The Orioles are discussing how they’ll proceed with their 60-man player pool that currently has five open spots. The next meeting is going to be held on Monday, according to executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias.
The vacancies exist by design as the club determines how to fill them in order to provide insurance for the major league club and instruction for prospects.
“We visit the topic regularly,” Elias said during a Zoom conference call.
“I think we wanted to see how this early part of the season went with respect to keeping spots that are devoted to major league depth. Obviously, we have a lot more prospects that we would love to get there. That list is long and we’re itching to get those guys there as much as possible. But we’ll also have to be very concerned and mindful of making sure that we have the depth necessary to navigate any major league season but particularly this one, where the possibility of losing a lot of players very suddenly is greater than normal.”
Elias said it’s more important to have pitchers at the Bowie camp than position players because “there is a physical aspect to logging a large amount of innings that will bleed over to next year.”
Pitcher Ty Blach and utility player Stevie Wilkerson remain in the pool. Blach is done for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery and Wilkerson is out for a significant period with a fractured left ring finger.
“It’s not out of the question that it does become the whole season for how short the season is,” Elias said of Wilkerson, “which is really tough because this was going to be a good opportunity for him this year and he looked really good. It’s just a really unfortunate injury and unfortunate timing.
“We’re taking that day-by-day like everything else.”
The Orioles also determining which 2020 draft selections are priorities for the camp and which ones won’t be impacted as severely by their exclusion.
“Obviously, we’re considering everyone in our organization,” Elias said, “but it’s a tight squeeze and we’ve got to choose, so we’ll just kind of see where that takes us.”
Players at the Bowie camp are limited to intrasquad games. They aren’t permitted to travel for games against other teams.
The Orioles are figuring out how to proceed with the developmental process for players excluded from the pool. They aren’t allowed to work out at Prince George’s Stadium.
“There’s no concrete plans for it yet,” Elias said.
Elias said he’s hopeful that Ryan Mountcastle will make his major league debut later this summer.
“We’ve said this a lot, there are two big areas that we want him to focus on,” Elias said. “One is learning to play left field. We’ve been really impressed with how much better he’s gotten very quickly, given the fact that he was basically dropped into left field midway last year for the first time in his life, but he’s still got a ways to go there, and that’s a big focus of his work down in Bowie.
“And secondarily, a big right-handed power hitter like he is, a potential middle-of-the-order bat, his walk rates in the minor leagues have not reflected what you want to see and maybe would be some cause for caution in terms of major league success right now. I’ve talked to him about it and he knows it’s because he’s a natural hitter and he sees pitches and he wants to hit them and he can hit a lot of different pitches, and that’s very common in young guys that are just gifted natural hitability guys like he is. But I think he would benefit a lot from some concentrated work in being selective and taking pitches he can drive.
“He’s been applying himself toward that in Bowie and we’ve got some tools in place to help him get feedback on his swing decisions, and I know that he’s waiting for his opportunity up here.”
Kohl Stewart is the probable starter Tuesday night in Miami. Tommy Milone is the probable for Wednesday night’s home opener against the Marlins and John Means is expected to start Thursday after coming off the injured list.
“I don’t want to put the cart before the horse,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “I think if John’s ready to make that start, we’ll figure out a rotation after that.”
The Marlins are starting Sandy Alcántara and left-hander Caleb Smith in Baltimore.
Yesterday marked the first time since April 14, 2017 at Rogers Centre that Orioles pitchers struck out at least 11 batters and didn’t issue a walk in a game.
For the Red Sox
José Peraza 2B
J.D. Martinez DH
Rafael Devers 3B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Kevin Pillar RF
Christian Vázquez C
Alex Verdugo LF
Michael Chavis 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Ryan Weber RHP