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Minor league season canceled in 2020

The Orioles are making plans to keep their prospects and signed draft picks active and in developmental phase as Major League Baseball attempts to play a truncated season. There are no affiliates to aid the cause. The minor league season officially has been canceled due to COVID-19, with a press released sent out today to confirm what’s been known for a while. What’s never happened

Orioles sign second overall draft pick Heston Kjerstad

A third 2020 draft selection by the Orioles is under contract. The team announced today that it signed outfielder Heston Kjerstad, the second overall pick from the University of Arkansas. The biggest fish in their draft pond. Infielder Jordan Westburg, the 30th overall pick, and outfielder Hudson Haskin, the 39th, signed on Saturday for $2,365,500 and $1,906,800, respectively. Both at full slot value. Kjerstad has

More on the possible 30-man roster and new rules for 2020

The composition of the Orioles’ second camp roster is public knowledge. We’ve been able to identify the first 44 players set to gather later this week at Camden Yards. We’re just figuring out exactly what to call it. “Summer camp” and “spring training 2.0” are getting mixed reviews on Twitter. Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias used “summer camp” in yesterday’s Zoom with the media,

Elias: “So far we are expecting full participation”

Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said today that he anticipates having a full roster and staffs for the beginning of spring training 2.0. Camps open on Friday after testing for COVID-19 is conducted two days earlier. Multiple players on other teams already have decided to sit out the 2020 season, which is reduced to 60 games due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Nationals’

Reviewing the weekend’s activity

The past two days have been productive for the Orioles and media covering the team. An announcement was made Saturday afternoon on the signings of draft picks Jordan Westburg, their Competitive Balance Round A selection and the 30th overall pick, and outfielder Hudson Haskin, their second-rounder and the 39th overall. And yesterday brought confirmation on 44 of the 60 players who will be tossed in

Orioles announce 44 of 60 players in pool

The Orioles are preparing for their second spring training, or first summer camp if that’s the preferred description, by revealing the majority of their 60-player pool earlier today. Forty-four players have been announced and outfielder Trey Mancini goes on the 60-day injured list to leave the 40-man roster at 38 players. The injured list eventually will be reduced to 45 days, but Mancini won’t play

Wondering about free agents and arbitration-eligible players

With COVID-19 stalling the start of the baseball season until July 23 and 24 and owners tallying the lost revenue, it appears to be a most unfortunate time for a player to be entering free agency. The usual big spenders might be keeping those checkbooks closed. Especially if they find it more difficult to calculate income in 2021. Service time counts in 2020 no matter

Orioles sign draft picks Westburg and Haskin

The Orioles haven’t forgotten about their 2020 draft picks while plotting the construction of their camp rosters for the second spring training. The club announced this afternoon that it’s signed infielder Jordan Westburg, their Competitive Balance Round A selection and the 30th overall pick, and outfielder Hudson Haskin, their second-rounder and the 39th overall. Westburg signed for $2,365,500 and Haskin for $1,906,800 - both at

More questions surrounding the Orioles in 2020

The 2020 baseball schedule in all of its truncated glory may not become public until after the spring training report date of July 1. That would be Wednesday. Not this weekend. Everything is subject to change this year, including access to bars and public beaches. And spring training complexes, of course. But I’m not expecting to know the identity of the Orioles’ first opponent and

Orioles getting ready for roster redesign

Among the many details to emerge concerning the 2020 baseball season was the unfreezing of rosters today and the ability of team executives to resume making cuts and potential trades. The Orioles must create a 30-man roster for opening day, which will be held on July 23 or 24. It’s reduced to 28 players after two weeks and 26 after four. It was so long

A different pace to the 2020 baseball season

Baseball used to be a marathon and not a sprint. What does it become when 162 games are reduced to 60? The number still seems too large for a sprint, but it’s no longer apt to make comparisons to a marathon. Maybe it’s become the 1500-metre run. Kip Keino, Jim Ryun and Sebastian Coe could throw out the ceremonial first pitches. That should cover one

Bleier on staying ready for season and reconnecting with fans

Of the many questions that linger as baseball moves closer to a 2020 season, two of the most common are where teams will hold their second spring training camps and what’s a reasonable amount of time for pitchers to get ready. The Orioles are going to conduct their workouts in Maryland, whether strictly at Camden Yards or spread out to include one or more of

Taking another quizzical look at the Orioles and baseball

There won’t be baseball until late July or 2021, depending on the Major League Baseball Players Association and COVID-19. They must work in tandem after the union voted 33-5 yesterday against the owners’ latest and final proposal. Teams voted unanimously last night to go ahead with a 60-game season under terms of the March 26 agreement. Players have until 5 p.m. today to let MLB

More delays on deciding whether 2020 season can be played

Players reportedly were going to wait until today to vote on the latest proposal from ownership for a 60-game season, 10 short of their desired total. Then they were actually going to vote yesterday, per multiple reports. And then they didn’t, per multiple reports. Isn’t this fun? The latest outbreak of positive COVID-19 tests is going to push back the possible start of spring training

Remembering some sports disagreements with my dad

Today marks the second Father’s Day since my dad passed away in January 2019. It’s supposed to get easier, I’m told. Except for the people who tell me that it never gets easier. Guess I’ll find out. I’ve shared how he took me to my first baseball game in 1971 at Memorial Stadium. Game 2 of the World Series, with the Orioles winning 11-3 after

Leftovers for breakfast

One of the players signed by the Orioles as an undrafted player is a two-way talent. They already know how they’re going to develop him in the minors, but it’s nice to have options. Isaiah Kearns of Pittsburgh-Johnstown is listed as a right-handed pitcher and left fielder. He put up impressive numbers across the board in 2020 prior to the shutdown, slashing .400/.507/.764 with eight

Is the DH destined to be done in both leagues?

I’m going to be accused of American League bias. I don’t care. A universal designated hitter is coming to Major League Baseball in 2020 and 2021. If owners get their way, of course. It’s in the proposal - or the agreement, depending on which term you’ve adopted. There’s a sense that the new rule will carry beyond 2021. That pitchers will keep their bats in

Orioles selling #F16HT T-shirts as latest gesture of support for Mancini

The Orioles keep finding creative ways to offer their support for outfielder Trey Mancini since his diagnosis of Stage 3 colon cancer in March. More than just the phone calls and video messages that were arranged after baseball shut down and teammates returned home. The latest gesture also will benefit the Colorectal Cancer Alliance. The Orioles announced today that they’re selling #F16HT T-shirts, with the

Optimism on the rise for a 2020 season (plus notes)

This is going to happen. There’s going to be a baseball season. At least until I refresh Twitter. Truth be told, I’m so certain of it that I’m already deciding whether to eat dinner at home before heading to the ballpark or packing a sandwich. We’ll always wonder why commissioner Rob Manfred and Tony Clark, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, didn’t

Can Orioles’ first-round draft picks win a championship?

If the Orioles can complete their rebuild project and become perennial contenders, which is how it’s supposed to play out, there could be a handful of first-round draft picks to hoist the World Series trophy. A team can dream. Adley Rutschman is supposed to be behind the plate for pitchers Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall. Maybe Cody Sedlock as well, though he’s much lower on

Mayo carries weight of tragedy through his baseball journey

The innocence and feelings of invincibility that are common in high school sophomores were lost for Orioles fourth-round draft pick Coby Mayo a little over two years ago. He can recite the exact date and time. They’re etched so deeply as to leave permanent marks. Mayo was attending classes at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., when a gunman, later identified as former

Eller on Servideo: “He’s got every tool you can think of”

The attitude is the first trait that really got Anthony Servideo noticed. Tom Eller, who would have been serving as Single-A Frederick hitting coach prior to the shutdown, got an up-close look at the Orioles’ third-round draft pick back in 2018. Eller was coaching the Maryland Redbirds in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League and Servideo had joined the team after his freshman season at

Who’s ready for a really short baseball season?

Baseball is going to be played in 2020. And you might actually recognize some of it. Negotiations appear to be done between owners and the Major League Baseball Players Association. Proposals have been rejected on both sides and talks are dead. The counter-offers and counterpunching will stop. We’ve reached the point where players are waiting for commissioner Rob Manfred to set the schedule, which is

Updates on Orioles signing drafted and undrafted players (more)

On the same day that teams are allowed to begin signing undrafted players, cleared to make some noise following the 48-hour quiet period, the Orioles have reached agreements with two of their selections from last week. Both are high school players chosen at the backend of the abbreviated draft. Both are over-slot. Right-hander Carter Baumler, a fifth-rounder from Dowling Catholic High School in Iowa, has

Remembering a Powell who won after leaving Orioles

While waiting for the commissioner to try to sell us on a season that will last about as long as spring training ... As I reviewed the list of past Orioles selections in the First-Year Player Draft, a yearly endeavor that illuminates the misses more than the hits, I stumbled upon a reliever taken with the 19th overall pick in 1993 out of Mississippi State.

This, that and the other

The Orioles didn’t select a pitcher in the 2019 First-Year Player Draft until the College of Charleston’s Griffin McLarty in the eighth round. They kept bypassing the top-rated arms this week and choose Carter Baumler from Dowling Catholic High in Iowa in the fifth and final round. Are the Orioles duplicating the approach used by the Astros to build a World Series champion? It would

Orioles to pay minor leaguers through end of season

The 2020 Minor League Baseball season is likely to be canceled as the sport remains shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the Orioles have made the decision to continue paying the players’ stipends through the rest of the schedule. The team made the announcement earlier today. The final day of the regular season would have been Sept. 7, but the spring training camps

Hudson Haskin: “Couldn’t think of a better fit”

When Hudson Haskin’s world shut down in March, lives changing in drastic measures due to the coronavirus pandemic, he had no idea whether he’d play college baseball again. And whether the impact on his status in the First-Year Player Draft would be minimal or severe. Like so many other people around the world, all he could do was wait through it and count his blessings.

Baseball’s shutdown impacting prospects and draft picks (updated)

Two days of the First-Year Player draft provided the ideal distraction from the back and forth between ownership and the Major League Baseball Players Association. Barely a peep about the length of a proposed season, percentages of prorated pay and an expanded playoff format that could shove 16 teams into October. And now, back to our regularly scheduled bickering, already in progress. Selecting players from

Orioles take Haskin 39th, Westburg talks selection (updated)

The wait for the Orioles to select a pitcher in the 2020 First-Year Player Draft is continuing. They passed yesterday on the arms with the second and 30th overall picks and used the 39th this afternoon in the second round to nab Tulane outfielder Hudson Haskin. MLB.com ranked Haskin, who’s sophomore-eligible, as the 74th-best talent in the draft. But Baseball America had him 211th. Haskin,

Reflecting on past drafts and more from Elias

The Orioles made the first round of the 2019 First-Year Player Draft a breeze for the beat crew. They didn’t pull any surprises. They didn’t choose a player who required a hasty Google search or leave us frantically tearing through the pages of Baseball America’s preview issue. Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman was the obvious choice two years ago as the first overall selection, though

Elias calls Kjerstad “the best left-handed hitter in the country”

The Orioles knew fairly early in the draft process that they were taking a position player. Executive vice president Mike Elias especially liked one pitcher, but not with the second overall pick. Not with so many intriguing hitters. Elias didn’t meet in person with Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad, who in the executive’s words was more of a dark horse candidate to join the organization. Their

Orioles select Heston Kjerstad with second overall pick (updated)

The second-best power bat in baseball’s First-Year Player Draft is headed to the Orioles organization. With their choices narrowed to five players heading into tonight, the Orioles passed on Vanderbilt’s Austin Martin and chose Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad with the second overall pick. The first surprise of the night didn’t take long to surface. Kjerstad, 21, slashed .448/.513/.791 with five doubles, six home runs and

Final pre-draft thoughts on the Orioles

Baseball has found its window to be active tonight beyond negotiations and hostilities with the start of the First-Year Player Draft. The festivities kick off at 7 p.m. on MLB Network and ESPN. Names will begin dropping off the virtual board, with Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson likely to go first to the Tigers. Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias indicated during Monday’s

Latest on negotiations for a 2020 season and more from Elias

The latest Major League Baseball economic proposal sent yesterday to the MLB Players Association assures that the 2020 season won’t start before July 10. And it heightens suspicions that we’re facing a 50-game schedule that, in the immortal words of heavyweight boxer Clubber Lang in “Rocky III,” is going to produce a paper champion. As first reported by ESPN’s Karl Ravech, ownership is now seeking

Elias says Orioles to choose among five players for first pick

With two days remaining before the start of the First-Year Player Draft, the Orioles have reduced the number of possibilities with the second overall selection but aren’t ready to pinpoint their preference. Speaking to the media today on a Zoom call, executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said the Orioles are “actively discussing” five players and probably won’t make a final decision until the day

More questions pertaining to Orioles roster

We’ll reach a point, if the 2020 season is to be played, when rosters no longer will be frozen. The Orioles can chip away at their 50. How much chipping is the question. Take a 30-man roster with a 20-man taxi squad and you’ve got 50. The math is indisputable. But the taxi squad could include pitchers and position players who were optioned prior to

Remembering a few brushes with greatness

A sportswriter walks into a bar and ... I’m not reciting the first line of a joke. I’m actually going somewhere with this. The sportswriter was me and it happened many years ago - so long that I can’t remember the exact location. I’m fairly certain that it was Sullivan’s Steakhouse, a few blocks from Camden Yards. But this isn’t the important part of the

Two more names to toss into the draft mix

As we binge on mock drafts, fight the confusion and wish that we could gain some clarity, the Orioles are attached to multiple players depending on the hour and who’s doing the predicting. The consensus in my informal poll remains Vanderbilt third baseman/center fielder Austin Martin with the second overall pick. But there’s some hedging. Baseball America’s Carlos Collazo and The Athletic’s Keith Law, to

Another lost weekend for Orioles during baseball’s shutdown

The Orioles are supposed to be hosting a weekend series against the Astros, but the 2020 season remains on hold. Fans were supposed to be gathering at Camden Yards to make trash can jokes and boo one of baseball’s cheaters. Or have we already forgotten the scandal that dominated spring training conversations until the shutdown? Until the coronavirus pandemic shoved it into darkness. Major League

Milone on workouts, health and uncertain season

Orioles pitcher Tommy Milone is spending his days and nights working out and finding tasks to stay busy at his home in Santa Clarita, Calif., a city that’s located about 45 minutes north of Los Angeles and known for its variety of roller coasters at the Six Flags Magic Mountain theme park. Milone should be used to the ups and downs. But his first year

Doing more with draft as Orioles decide on second overall pick

Exactly one week remains before the start of the First-Year Player Draft and absolutely no one knows who’s going to the Orioles with the second overall pick. The Orioles must wait until the Tigers choose ahead of them and most likely will lose an opportunity to select Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson. He’s expected to be the guy if he stays on the board,

Orioles issue statement against “racial bias and violent abuse”

The Orioles turned to social media today to join the chorus of teams speaking out against racial injustice in the country. The club released a lengthy statement this afternoon on its official Twitter and Instagram accounts. The avatars have been altered as part of the Blackout Tuesday initiative, promoted by activists to observe and push for policy changes following George Floyd’s death last week in

Dealing with baseball’s trade deadline

While owners and players keep digging in their heels and the threat remains that the 2020 season is going to be buried, I wonder about its structure if it can be salvaged. I’m waiting for clarification on the taxi squad beyond the expectation that it would hold 20 players. I’m waiting for clarification on the trade deadline. As in, will one exist? Major League Baseball

This, that and the other

The length of baseball’s shutdown is allowing players to heal and get deeper into their rehabs after sustaining injuries in spring training. It isn’t much of a silver lining, but let’s try to stay positive today. I’ve heard that reliever Evan Phillips, sidelined in early March due to a sore right elbow, is feeling much better. The long layoff and rehab process have brought positive

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