submitted by Adam Mann
Baseball is right around the corner. If you’re like me, the thought of turning on the TV night after night to watch the O’s can bring about mixed emotions.
It’s fun to watch the prospects develop and imagine what the team might be like in a few years. But man, it can be hard to imagine that future sometimes when the team gets knocked around game after game. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t turn a few games off last season when the score kept running up. And I’d be lying if I said I won’t do it again this year.
But the good thing is in Spring Training there’s little chance of the scores getting run up on a frequent basis. Everyone is trying out new things and seeing who they’ve got in the pipeline.
Fans of teams that hope to compete for a title are going to be frustrated during Spring Training because they want to get a feel for the team they’ll be trotting out onto the field all year (think back to watching O’s Grapefruit league games in say, 2015). But every other player is someone that won’t be on the big-league roster come April. Furthermore, when you’re trying to check out your newest additions how much can you take away from a hit or a home run against minor league competition?
This is where O’s fans have a leg up. When 2016 second-round pick Keegan Akin strikes out a big leaguer it’s something you can get excited about. O’s fans are going to get to see 23-year-old Zac Lowther take his first crack in an Orioles uniform. Hunter Harvey showed last year that he belongs at the MLB level, and he will almost certainly break camp with the squad. That’s big news in Birdland.
For Orioles fans in 2020 there’s likely to be no better time than Spring. People gripe and complain about preseason football. In years past when the Orioles had the chance at making the postseason you might’ve had the same feeling about Spring Training: just ready to get it over with and get to the games that matter.
But no one has any delusions about the Orioles making a postseason run in 2020. Even the most optimistic fans are projecting a season with 100 losses. So, for the Orioles in 2020… none of the games really matter. At least not as far as the final scores go.
This year is all about player development and prospects. And what’s the biggest draw for Spring Training year after year? You get to see the prospects.
That’s what makes this Spring Training one of the most exciting the Orioles have had in years. With 22 non-roster invitees coming along with everyone on the 40-man roster, there are going to be prospects everywhere.
And not just any prospects. Really good prospects. The Orioles have already announced that the first-round pick from last June, Adley Rutschman, will be there. The biggest name the Orioles got in the Manny Machado trade, Yusniel Diaz will be there as well.
Ryan McKenna, Zac Lowther, and Ryan Mountcastle are three more standout names that will be showing up in Sarasota. Spring Training might just be the most exciting time of the year for Orioles fans this year.
These aren’t guys that you’ll be seeing come Opening Day 2020. It’s a glimpse of the Orioles of the future. A glimpse you get to see today.
They are the guys that will be on the Major League roster sooner or later. It’s the one time in 2020 you’ll get to see the players that have a chance of bringing a World Series to Baltimore in an Orioles uniform.
So, crack open a beer, turn on the games, sit back and enjoy. There’s no doubt that it’s going to be a long season for the Orioles, but the Spring, at least, is bright.