How to get the outfielders on the field, and other notes

It will not be a problem for the Orioles - well, maybe a good one - if both Austin Hays and Cedric Mullins play well throughout the spring. There are easy ways, with the DH spot, to get both of them in the same lineup.

The Orioles could, for instance, start Hays in left and Mullins in center with Anthony Santander in right and Trey Mancini and Ryan Mountcastle at first and DH. You would have to think that many days the leadoff hitter could be followed by Mancini, Mountcastle or Santander. But you could also put two speed guys up top, with Hays and then Mullins, or the other way around.

Austin-Hays-Diving-Catch-Black-Sidebar.jpgHeading into Saturday night’s game, Hays was 4-for-8 with a homer, two RBIs and a 1.431 OPS in three games. And Mullins was 4-for-9 with a double, triple, two RBIs and a 1.222 OPS in three games. Small sample size alert! Drink!

So yeah, long way to go. But if the Orioles reach a point when they want their two “center fielders” in the same lineup, it can and will happen.

“I think I’m going to move all those guys around,” manager Brandon Hyde said before last night’s game. “I think that there are a lot of at-bats to be had and innings to be played defensively. I can see a combination of Cedric and Austin in the outfield together. I can see Ryan DHing some days. Yeah, I think I’ll be moving guys around quite a bit. Santander could use a DH day also. So, that’s nice to have the amount of outfielders we have and guys we want to get in the lineup. We’re able to use the DH for one of those guys on a nightly basis.”

Adley speaks: It is an anticipated day and it could come this year. Or it might not. The day that the 2019 No. 1 overall draft pick, O’s catcher Adley Rutschman, debuts in the majors.

He is the No. 2 prospect in baseball, but might be the No. 1 reason for Orioles fans to have hope for the future. They have a few reasons, but seeing the club’s second in history 1/1 pick ranks way up there.

During a Zoom interview with O’s reporters Saturday, Rutschman said he gives a similar answer any time he is asked when he thinks he will make his big league debut.

“I’m going to control what I can control, and I’d like to think I can compete at any level that you put me at just because of who I am,” he said. “I’d like to think I’m a competitive person and can do those things. But I don’t really know what my timeline looks like. I’m just here to play baseball and get better every day.”

Ranked as the No. 2 prospect by Baseball America, MLBPipeline.com and ESPN, Rutschman said he sees the talented youth in the O’s farm system moving in a very good direction.

“As far as the personalities we have on the team, I’ve been very fortunate to be part of this organization so far, and to be with some of the high-quality character people that we have right now running the organization, both players and coaches and people who are part of the development process for all the guys coming up and the guys in the big leagues right now,” he said. “So, I think there’s a good, constant wave trending upward right now as far as from the bottom to the top. And I think just the guys that we have right now feel fortunate to be playing again.”

Calling pitches and being solid at that will absolutely be very important for Rutschman moving forward. He feels he has improved in that area.

“I think the biggest thing, as far as that goes, is knowing the pitcher, pitching to their strengths, and then there is a lot of new analytics coming out about each individual pitcher and then the weaknesses of the guys that we’re facing,” he said. “So, it’s a combination of knowing the opponent and knowing your pitcher and just getting comfortable with that process. And yeah, it is very important.”

Rutschman is expected to begin the 2021 season with Double-A Bowie in May. Where he ends it, stay tuned.

For more on Rutschman, click here.

Now about that velocity: He gave up one hit and two runs in two innings last night, but O’s right-hander Félix Hernández was throwing his fastball mostly in the range of the mid-80s. When he last pitched in the regular season for Seattle in 2019, he was at 89.6 mph with his fastball, per FanGraphs.com. Click here for Hernandez’s take on his outing last night.

In the postgame interview, Hyde was asked if Hernández has been in that range in camp and if he can win with that.

“I think so, because he knows how to pitch,” Hyde said. “He knows how to add and subtract. He knows how to pitch in and out, pitch behind in the count with off-speed. So yeah, I think it’s been the range he’s been at so far. I think you are going to see that tick up as he gets more outings and, you know, just gets stronger with every appearance. But the guy’s done it for a long time and knows how to pitch.”

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