John Means. Whether he avoided it or fell into its trap.

Either way, the phrase was going to come up.

My guess is that Means would dodge it like a water balloon. What he did last summer wasn’t a fluke. He worked hard at it, beginning with an offseason spent at P3 Premier Pitching & Performance in St. Louis.

He doesn’t seem to fit the profile of a one-hit wonder.

You think he is? Come on, Eileen!

Harvey-Delivers-Orange-at-KC-Sidebar.jpgWe’d know which reliever was designated as the closer. Hunter Harvey was the spring assumption. And we could judge him on it.

Zack Britton replaced Tommy Hunter in 2014, but the Orioles were playoff contenders. A rebuild could lengthen the leash on Harvey if he struggles, or manager Brandon Hyde and executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias could decide to protect him as he tries to become an established major leaguer.

Closers on losing teams have been compared to shiny hubcaps on a rusty car, but late-inning leads are precious. The Orioles would like to reduce the bullpen meltdowns that were prevalent last season.

In the middle and late innings.

The Orioles hadn’t decided on a backup catcher. If Chance Sisco headed north, we’d be critiquing his work behind the plate and the adjustments made as a hitter.

Sisco spent three days in California with renowned instructor Craig Wallenbrock, a pioneer in some new-age hitting concepts whose pupils include J.D. Martinez and Ryan Braun.

He might have spent the last six days of March and all of April and May on the major league roster. Again, we’ll never know.

The proposed expansion to a 30-man roster could allow the Orioles to carry a third catcher and increase Sisco’s chances. Pedro Severino is a given, but Sisco was competing with Austin Wynns, Bryan Holaday and Taylor Davis.

Adley Rutschman probably would have been assigned to Single-A Frederick, his major league debut expected in 2021. The shutdown and anticipated cancellation of the minor league season forces the Orioles to reconstruct the plan for him.

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