A group of 38 Orioles minor league players began workouts at Twin Lakes park in Sarasota, Fla., on Wednesday. This early minor league camp allows these players to get in some extra work before the full minor league camp begins March 6. It also gets these players ready in case they are needed in early Orioles spring training games.
But O’s director of player development Brian Graham said it also provides the 20 pitchers at the camp a chance to build up more innings that might allow them to pitch deeper in games once the minor league regular season starts.
“We have brought in more pitchers to the early camp, primarily starters, so that we can stretch them out and get them out to hopefully five, six or some of them close to seven innings in terms of number of pitches to start the season,” Graham said.
“The camp is intended to have players available to help Buck (Showalter) with split-squad (games) and extra players for road trips. But we also use this opportunity to bring in most of our starters at each level. Not all of them, but most of the starters at each level are coming in to get stretched out.”
At the end of this entry I’ll list once again the 38 players that are at the early minor league camp.
Mills’ coaching skills: Orioles fans now know Alan Mills as more than just a very good former reliever and a guy that once punched Darryl Strawberry during an O’s-Yankees brawl.
He has become a very solid O’s minor league coach. Mills rejoined the Orioles in 2012 and spent two seasons as pitching coach at short-season Single-A Aberdeen. Last year he coached at Single-A Delmarva.
This year he moves to Double-A Bowie where will lead a staff that could include Dylan Bundy, Branden Kline, Parker Bridwell and Mychal Givens to name four pitching prospects.
“Obviously, he has great knowledge,” Graham said. “He has great knowledge and experience. He has a unique ability to teach the mental side of pitching. He develops a relationship with the pitchers and can communicate with them in a special way.
“Teaching mechanics is one thing. But teaching the whole approach to pitching, the ability to make adjustments, the whole mental side of pitching is something not every coach can teach. I think he will be at the right level with some really good pitchers this year.”
Mills spent nine seasons as an Oriole. He posted a 2.70 ERA in seven postseason games in 1996 and 1997.
Welcome to the team: We’ve spent some time recently discussing the Orioles’ strong team chemistry. One example of that is how the O’s veterans welcome rookies to the team.
Right-hander Mike Wright, the Orioles’ No. 8 prospect according to Baseball America, said he already experienced that even though he has yet to make his big league debut.
“My first big league (spring) camp was two years ago,” Wright said. “From the time I stepped into the locker room, I felt like I was a part of the team. For me to be a rookie and never having been up there, the guys came up and said, ‘Hey it’s great to see you.’ It’s really a good feeling because I already feel part of the team.”
The club’s third-round pick out of East Carolina in 2011, Wright was added to the Orioles’ 40-man roster in November after his strong finish last year at Triple-A Norfolk, a finish where he posted an 0.95 ERA over his last seven starts. In his last four starts, he gave up one earned run in 29 2/3 innings for an ERA of 0.30.
Wright said his velocity ticked up a bit in those starts and his slider became sharper and became more of an out pitch.
He ended 2014 pitching with confidence and he begins 2015 the same way.
“That honestly made a big difference for my offseason. It was way more exciting finishing strong like that than where I was in the middle of the season. I feel a lot more confident going into this season because of the way I finished,” Wright said.
The Orioles’ early minor league camp roster:
Beal, Jesse - RHP
Bleeker, Derrick - RHP
Bridwell, Parker - RHP
Bundy, Robert - RHP
Chleborad, Tanner - RHP
Davies, Zachary - RHP
Escat, Gene - RHP
Gailey, Frank - LHP
Givens, Mychal - RHP
Gonzalez, Brian - LHP
Gonzalez, Luis - LHP
Hess, David - RHP
Horacek, Mitch - LHP
Keller, Jon - RHP
Kline, Branden - RHP
McCoy, Patrick - LHP
Pacheco, Ronan - LHP
Prado, Marcel - RHP
Rodriguez, Daniel - LHP
Seabrooke, Travis - LHP
Heim, Jonah - C
Murphy, Alex - C
Perez, Rossmel - C
Russell, William - C
Sisco, Chance - C
Dosch, Drew - INF
Gibson, Derrik - INF
Halton, Sean - INF
Mancini, Trey - INF
Marin, Adrian - INF
Martinez, Osvaldo - INF
Reyes, Jomar - INF
Rosa, Garabez - INF
Borbon, Julio - OF
Davis, Glynn - OF
Hart, Josh - OF
Leyva, Elier - OF
Yastrzemski, Mike - OF
O’s last in AL East: Don’t panic, I am not referring to any actual standings. On MLB Network’s list of the Top 100 players in the majors right now they listed 14 that currently play in the division, but just one Oriole. Adam Jones is No. 22. Toronto had the most players listed with five.
Toronto: Jose Bautista (12), Josh Donaldson (18), Edwin Encarnacion (49), Jose Reyes (86), Russell Martin (90).
Boston: Hanley Ramirez (27), David Ortiz (36), Dustin Pedroia (52), Pablo Sandoval (95).
New York: Jacoby Ellsbury (54), Masahiro Tanaka (59).
Tampa Bay: Evan Longoria (51), Alex Cobb (77).
Orioles: Adam Jones (22).
Before you get too worked up, O’s fans, the two Orioles that had the best offensive seasons are on this list as Nelson Cruz is No. 66. If the list is based on last year’s numbers, and I assume that had a lot to do with it, maybe Zach Britton could have made the list. But Manny Machado and Matt Wieters getting hurt hindered their chances. Jake Arrieta is No. 89, by the way.
But despite what this list says, having five players named won’t help Toronto win any games this year and having just one won’t keep the Orioles from winning any games either. Just a fun list to debate and probably get some ratings for the network.