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Orioles minor league signees can be 2016 contributors


Orioles minor league signees can be 2016 contributors

When you look over the initial list of Orioles minor league signings released late Tuesday afternoon, there’s some real insight into how the club operates.

The kneejerk fan reaction is always to belittle the signings. They’re not to take the place of major free agent deals, but to augment them, and players who are signed and invited to major league camp are important, not only to the Orioles, but to Norfolk and Bowie, too.

Last year, four players from outside the organization were signed to minor league contracts with spring training invitations played for the Orioles: Paul Janish, Chris Parmelee, old friend Nolan Reimold and Chaz Roe.

Another, Ryan Lavarnway, who was picked up on waivers, but later outrighted and signed to a minor league deal before spring training, made the team.

Steve Johnson, who had been with the organization, was re-signed to a minor league contract and was a late season addition.

Cesar Cabral was another minor league signing, but he never made it to major league camp, but did pitch briefly for the Orioles in June.

Cabral was one of the eight whose signing was announced on Tuesday. The left-hander pitched in 12 games for the Yankees in 2013 and 2014.

Ozzie Martinez, who conceivably could play short at Norfolk with Steve Tolleson at second, is back with the team. Martinez was credited in helping Bowie’s young pitchers develop. He has 34 games of major league experience with the Marlins in 2010 and 2011.

Audry Perez is also back. Perez caught for the Tides in 2015 and had cameos with St. Louis in 2013 and 2014.

RELATED: Orioles sign eight to minor league contracts

Tolleson, who delivered some key hits in 2012 came home, too. He’ll have stiff competition to make the club as a utility infielder with Janish and Ryan Flaherty around, but he’s a steadying presence in the clubhouse.

Pedro Beato gets another shot, too. Beato was the 32nd overall pick in the 2006 draft by the Orioles, but was lost in the Rule 5 draft in 2010. After stops with the Mets, Red Sox and Braves, Beato returned to the organization last spring training and had a creditable season with Norfolk.

Todd Redmond has returned. Redmond was claimed on waivers in Feb. 2013, and lost to the Blue Jays on waivers several weeks later. Redmond pitched in 66 games for Toronto in the last three seasons.

The only player who on the list who doesn’t have Orioles ties is Ji-Man Choi. Choi is a first baseman from Inchon, South Korea, who spent five seasons in the Seattle Mariners’ organization.

Choi has a .302 minor league average, but lost much of the last two seasons to injuries and a PED suspension.

The most interesting name on the list is Ashur Tolliver. His name is known only to fans of Orioles’ Maryland affiliates.

Tolliver was the Orioles’ fifth round draft choice in 2009, and has toiled away in obscurity since. The 2009 class failed to produce a major leaguer until Mychal Givens made his major league debut last June.

But, Tolliver like Givens, is illustrative in the way the Orioles develop players.

Givens was the Orioles second round selection in 2009 as a middle infielder, but after three frustrating seasons, the team decided to try him as a relief pitcher, and the results were astonishing.

After a terrific last two months with the team, it’s possible that Givens could be the setup man this year assuming Darren O’Day departs.

Tolliver has pitched for Aberdeen, Delmarva, Frederick and Bowie since 2009, and last year got an invitation to the Arizona Fall League.

Like Givens, and some of the other young pitchers at Bowie, Christopher Lee and Andrew Triggs, Tolliver is skilled at avoiding the home run ball. He’s allowed just 15 in 239 2/3 innings over six minor league seasons.

Unlike some other teams, the Orioles have shown patience with young, unheralded pitchers, and it paid off last year with Givens and Oliver Drake belatedly making their major league debuts.

Drake, who’ll turn 29 in January, has been in the organization even longer than Givens and Tolliver. He was selected out of Navy in 2008.

The Orioles also added Parker Bridwell to their roster last week. Bridwell, like Tolliver, has never pitched above Double-A, and he’s been in the organization since 2010.

It took Bridwell until his fifth season to advance past the Shorebirds, but he’s been higher on prospect rankings than Tolliver.

Because the Orioles can’t spend with the biggest market teams, they’re forced to be more inventive, and they’re hoping with Tolliver and Bridwell, their patience will be rewarded in 2016 and beyond.

MORE ORIOLES: Orioles likely to have busy Rule 5 draft

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Orioles agree to one-year deal with pitcher Chris Tillman, according to reports

USA Today Sports

Orioles agree to one-year deal with pitcher Chris Tillman, according to reports

SARASOTA, Fla. -- A person familiar with the negotiations says pitcher Chris Tillman and the Baltimore Orioles have agreed to a $3 million, one-year contract.

The deal includes performance bonuses, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because the deal had not yet been announced.

Tillman was 1-7 with a 7.84 ERA in 19 starts and five relief appearances last year. He would be the second starter added by the Orioles in the past week after right-hander Andrew Cashner.

Tillman likely would join right-handers Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and Cashner in the rotation.

The 29-year-old right-hander lives in Sarasota and had been working out at the Orioles' facility before spring training. Manager Buck Showalter watched Tillman throw and was impressed.

Tillman began last season on the disabled list with right shoulder stiffness.

"Better than he did last year at this time. I think he's got the chance to pitch well for somebody this year," Showalter said. "A lot of the challenges he had last year -- this time last year -- aren't there. Somebody's going to reap the benefits."

Tillman's is 73-55 with a 4.43 ERA in nine major league seasons, all with the Orioles. He won 16 games in both 2013 and 2016.

"He's a guy when he's healthy you can bank on him giving you 200 innings and keeping his ERA between a 3 and a 4," Gausman said. "That in the AL East is always going to be very valuable."


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Orioles Spring Training Schedule 2018

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Orioles Spring Training Schedule 2018

Live baseball is close to gracing our television screens again. The Orioles haven't had the most active offseason, to put it mildly. Fans are still wondering who will make up more than half the spots in this year's rotation, and Manny Machado's upcoming free agency is looming over every decision the organization makes.

Still, it's exciting to be able to follow the team again. Not every game is televised, so get ready to constantly refresh your favorite beat writer's Twitter account for all your updates.

Even without getting to watch the games, it'll be comforting to once again check box scores in the morning to see if Jonathan Schoop is building on his breakout season, or if top-prospect Austin Hays is all he's cracked up to be (spoiler: he is).

This year's spring training will be especially interesting, considering how many big-name players will be signing in the next few weeks. The O's haven't yet made a big splash this offseason, but with the sheer volume of capable players still on the market, you have to wonder if they'll try to sign some impact players at bargain values.

Typically, the excitement of adding a new piece to the lineup or rotation has to be reignited after a long winter off, but this season, those additions will be taking place while camp is already underway.

It's going to be a hectic few weeks as teams prepare for thier seasons, so bookmark this page to check on on the Orioles spring training schedule over the next few weeks as the team finally takes the field in 2018.

Orioles 2018 Spring Training Schedule

Friday, Feb. 23 (SS) - Rays at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Saturday, Feb. 24 (SS) - Orioles at Phillies, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Feb. 24 (SS) - Twins at Orioles, 6:05 pm
Sunday, Feb. 25 - Orioles at Red Sox, 1:05 pm 
Monday, Feb. 26 - Tigers at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Feb. 27 - Orioles at Rays, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Feb. 28 - Cardinals at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 1 - Orioles at Rays, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 2 - Pirates at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 3 (SS) - Orioles at Phillies, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 - Red Sox at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Tuesday, Mar. 6 - Orioles at Twins, 1:05 pm 
Wednesday, Mar. 7 - Orioles at Rays, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 8 - Blue Jays at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 9 - Orioles at Blue Jays, 1:07 pm
Saturday, Mar. 10 (SS) - Pirates at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 11 (SS) - Orioles at Red Sox, 1:05 pm 
Sunday, Mar. 11 (SS) - Phillies at Orioles, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Mar. 12 - Orioles at Pirates, 1:05 pm 
Tuesday, Mar. 13 - Orioles at Twins, 1:05 pm 
Wednesday, Mar. 14 - Yankees at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 15 - Orioles at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 16 - Orioles at Mets, 1:10 pm 
Saturday, Mar. 17 (SS) - Blue Jays at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 18 - Mets at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Monday, Mar. 19 - Orioles at Tigers, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 20 - Rays at Orioles, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Wednesday, Mar. 21 - Orioles at Yankees, 6:35 pm 
Thursday, Mar. 22 - Red Sox at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Friday, Mar. 23 (SS) - Rays at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 24 - Twins at Orioles, 6:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 25 - Orioles at Phillies, 1:05 pm 
Monday, Mar. 27 (in Norfolk, VA) - Orioles at Tides (AAA), 3:05 pm