Spring Training is often considered boring, or unimportant, and too long for fans. While that might be true in some cases, especially for fans of teams full of veterans, one of the underrated aspects of spring training is that it gives fans an extended look at how their farm systems are doing.
Spring Training can be a long boring drag for (some) fans, but it is important for the prospects who might need to impress the team’s brass to keep their jobs or be better positioned to make the majors.
So here are five non-roster invites who could impress for the Orioles in Spring Training.
Shed Long Jr., INF
The Orioles signed Shed Long Jr. to a Minor league deal during the lockout. Long has impressive exit velocity numbers and can play good defense at second, but he needs to cut down on the strikeouts. Long has a strikeout rate of 27% for his career, and he struck out 32% of the time last year. What makes him interesting is that he hits the ball hard and can barrel up baseballs. This alone will make him an intriguing option for the infield, and he does have decent contact rates when he does get a pitch in the zone. Long will be an exciting option if long can fix his strikeout problems, because he can hit a lot of home runs and is very exciting when he is locked in.
Patrick Dorrian, INF
Patrick Dorrian is one of the most underrated prospects in the Orioles system. Dorrian’s primary tool is his power. He hit 22 home runs last year and 21 doubles between AA and AAA. Dorian also had an OBP of .362 with a Slugging Percentage of .461. The issue with him is that his profile is a little limited. Dorrian has power and can get on base, but he is shaky at third and isn’t particularly fast either. Dorrian also does strike out a lot and doesn’t hit for a high average.
Dorrian is a really good power hitter who will always bring value to wherever he plays because he can change the game’s flow in one swing. Dorrian will still need to show he can be more than a good power hitter and fix his defense if he wants to impress the Orioles brass.
Nick Vespi, LHP
Nick Vespi can provide value to the Orioles bullpen this year. Vespi has great velocity with some nasty break. His pitches have some great movement to them, and he is unhittable out of the bullpen when he is on. Vespi got left off the 40-man roster and many expected him to be taken in the Rule V Draft. However, it got canceled, and Vespi was able to come back to the Orioles. Vespi went through a really bad slump once he got to Triple-A, his biggest concern. Vespi can lose control from time to time, but his stuff is so nasty that he can make up for the bad moments.
Robert Neustrom, OF
Robert Neustrom is another prospect that returned to the Orioles after being left off the 40-man. Neustrom has some serious power, and he can be a fun player to watch because he can hit some long home runs. Neustrom launches home runs with his effortless left-handed swing and his fast hands. When Neustrom gets a pitch he can hit, it can be fun to watch as his home runs go a very long way. Neustrom also has solid defense in left or right and has a strong throwing arm as well. He will have to learn how to control his power and make better contact, but if he can do that, he could factor into the O’s future.
Kyle Stowers, OF
Kyle Stowers has a lot in common with Neustrom. He has a lot of power and has a vicious swing that he uses to demolish baseballs. His swing is also very aggressive, and he looks like he wants to kill the baseball on every swing. Stowers also has good defense in right with a strong arm. Stowers also needs to learn how to cut down on his strikeouts as his swing can get long, and he can be way too aggressive with his approach. Like I mentioned with Neustrom, if Stowers does make better adjustments to his swing and approach, he could be primed for getting playing time at the MLB level.
Those are my five prospects that could impress the Orioles brass. While Spring Training can be boring for some, the prospects need to show the team’s brass what they have improved upon and show where they deserve to play in the coming months.