Happy Thanksgiving to our readers here. I appreciate you today and every day. And Happy Thanksgiving to everyone throughout Birdland.
Just a short entry today, and if you have time to push yourself away from the table and talk some baseball, here is an article worth checking out. It’s from the team’s Birdland Insider Twitter account and is a nice wrap-up of the Orioles instructional league.
This year, the Orioles did not play games against other teams, instead focusing on more individually targeted instruction. Several members of the O’s staff are quoted in the story, and they pointed out a few times that one focus of the camp this time was to give the players specific goals and target areas for the rest of their winter. Many times in sports, players make big gains in the offseason. Sometimes what happens when no one is watching is very important.
That camp featured 17 members of the O’s 2021 draft class and 19 players ranked on the club’s top 30 prospects list, per MLBPipeline.com.
Said O’s director of player development Matt Blood: “We’ve spent significant time reimagining instructional league. We want it to be a fertile environment for growth. So we are focusing on skill acquisition and the elements that go into learning. It seems to be a fun environment that has been enjoyable for players and staff.
“What we noticed, as a whole, is the talent in the organization has been tremendously improved over the past couple years. We have a physical, skilled and highly competitive group of players who are excited about bringing a championship to Baltimore.”
Anthony Villa was the O’s Rookie-level Florida Complex League hitting coordinator this year and he discussed working during the season in this camp with catcher Samuel Basallo and shortstop Maikol Hernandez. They headlined the O’s 2020-21 international signing class as the organization’s first seven-figure international amateur signees.
Said Villa: “Samuel and Maikol are incredible workers and very advanced, especially considering that they are only 17 years old! There is a lot of exciting international talent coming up through this organization, and these two guys are worthy headliners. They both showcase the ability to hit the ball hard and did a nice job of driving the ball in the air. They also are continuing to refine their swing decisions. The two of them push each other in training and challenge themselves as if they were 25-year-old players instead of first-year youngsters.”