SARASOTA, Fla. - Outfield is an area where the Orioles feature some young, up-and-coming talent, led by Yusniel Diaz, who is ranked as the team’s No. 1 prospect and is in the top 100 list of several national outlets. It’s a position to watch in camp to see Diaz, along with Austin Hays, Ryan McKenna, Cedric Mullins, Anthony Santander, Mike Yastrzemski and DJ Stewart, to name a few.
Most of these guys have played together at some point on the farm, some for several seasons together. Now in this spring camp, these friends compete for playing time and roster spots with each other. It can be a strange dynamic, but the young outfielders are rooting for each other and supporting each other, according to Stewart.
This group is sticking together and hoping they can be a part of the next great Orioles team at some point.
“It’s awesome,” Stewart said Tuesday morning in the clubhouse. “Getting to know the new guys like Diaz and I hadn’t played with McKenna. I have played with Yaz, Cedric, Hays and Santander.
“Just building relationships with those guys is awesome. We know that any of us can get the job. We all want it to be us, but if it’s anyone, we are all supportive in each other and have confidence in each other. It’s fun to be with a group where we are all about the same age. We compete and push each other.”
That is good to see, and so far, this has been camp cameraderie. Everyone seems loose and is pulling on the same end of the rope, as they say. First-year manager Brandon Hyde and his staff have created an easygoing atmosphere. One that could help young players - who can stress over getting big league time, even in the spring - let their talents truly show.
How did Hyde create such an atmosphere?
“Just being open and honest with us is the biggest thing, I think,” Stewart said. “They know they (the coaches) are here to help us get better. So they want to help us and if we’re getting better, we are winning more ballgames.”
The Orioles’ first round pick (No. 25 overall) out of Florida State in 2015, Stewart is 0-for-6 in spring games so far. But he ended last year in the big leagues and flashed some of his talent. He hit .250/.340/.550 with three doubles, three homers and 10 RBIs in 17 September games. He began his major league career at 0-for-13 for the Orioles and then went 10-for-27 (.370) his last 12 games.
“I looked back on it as I finished off my year very strong,” he said. “I showed what I can do at the major league level. Once it’s over, it’s done with though. You don’t really dwell on the bad things or celebrate too long on the good things. You just got to keep moving and perform the next day.
“What I learned is you have to prepare for each night. Whether it’s getting treatment, working out or doing the small things that allow you to stay on the field and contribute to help your team in any way you can. Yeah, it was a small sample size, but just to see the guys that have been there a while and just the way they go about their business, you can learn from everyone. You can pick up small things from everyone.”
Stewart said clubhouse veterans helped him last season and that continues this spring in Sarasota.
“Oh, yeah, definitely. That is one the big things they are preaching this year,” he said. “It’s more of a team, like we are all in this together and know what we are going through and up against. Everyone is willing to help each other, whether it’s a veteran guy helping a young guy or maybe one of the veteran guys facing us in a live (batting practice) or something. He’ll come over and ask us what we see to help him in his next outing. Getting feedback from everyone and helping everyone as much as we can.”
Game coverage today: Hope you can join me today at Orioles.com and on the MLB At Bat app at 1 p.m. for live play-by-play audio-only streaming of the Orioles and Boston from Fort Myers. The Orioles allowed 10 runs in the eighth Tuesday afternoon in an 11-6 loss to Tampa Bay. The game was halted by rain with the Orioles batting in the last of the eighth. In the fifth, Chris Davis hit a two-run homer to center. It was his first of the spring after an 0-for-4 start.