After strong second half, will Lough earn bigger role in 2015?

When he hears that the Orioles are looking for a left-handed-hitting outfielder, I wonder if David Lough ever says to himself, “Hey, I’m a left-handed-hitting outfielder. Give me a chance.”

I’m sure he does, and who knows? He may well get a bigger shot than we think come April.

Right now, barring any additions, Steve Pearce is penciled in as the starter in right field and Alejandro De Aza is in left.

But will the lack of an addition by the Orioles lead to a greater chance for Lough? He is a player with a track record of minor league success who carried some of that over when playing with Kansas City in 2013.

Lough is a career .297 minor league hitter in 677 games and 2,593 at-bats. In 2013, he batted .286 in 315 at-bats with the Royals, finished eighth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting and was first in Wins Above Replacement among all AL rookies.

lough-walk-off-celebration-close-sidebar.jpgLough hit .338 at Triple-A that season, giving him a .303 average between the majors and minors in 2013. You read that right, Lough had a .303 batting average that year.

But fans here saw him get off to a very slow start last year and he was batting just .197 at the All-Star break. Lough dealt with concussion-like symptoms early in the season and that may have contributed to his start.

It was a very small sample size after the break - just 57 at-bats - but Lough hit .351 with an OPS of 1.066 following the All-Star Game.

While he brings speed and very solid defense to the team, he also has been a leadoff hitter. It was just 70 at-bats for the Royals in 2013, but he hit .270/.297/.329. That year at Triple-A Omaha, in 128 at-bats leading off, he batted .344/.404/.484.

I digress for a second here to mention another left-handed hitting outfielder on the 40-man roster that gets overlooked: Henry Urrutia.

He hit .347 at Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk in 2013 when he was the Orioles minor league Player of the Year. He also hit .276 in the big leagues that summer before an injury somewhat derailed his 2014 season.

But during the recent minicamp, my colleague Roch Kubatko wrote, “Henry Urrutia has been working out in Sarasota for a significant portion of the offseason and it shows in his increased muscle mass.”

“I don’t think there’s anybody that wants it more than him,” manager Buck Showalter said.

Meanwhile, some O’s fans probably think they need to see Lough deliver solid offense before they believe it - they just haven’t seen much of it first-hand. But no one can deny his long track record in the minors or .286 average with Kansas City. That came in 315 at-bats and it’s all there on the stat sheet.

And while we look at Dariel Alvarez and see a young player that needs more minor league seasoning, Lough has about as much seasoning as he’ll ever need. Between 2010-13, he played 401 games at the Triple-A level.

Seasoning he has. Opportunity he seeks.

Could it develop for him with the 2015 Orioles?

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