The Orioles are set to begin workouts this week at Camden Yards, signaling the first on-field workouts in nearly four months for the organization.
They’ll have a three week summer camp before play resumes in the third week of July.
After general manager Mike Elias spoke on Monday, here are three things to know before the Orioles return to play.
1. 44-man roster
The Orioles original 60-man player pool was 16 players short of a full roster — though that will change in the future.
The organization only needed to submit a list by the Sunday deadline, but didn’t need to fill out the entire roster. Thus, the Orioles found it would be easier to add players throughout the process rather than add all 60 players at once and stick with that group.
“A young prospect, a young Minor Leaguer who we would add more for player development purposes cannot be removed from that list unless you release them and certainly we don’t want to get in a situation where we would even consider something like that,” Elias said. “Or if their presence might otherwise cause us to release or waive someone that we didn’t want to otherwise.”
Additionally, the Orioles wanted to give the players with a real chance at cracking the 30-man Opening Day roster the first chance to earn a roster spot.
From there, the organization can slowly add players to the roster as the season develops.
“But the guys that have no realistic shot to make the opening day team, obviously they’ve got the luxury of more time,” Elias said. “So there’s just no rush to get them up here. We want to get them up here. Everyone wants to get as many players from our organization as we can up here, but we’ve got to be smart about uncertain nature of what this is going to look like for the first week or two and then also the fact that the rules are kind of a one way street.”
Meaning, the prospects are coming.
2. The prospects will have a home — somewhere
The most important part of the Orioles’ organization at the moment is the prospect pool — no matter what happens at the major league level this year.
And with Elias’ quotes about adding to the roster in the future, it’s reasonable to assume that the prospects will be on the way after a few weeks.
“I do expect that we will have players appear from the low Minors that realistically otherwise wouldn’t have had a chance to come participate at the high Minor League or Major League level this year, (and) will be there primarily for player development purposes,” Elias said. “Logic would dictate it will be some of our top prospects, but we’ve also got a lot of prospects that perhaps aren’t publicly ranked as highly but they are closer to the Major Leagues and we need to get them ready for eventual or possible Major League debuts this year.”
But if some prospects aren’t added to the team’s major league camp, they’ll have a home somewhere.
The Orioles are planning to open up a satellite camp at one of their affiliates, at a time and location still to be determined.
“It will open at some point during the quote-unquote spring training period of time,” Elias said. “We’re very fortunate that we have multiple local professional affiliate options right in the neighborhood here, so we’re going to be in good shape wherever it is. We will be utilizing that.
While Adley Rutschamn, DL Hall, Grayson Rodriguez and a few other notable prospects were left off the original 60-man roster, there’s a handful of prospects deepers in the system that will still need to get reps. That’s where the secondary site will come into play.
“We don’t have Norfolk as our Triple-A this year because of the setup, but we’ll still have the ability to option people down,” Elias said. “They will go to our secondary site and it’s not just going to be practice. We’re going to have simulated games so pitchers can throw innings and hitters can get live at-bats. I’m sure we’ll figure out a way to simulate (the) game environment as best as possible.”
3. Evaluation in a shortened sample size
No matter how the Orioles and their prospects perform — whether it’s far above or below expectations — there will be the question of sample size.
In just 60 games, a hot or cold start can doom a player’s statistics for the season in a similar manner that spring training does.
“It’s going to be a very small sample for these players,” Elias said. “I think in terms of evaluating our talent based on what happens this year, we’re going to be probably more reliant on objective criteria that are not the statistical samples that could be misleading in this short of a time. We’re going to be looking at guys’ stuff, what type of shape they’re in, how they’re playing defense, how hard they’re hitting the ball, all that. But it is very possible that somebody has a pretty misleading stat line over 60 games that they wouldn’t have had over 162.”
So not only do problems exist in terms of simply playing baseball games again, how to evaluate those games will be more difficult than ever before.
“It’s just one of the many challenges of this season,” Elias continued. “There are so many, it’s hard to think of them all and that’s just one of them. I imagine we’re going to have to make some personnel decisions like we do at the end of every year and we’re only working with a third of the info that we’re accustomed to.”
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