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On the passing of a great reporter and an even better person

Those of us who work in baseball in this area and region today are feeling such a loss. Our friend here at MASN and MASNsports.com, our treasured colleague, Mel Antonen, passed away last night. Mel was 64 and battled a rare autoimmune disease and other health issues that made his battle against this disease one that was beyond challenging. That word just doesn’t do it

A few questions for O’s fans

Just a short entry today that features a few questions. As always, feel free to answer one, two or all of them. Respond with comments on the answers of your fellow readers too. Feel free to pose any of your own questions with topics you may be wondering about as we are now weeks away from the scheduled start of spring training. We certainly have

The comparisons will be coming for these shortstops

Even though anything he does good or bad for the Los Angeles Angels in 2021 won’t help or hurt the Orioles, no doubt O’s fans will still be quite interested in the performance of former shortstop José Iglesias. After the O’s traded Iglesias to the Angels, they signed Freddy Galvis to replace him. So the comparison of the two and how well or not they

Dreaming big on pitching prospects

If you could bat .500 in baseball, you would probably win a few awards and set several records. And if the Orioles can bat .500 with their top two pitching prospects, that might be impressive as well. They dream on going 2-for-2 and producing a pair of No. 1 starters out of right-hander Grayson Rodriguez and left-hander DL Hall. But what if they turn one

Norfolk beat writer remembers Ron Johnson, plus other notes

The news of the death of former Triple-A Norfolk manager Ron Johnson this week hit hard throughout the Orioles organization and beyond. He managed the Tides for seven years through 2018 and sent many a player to help the O’s during a period when they made the playoffs three times from 2012 through 2016. Johnson served the Orioles very well. Players were made better having

Checking in with new O’s shortstop Freddy Galvis

New Orioles shortstop Freddy Galvis hopes to play some quality defense for his new team and provide some pop in a ballpark where he enjoys hitting. He also brings a career marked by durability and wants to show that to his new club as well. From 2015 through 2019, he played in 151, 158, 162, 162 and 147 games. He had a consecutive games played

Another look at new O’s infielder Freddy Galvis

When the Orioles signed José Iglesias as their shortstop on Jan. 7, 2020, he had last played for the Cincinnati Reds. When they signed infielder Freddy Galvis to a one-year deal last night, he also joins the team from the Reds. Galvis was a free agent and signed for one year at $1.5 million per various reports with a bonus of $250,000 if he gets

After MLB debut, Keegan Akin will try and stay there

The Orioles drafted him in the second round of the 2016 draft, No. 54 overall out of Western Michigan University. Later that summer, he made his pro debut at short-season Single-A Aberdeen. He moved his way up the ranks, pitching at Double-A Bowie in 2018 and Triple-A Norfolk by 2019. After lefty Keegan Akin made his O’s debut and had an impressive start to his

O’s Sig Mejdal on how spin rates impact roster, potential additions

So after spending some time researching and learning about spin rates and active spin or spin efficiency for Orioles pitchers, it was probably time to turn to a real expert for more. I went to the top and got an interview with Sig Mejdal, the Orioles’ vice president and assistant general manager, analytics. “Sig Mejdal is one of the most experienced and accomplished analysts working

A look back: The possible next top 100 player and more

In a recent story published by Baseball America, the publication noted 13 players (subscription may be required) that could have breakout seasons on the farm in 2021. Before even reading the text, readers could see the picture at the top of that story. It is of Orioles shortstop prospect Gunnar Henderson. For this story in December, I noted that Henderson could be the club’s next

Upon Hank Aaron’s passing, the tributes poured in

He was an All-Star player and person, and when Hank Aaron died Friday, the tributes poured in. And poured in and poured in. They talked with great reverence about him yesterday, but also many days before that as well. “As far as I am concerned, Hank Aaron is the best ballplayer of my era,” Mickey Mantle once said. “The only man I idolized more than

Getting back on the spin rate train

It’s been about a week since I first wrote in this space about four-seam fastball spin rates. So today, I am jumping back on the spin rate train and presenting more data that is available to all from the baseballsavant.mlb.com website. Once again trying not to hurt myself, pull a hammie or break a hamate and/or injure myself in any way as I jump on

The AL East gets even tougher, plus more prospect news

The Orioles’ effort to rebuild a team that lost a combined 223 games over the 2018 and 2019 seasons was always going to be difficult and challenging. The Cubs and Astros rebuilt teams and took them all the way to World Series championships. But they didn’t do it in the American League East. It’s a division where everywhere the Orioles look they find challenges. There

When he gets here, Rutschman’s biggest foe may be expectations

When catcher Adley Rutschman got rated as baseball’s No. 2 prospect this week by Baseball America, he achieved a ranking that only three other Orioles reached since the publication’s first top 100 poll in 1990. Manny Machado never got to No. 2. He never even made the top 10 with rankings of No. 14 in 2011 and No. 11 in 2012. Rutschman joined Matt Wieters,

Rutschman, four other O’s reach Baseball America top 100

A new Baseball America top 100 prospects list (subscription may be required) was released yesterday and it was a good day for the Orioles. Baseball America has published 32 lists since its first in 1990. And just twice - first in 2008 and now in 2021 - has the club put five players in the top 100. They have never had more than five. I

Taking a closer look at the MLB Draft League

When the Frederick Keys field a team this summer, for the first time they will not be sending Orioles prospects to the field. As part of the restructuring of minor league baseball, the Keys have joined the inaugural MLB Draft League. Six teams will begin play in a 68-game season beginning in late May and running through mid-August. It is a wood-bat league made up

Notes on Villar, spin rates and more

Today we’re reviewing a few stories from recent days for further discussion as we move closer to the start of February and we wonder if that will indeed be the month that spring training starts. Reunion anyone?: In this entry a few days ago, we wondered if Jonathan Villar could reunite with the Orioles and this time become the regular at shortstop? The club needs

Another look at a “landmark day” for the O’s organization

If anyone still doubted that the Orioles were serious about their international amateur signings, those doubts surely vanished yesterday. From the first day he was on the job as executive vice president and general manager, Mike Elias made producing and developing a strong international program a priority. Now Elias, along with senior director of international scouting Koby Perez and his staff have put together their

Basallo, Hernández lead O’s international class (updated)

The Orioles today announced a signing class of 17 international amateurs, including the club’s first two players signed for seven figures. Per industry sources, the club has contract agreements with catcher Samuel Basallo from the Dominican Republic for $1.3 million and with Venezuelan shortstop Maikol Hernández for $1.2 million. The Orioles announced that 11 more from this group are six-figure agreements. Of the 17 agreements,

Notes on Epstein to MLB, international signings and more

Now that he has helped the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs win a combined three World Series, Theo Epstein will try to help baseball improve its game. Maybe get more action in the game and work on rules that fans will embrace. Major League Baseball yesterday named Epstein a consultant regarding on-field matters. Under the supervision of the commissioner and the competition committee, Epstein

Noting a few more O’s pitchers via spin rate data, plus other notes

OK, don’t panic but I’m going to throw out a few more notes today on four-seam fastball spin rate. Basically just add a few pitchers to the Orioles I listed among the data presented in this entry yesterday. If you recall, the spin rate data yesterday was produced for every big league pitcher last year that threw 250 or more pitches. Not just four-seamers, but

Taking a look at fastball spin rate data

The data is available on the baseballsavant.mlb.com website and anyone can find it. Trying to understand exactly what it all means is a whole different story. I am talking about spin rates for major league pitchers. No doubt, big league teams like the Orioles have reams and reams of data not available to the public and interpret it in ways you and I could only

A Jonathan Villar reunion, anyone?

There were some frustrated Orioles fans when the club traded infielder Jonathan Villar on Dec. 2, 2019. The club was not prepared to pay him a projected $10.4 million through arbitration, even coming off his strong 2019 season. So he was dealt to the Miami Marlins for minor league lefty Easton Lucas. The trade doesn’t look so bad today, even though Lucas has yet to

This Means had a remarkable end to his 2020 season

No doubt left-hander John Means is the Orioles’ top starting pitcher and likely opening day starter for 2021. But is he an ace pitcher? Not quite yet, but he sure showed signs of it in his last four 2020 starts. If Means can become the Orioles’ first bonafide ace since Mike Mussina, he will truly beat the odds. Unlike Mussina, he was not a first-round

Notes on Mansolino, shifts and potential shortstops

Today we’re taking a look back at some recent articles you read here on MASNsports.com to check on some important topics and get more of your thoughts on them. The new coach: The Orioles made their eight-man coaching staff official this week. Their latest hire is Tony Masolino, 38, who comes to the club from the Cleveland Indians. I had wondered if the O’s would

International amateurs can get there sooner and with great impact

When I wrote this entry earlier this week, I detailed the Orioles’ efforts to reach agreements with 20 international amateurs for their upcoming signing class. It will be the second international class since Mike Elias took over as the club’s executive vice president and general manager. Elias and the team’s senior director of international scouting, Koby Perez, both have extensive international experience and contacts and

Ninth means the last three outs, but not necessarily the biggest outs

Who will be the closer for the 2021 Orioles? Who knows today? But is it really that important for a rebuilding team? Probably not. The Orioles had five pitchers record saves last year. Cole Sulser was 5-for-8 in save chances, while César Valdez was 3-for-3. Miguel Castro was 1-for-3, Tanner Scott 1-for-2, Travis Lakins Sr. 1-for-1 and Thomas Eshelman 0-for-1. Sulser was the only player

New O’s coach brings youth and more to his job

New Orioles third base coach Tony Mansolino had zero ties to the Orioles organization. That is, until they sought to interview him. He got the gig and now he will look to add to the club and help players as he becomes the youngest member of the coaching staff. Mansolino, 38, spent the last 10 years with the Cleveland Indians organization. The next youngest member

O’s international efforts will soon take another big step

The Orioles continue to make some huge strides in their pursuit of international amateur talent. A class of what would eventually be 44 players was added in the signing period that began July 2, 2019 and ended in October. The Orioles will sign fewer players in the coming class, but were involved with many more players commanding bigger signing bonuses. This is the latest sign

Will some MLB rule changes be used again in 2021?

Today is sort of a follow-up on yesterday’s entry, where we discussed whether defensive shifts should be eliminated or at least reduced. Today I pledge my personal support for two rules I would like to see continue in 2021. And maybe just in 2021. The current collective bargaining agreement runs through the coming season. Why not take another look at some of these rules and

Is it time to take a harder look at defensive shifts?

Are defensive shifts hurting the game of baseball? I would expect many fans to answer yes. Many players may well answer yes, too. The defensive shifts are taking away hits, and some feel they are taking away action in the game. The game needs more balls in play, not fewer. I have never been against shifts for one basic reason - I don’t think we

What will keep the fans invested in 2021?

It was about this time last year when I wrote something similar to this, asking what will keep fans engaged in 2020? Now it’s time to ponder the same question about 2021. An obvious answer is the ability to get back to attending games. That goes without saying. We all want that back. But the interest level in this rebuilding team remains high, even though

Would O’s trade a Cy Young winner with three years left on deal?

In the American League East, the Tampa Bay Rays garner a lot of respect. Among fans, media, just about anyone that marvels how they keep up with the big boys on such a low payroll. There are ways O’s fans would love to see the Orioles emulate the Rays - mostly in how they win. But probably not in actually how they get there, a

New year dawns with some familiar questions

Today we begin a new year, but we are still a ways away from beginning a new baseball season. The calendar flips today, but some of the old questions didn’t go away at midnight. We still wait to find out if spring training will start on time and whether each team will play 162 games in 2021. My hope for the new year in baseball

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