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Adam Jones on playing in Japan: 'Keeping all my options open'

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Adam Jones on playing in Japan: 'Keeping all my options open'

Adam Jones isn't the player he used to be for much of his career with the Orioles, but he could certainly still contribute to an MLB team next year, right?

The Winter Meetings began Sunday and Jones has yet to sign with a team, and according to Ken Rosenthal, he could be going to Japan to play with the Orix Buffaloes on a multi-year deal. 

During an interview with MLB Network on Tuesday, Jones talked about his free agency and how he's approaching the next step in his career. 

“I’m keeping all my options open," Jones said. "I have a unique opportunity to do something different. I have a unique opportunity to take control of my own career."

Jones got into contact with Japan last year through his agent, whom he shares with Angels and Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani. It would be a big move for his family, but Jones expressed excitement in the opportunity, hinting he's already preparing his wife with classic baseball cinema. 

"I made her watch 'Mr. Baseball,'" he said with a laugh. "She was rolling the entire time."

The fact remains that Jones is still worthy of a spot on a major-league team. Last season in Arizona, Jones played 137 games, posted a .260/.313/.414 slash line with 16 home runs and 67 RBI. 

Along with his veteran leadership in the clubhouse, Jones could provide a positive presence to any team, especially his hometown Padres led by former teammate Manny Machado. 

"I've just had an admiration for [Machado]," Jones said. "It would be great, a lot of my friends, family that would love it here."

Perhaps the Padres can get something done to not only reunite two former Oriole greats, but to make sure Jones doesn't play baseball in any other league besides the one we have here. 

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Three Orioles prospects ranked in Baseball America's Top 50 prospects

Three Orioles prospects ranked in Baseball America's Top 50 prospects

Three Baltimore Orioles prospects placed in the Top-50 of Baseball America's 2020 Top 100 Prospects list: Adley Rutschman, Grayson Rodriguez and D.L. Hall. 

The first overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, catcher Adley Rutschman placed the highest at the No. 5 ranking. All four players who ranked above Rutschman, including the Ray's Wanter Franco and the White sox's Luis Robert, are estimated at being called up sometime during the 2020 season, while Rutschman likely won't be ready until 2022.

Rutschman was hit with a bout of mononucleosis shortly after the draft, delaying his first professional appearance. Once recovered, Rutschman worked his way to low-Single-A to finish the season with the Delmarva Shorebirds. In 37 combined games Rutschman batted .254 with four home runs and a .423 slugging percentage.

Ranked No. 35 is right-hander Grayson Rodriguez,  who has command on his 93 mph fastball, but his secondary pitches have room to improve. After he was drafted in the first round of the 2018 MLB Draft, Rodriguez moved up to low-Single-A Delmarva at the start of the 2019 season. There, he tossed a 2.68 ERA and held batters to a .171 average in 20 starts (94 innings pitched). He also recorded 129 strikeouts.

Finally, the third Orioles prospect to make the top-50 is left-hander D.L. Hall, coming in at No. 47. Hall's control is lacking, but his fastball averages 95 mph and his curveball has developed over the past year. Drafted in the first round in 2017, Hall has thrown a combined 2.96 ERA in three seasons with the Baltimore organization, including last season with the high-Single-A Frederick Keys.

With the Keys, Hall posted a 3.46 ERA in 19 appearances (17 starts), striking out 116 and holding opponents to a .189 average. He also, however, averaged six walks-per-nine innings with Frederick, proof his control has room to grow. 

The Orioles announced Tuesday that Rutschman is formally invited to Spring Training. Catchers and pitchers report to Baltimore's major-league spring training on Feb. 11.

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Here's when Orioles fans can see top prospect Adley Rutschman in Spring Training

Here's when Orioles fans can see top prospect Adley Rutschman in Spring Training

Orioles fans haven't had much to cheer about the last three seasons, but Adley Rutschman could be the player to rejuvenate the franchise and get them back into the mix in the AL East. 

The Orioles took Rutschman with the first pick in the 2019 MLB Draft and the catching prospect was formally invited to Spring Training, according to Jon Morosi.

There isn't an expectation Rutschman plays in the majors in 2020 since Baltimore probably doesn't want to lose a year of service time on Rutschman in another rebuilding year. So unless O's fans have plans to go to any minor-league games, Spring Training is their best chance to see the prized prospect in person. 

*SS = Split-squad

Feb. 23: vs. Red Sox
Feb. 25: SS vs. Rays
Feb. 26: vs. Braves

Feb. 27: vs. Pirates
Feb. 29 vs. Marlins

Spring Training lineups game-to-game consist of major-league players and a few minor-league guys so the team can see how its depth shakes out. There are some days where teams have two games in one day and go split-squad. Those are the games where O's fans will most likely see Rutschman in action, though there's a chance he could travel for most of those since its common practice for veterans to play the home half of the split-squad games. 

The good news for O's fans, in this case, is that their team doesn't have many established veterans. So here's a layout of the Orioles' home schedule for Spring Training for anyone planning to go down to Sarasota to see Rutschman in action. 

Mar. 2: vs. Rays
Mar. 5: vs. Twins
Mar. 8: SS vs. Yankees
Mar. 10: SS vs. Braves
Mar. 13: vs. Blue Jays
Mar. 14: SS vs. Pirates
Mar. 16: vs. Phillies
Mar. 17: SS vs. Nationals
Mar. 20: SS vs. Red Sox
Mar. 21: SS vs. Twins
Mar. 22: vs. Phillies
Mar. 23: vs. Mets

If you hadn't noticed already, the Orioles have a lot of home games at the end of March right before the start of the regular season. If they decide to rest their major-league players in preparation for the home opener against the Yankees, there's a good chance we see Rutschman get some consistent time behind the plate. 

In what could be another long year ahead for the Orioles, it might be worth getting a glimpse at the future of the franchise when you can. 

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