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Dillon Atkinson

Dillon Atkinson is a staff writer for Eutaw St. Report. His work has formerly appeared on MASNsports, Orioles Uncensored, and Baseball Essential. He is a 2019 graduate of Towson University.

Dylan Bundy’s Adjustments Proving Effective

Last year, Orioles right-hander Dylan Bundy produced the worst season of his major league career, as he recorded a 5.45 ERA and 5.17 FIP over 171 2/3 innings while giving up a big-league leading 41 home runs. White Sox starter James Shields was next on the list with 34 long balls surrendered. There’s no way he could be worse in 2019, right? He’s a clear bounce-back candidate. Well, things didn’t look that way to start this season. In Bundy’s first six starts of this year’s campaign, he pitched to a […]

Revisiting the Manny Machado Trade – 10 Months Out

Yusniel Diaz finishes his swing.
On July 18 of last season, the most bittersweet – yet expected – move finally came to fruition. The Orioles traded superstar Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers. In return, the Orioles received outfielder Yusniel Diaz, right-handers Dean Kremer and Zach Pop, and infielders Rylan Bannon and Breyvic Valera. At the time, MLB Pipeline only had three of the five pieces ranked in the Dodgers’ top-30 prospects: Diaz fourth-best, Bannon 27th, and Kremer 28th. At the end of the 2018 season, this is where they ranked in the O’s […]

What’s Up with Miguel Castro? Certainly Not His Arm…

Orioles reliever Miguel Castro has started the 2019 season the exact wrong way. Over 11 2/3 innings, the right-hander has given up 14 earned runs, 19 hits, three home runs, and seven walks, while striking out nine batters. He was never a dominant pitcher, but has shown the potential to become one out of the bullpen. Since being dealt to the Orioles, he has posted a 3.53 ERA in 2017 and 3.96 ERA in 2018. Per Brooks Baseball, His average fastball velocity over his years in Baltimore are 96.12, 95.96 […]

John’s Two-Pitch Mix Means Business

John Means pitches.
Left-hander John Means has had an exceptional start to the season for the Orioles in 2019, certainly a surprise to most. If you asked fans back during spring training, “who will be on the opening day pitching staff?,’ I’d argue the majority — if not all — would’ve left Means off the list of 12 to 13 arms. Heck, even the pitcher himself thought he was going to be an early cut from camp. He started the season in the O’s bullpen in a long-relief role, and has made two […]

Roster Moves Show Elias Takes No Shortcuts

Austin Hays slashed .351/.385/.892 with five home runs in 40 plate appearances. Chance Sisco posted a .382/.533/.765 line with four homers in 45 trips to the plate. Evan Phillips didn’t give up a single run over 9 ⅔ innings on the mound. These are just a few of multiple young players in the Orioles’ organization who played extremely well during spring training but won’t break camp with the club. So why in the world did the O’s option each of them to the minors? I’m here to try to make […]

Will Crowded Outfield Push Mullins to New Heights?

Cedric Mullins runs the bases.
On August 10 of the 2018 season, Orioles fans experienced quite a bittersweet feeling — the passing of the center field torch from Adam Jones to Cedric Mullins. The former moved from center to right field to accommodate the latter, with the expectation that Mullins would be the long-term answer for the O’s in center field. The switch-hitting rookie made an immediate impact in the lineup after taking over, slashing .317/.386/.556 for the remainder of his opening month. September was not as kind to the newcomer, however, as he batted […]

Thoughts on Proposed MLB Rule Changes

A MiLB pitcher on the mound with a pitch clock behind him.
We all love change, right? According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association are in discussion regarding multiple rule change proposals. Eight of the topics were brought to light by Passan, and I’m here to share my thoughts on each. Years ago, I used to be in the crowd that enjoyed baseball just like it was, and felt that no changes are necessary. I still enjoy the game, but I’m always open to changing the game for the better. So, without further ado, let’s […]

Five More Orioles with Plenty to Prove in 2019

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Yesterday, I listed five Orioles who have plenty to prove in 2019. Today…five more!

 

Cedric Mullins

Cedric Mullins in the batter's box.

GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

Cedric Mullins is entering his first full season with the O’s, and figures to be the Opening Day center fielder. In 45 games in the big leagues in 2018, he slashed .235/.312/.359.

In front of Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter, he may have had a comfortable first full season. But under Mike Elias and Brandon Hyde, he may have to prove to the new staff he deserves to be out there every day.

One aspect that may be addressed is Mullins’ switch-hitting ability. In his 45 games last season, he slashed .264/.319/.432 from the left side, but just .156/.296/.156 from the right.

Back in August, Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com wrote that the O’s expressed to Mullins that they may ask him to only bat left-handed going forward if he doesn’t make improvements from the right side. So, it will be interesting to see if the Elias-led staff takes a similar approach with the young outfielder this season. Mullins will have to either prove that he can stay a switch hitter, or prove that he can hit southpaws from the left side of the plate.

Additionally, with the plethora of young outfielders looking to break into the big leagues and stick around with the O’s – like D.J. Stewart, Austin Hays, Yusniel Diaz, Ryan McKenna, and maybe even Ryan Mountcastle (if he makes a position change) – Mullins will need to prove that he can produce enough at the major-league level to make Hyde write his name on the lineup card everyday beyond 2019.

Bold Prediction: Mullins won’t be a top-of-the-order type of hitter, but he’ll play well enough to start every day while batting somewhere in the six-through-nine spots in the order. Also, by the end of the season, he will abandon hitting right handed completely.

 

Renato Nunez

Embed from Getty Images

It seems like he’s older, since he’s been on MLB Pipeline’s prospect rankings since 2011, but Renato Nunez is just 24. Formerly in the Oakland Athletics organization, this is how Nunez ranked in the A’s system each year, via MLB Pipeline:

  • 2011: No. 10
  • 2012: No. 8
  • 2013: No. 3
  • 2014: No. 3
  • 2015: No. 6
  • 2016: No. 5
  • 2017: No. 20

The young third baseman was highly regarded in the A’s system through 2016, but played just 17 games total in the majors with the Athletics in 2016 and 2017. The Texas Rangers claimed him off waivers from the A’s in April of 2018 and played him in 13 games before placing him on waivers to be claimed by the O’s.

Nunez played 56 games in Triple-A Norfolk in 2018, slashing .289/.361/.443 with five homers. When Manny Machado was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers in July, the O’s called up Nunez and gave him plenty of reps.

He rewarded the O’s decision by slashing .275/.336/.445 with seven homers in 60 games.

In 2019, his job is to prove to the new staff that he is the player that scouts once thought he could be, and show that his production in 2018 wasn’t just a fluke. Elias has brought in new infield competition via waivers and the Rule V Draft with Hanser Alberto, Jack Reinheimer, Rio Ruiz, Richie Martin, and Drew Jackson all on the 40-man roster, and Chris Bostick, Jace Peterson, and Zach Vincej being non-roster invitees. So, Nunez doesn’t exactly have the everyday third base job earned just yet. It also wouldn’t surprise me if Elias isn’t done adding low-risk infielders to the organization to join the club in Sarasota.

Bold Prediction: Nunez is the Opening Day starting third baseman, but loses his starting role by the end of May.

 

Tanner Scott

GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

As a hard-throwing southpaw, Tanner Scott has shown flashes of being something special out of the bullpen. He has an electric fastball and a nasty slider, which helped him record a 12.83 K/9 rate that was the eighth-highest rate among qualified American League relievers in 2018.

However, he paired that with a 4.73 BB/9 rate, which was seventh-highest among qualified AL relievers, and a 5.40 ERA – albeit with a 3.40 FIP. Another cause for concern was his inability to consistently get right-handed hitters out, as they batted .295/.377/.500 off him last year, as opposed to lefties slashing .214/.317/.322.

There is plenty of reason to be excited for Scott’s future in the back-end of the bullpen in Baltimore. However, he needs to bring the walks down and not be limited to just a LOOGY role. He has the stuff to succeed in the big leagues. Now he just needs the command, something with which we hope a new staff may be able to help him.

Bold Prediction: Scott pitches better against right-handed batters and has a sub-3.00 ERA. He’ll see some closing opportunities, especially later in the season.

 

Chance Sisco

Chance Sisco in the batter's box..

GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

Not exactly what everyone hoped to see in 2018 for the young backstop.

Chance Sisco was ranked among the Orioles’ top prospects for multiple years leading into his major-league debut, and was ranked 45th among MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects in 2017. He was known in the minors for being an average at-best catcher who could still make strides, but his above-average bat was expected to help him succeed in the majors.

He showed that to O’s fans in 10 September games in 2017, when he slashed .333/.455/.778 with two homers in a small sample size 22 plate appearances. With a strong showing offensively throughout his minor-league career and these 10 major-league games in 2017, Sisco figured to be in competition for one of the two catcher spots in spring training of 2018.

After spring training, he earned a position on the Opening Day roster to split time – with a lesser workload – with Caleb Joseph. The O’s were ready for his bat to play well in the majors, while learning to become a better defender with mentoring from Joseph, but things didn’t go according to plan. In 63 games – he made multiple trips back and forth between Baltimore and Norfolk – Sisco slashed just .181/.288/.269.

For those keeping score at home, that’s still better than what Chris Davis produced. But unless Sisco is carrying Davis’ salary with no options available, those are numbers that make it easy to not keep him around on the roster. Sisco’s struggling even continued in the minors, as he batted just .242/.344/.352 in Norfolk.

Sisco’s job in 2019 is to prove why he got so much love as a top prospect. If he’s not going to be known as an above-average defender behind the plate, he needs to hit enough to justify being on the major-league roster. With Austin Wynns sitting above him on the depth chart and three veteran catchers – Carlos Perez, Andrew Susac, and Jesus Sucre – being added as non-roster invitees to camp, Sisco faces an uphill battle to make the Opening Day roster.

He needs to hit enough to play in the big leagues, but also prove he deserves to stay as a catcher going forward. It’ll be interesting to see how Elias and Hyde handle Sisco this season.

Bold Prediction: Sisco starts the season in Triple A, but earns a promotion to the big leagues by May. He’ll have an above-average bat to keep him in the lineup, but talk will begin to circle around him about potential position change going forward.

 

Mark Trumbo

Mark Trumbo in his fielding stance.

GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

When the Orioles acquired Mark Trumbo from the Seattle Mariners heading into the 2016 season, they received more than what they could’ve hoped for: a .256/.316/.533 slash line with 47 home runs.

The right-handed slugger expected to be rewarded with a hefty contract in free agency, but not many teams came calling. Late into the offseason, the Orioles re-signed Trumbo to a three-year, $37.5 million contract. Some viewed this deal as a bargain for the O’s, while others felt they overpaid.

Heading into the third year of the contract, Trumbo has not come close to earning his annual salary, totaling a -0.9 fWAR in two seasons. In 2017, he slashed .234/.289/.397 with 23 homers. He hit a little better in 2018, though, posting a .261/.313/.452 line with 17 long balls before being shut down with a right knee injury, which led to surgery.

In 2019, Trumbo has three things to prove:

  1. That he’s healthy,
  2. He deserves to be in the lineup every night, and
  3. That he would be a valuable asset to another team in the second half of the season.

The first goal for the power hitter should be to have a full, healthy season. He can’t do anything else if he’s not in the lineup. Next, with a logjam of his type of players – including Davis and Trey Mancini – he needs to prove that he should be in the lineup every night. If he’s slow to start the season, he could be moved to a part-time role very quickly. Lastly, he needs to hit well enough to look like an attractive piece for a contender to trade for. If he plays well enough, he could get dealt to a World Series contender midseason, and hope to compete for a ring. Being good enough should also earn him a decent major-league contract with another club next offseason.

Bold Prediction: Trumbo finds himself in a rotation between first base and designated hitter with Mancini and Davis, and he does a decent job at the plate, slashing around .245/.305/.440 with between 14-and-18 homers heading into the All-Star Break. The O’s trade him away in late July to a contender, which frees up more playing time for Mancini and up-and-coming outfielders.

Five Orioles with Much to Prove in 2019

Dylan Bundy throws in Sarasota.
Entering the first full year of the Baltimore Orioles’ rebuild, all the fans keep talking about is how the Orioles are going to have a few terrible seasons in order to become great. But what some aren’t discussing is the individual aspect of how it’s going to come together. Several players need to improve upon their respective prior performances to be a part of not only an expedited rebuild, but to be an asset for a good team going forward – whether that be with the future-contending Orioles or to […]

20 Former O’s Remain on Free Agent Market

Adam Jones sunglasses.
Although the offseason has been mostly quiet around Major League Baseball, a few familiar names have found homes via free agency this winter, like Tim Beckham with the Seattle Mariners, Zach Britton with the New York Yankees, and Brad Brach with the Chicago Cubs, to name a few. However, there are plenty of former O’s still without jobs for 2019. It’s very possible that none of these 20 players will reappear in Baltimore, but it’s certainly interesting to look into, especially since some could fill needs around here. So, let’s […]

Expect to See Many Faces on the Mound this Season

Dylan Bundy winds up in a spring training game.
The Baltimore Orioles have had over 25 pitchers throw at least one pitch off the mound in seven of ththe past ten seasons. In 2018? 30 pitchers used. Yes, the list includes Jace Peterson and Danny Valencia. That is definitely a high number of pitchers to have taken the mound in just one season, but there’s reason to believe the Orioles will top even that number in 2019. With castoffs Kevin Gausman, Zach Britton, Brad Brach, and Darren O’Day no longer wearing black and orange, there are jobs to be […]

Hyde Adds Two to O’s Coaching Staff

Jose Flores of the Phillies.
In what has been a rather quiet offseason for the Baltimore Orioles, for many reasons, new manager Brandon Hyde has begun building his coaching staff for 2019 and beyond. For his first two hires, the first-year Orioles manager recruited a couple of his old colleagues. Philadelphia Phillies first base coach Jose Flores is leaving his position to join Hyde’s staff in Baltimore, according to Joe Trezza of MLB.com. Also, per Patrick Mooney of The Athletic Chicago, Chicago Cubs minor-league field and catching coordinator Tim Cossins is departing from Chicago to […]

O’s Built to Adopt “Opener” Strategy?

On May 19 of this past season, the Tampa Bay Rays shocked the baseball world when they took veteran right-handed reliever Sergio Romo and made him the starting pitcher against the Los Angeles Angels. He didn’t proceed to pitch the game like a traditional starter, however. Instead, the right-hander pitched just the first inning against the top three of the Angels’ order – Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, and Justin Upton – striking all three of them out. He was pulled after the first inning, with southpaw starting pitcher Ryan Yarbrough […]

Should O’s Pursue Troy Tulowitzki?

Troy Tulowitzki throws the ball.
Free-agent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who hasn’t played in a Major League Baseball game since July 2017, held a workout that 11 teams attended, according to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. In the report, Brown wrote the Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres, and San Francisco Giants were the teams in attendance. The Toronto Blue Jays released the 34-year-old shortstop after he sat out the 2018 season because he was recovering from […]

O’s Leave Winter Meetings with Two New Infielders

The Baltimore Orioles haven’t been expected to make too much noise in the first offseason of the club’s rebuild under executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias, especially when there’s still a vacancy at manager (although it sounds like that search could be coming to an end very soon). Once the club officially announces the hiring of their new manager, they will be able to get on with the rest of their offseason plan, which will surely involve the new skipper’s input. However, with the annual Winter Meetings coming […]

O’s Claim Ruiz, Lose Meisinger to St. Louis

Rio Ruiz swings his bat.
The Baltimore Orioles have announced that the St. Louis Cardinals have claimed right-handed pitcher Ryan Meisinger off waivers. In addition, the O’s have claimed third baseman Rio Ruiz off waivers from the Atlanta Braves. Meisinger was an 11th round selection by the Orioles during the 2015 MLB Draft. He worked his way through each affiliate as a successful reliever in the minors. Prior to making his major-league debut in 2018, he recorded a 2.28 ERA with 36 strikeouts in 27 2/3 innings at Triple-A Norfolk. In 21 innings with the […]

Orioles’ Winter Meetings To-Do List

The annual Major League Baseball winter meetings have begun, although the hot stove got heated up unusually early this offseason. With executives and agents around the league meeting up for the week in Las Vegas, we may be seeing it cranked up another notch. Baseball fans are intrigued to see where high-priced free-agent stars Bryce Harper and Manny Machado will sign, as well as whether or not Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto or Cleveland Indians pitchers Trevor Bauer or Corey Kluber find new homes via trade. However, these aren’t topics […]

How Will O’s Distribute Time Behind the Dish in ’19?

Chance Sisco in the batter's box..
Not too often in recent years have the Baltimore Orioles had a clearly known starting catcher on the roster. In the last five seasons, the Orioles have had had the same catcher behind the dish for 100 or more games just once: Matt Wieters in 2016. I guess you could call the other four years a catcher-by-committee system for the O’s. — In 2014, when Wieters was shut down early in the season and required Tommy John surgery, time behind the plate was split up with 77, 45, and 18 […]

How Will O’s Utilize Plethora of Young Outfielders?

Cedric Mullins in the batter's box.
One bittersweet topic that has surfaced in Baltimore over the past few months is the upcoming departure of Adam Jones. Some fans may view it as just bitter, with no sweet mixture, as the long-time face of the franchise has been holding down center field in Baltimore from the start of 2008 until August 10 of this past season, when he agreed to slide to right field to pave the way for rookie Cedric Mullins. Assuming Jones will not be returning to Baltimore on a new contract this offseason, his […]

Potential FA Infield Prospects for Rebuilding O’s

Freddy Galvis throws on the run.
In the days since the Orioles finally got their front office situation sorted out – by hiring the grand-slam choice of former Astros assistant GM Mike Elias – the offseason chatter has returned to the more mundane, run-of-the-mill topics familiar to every offseason: who will be non-tendered, which free agents should the team target, etc. Speaking of non-tender candidates, one name keeps popping up here in Birdland: Tim Beckham. I have no inside information on this situation – but with some more analytical heads up top making the decisions, I […]
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