Griesser’s Suggested Change of the Week
With so many players having been called up for September roster expansion and the upcoming end of all minor league play, there’s going to be far fewer moves to be made for the remainder of the year. As a result, this will be the last regular installment of the Suggested Change of the Week, at least until the offseason.
Still, I do think there’s one managerial change for the Orioles to make, and that revolves around making a consistent dedication to youth.
This year, the Orioles made an investment in promising shortstop Richie Martin by plucking him from Oakland’s minor league system in the Rule 5 Draft. In doing so, they expected to keep Martin on the roster for the entire year so that he is able to join their system for the foreseeable future.
Martin’s calling card has always been his glove, and he’s made incredibly slick plays at the position from the get-go. However, despite a solid season at the plate in 2018, Martin’s bat does not match his glove at this point in time. The Orioles were hoping his offensive turnaround may continue, but the youngster struggled mightily at the plate this year. As a result of that and the emergence of infielder Hanser Alberto, he hasn’t seen as much playing time as I expected.
At this point in the season, though, I believe Martin’s playing time should increase. The Orioles are bringing up other players who will likely struggle at the major league level, so why not invest the most time in the young prospect/player who probably has the higher potential than anyone else they called to the bigs.
Batting just .195 in 2019, there’s not a whole lot of reasons to have confidence in Martin’s bat, but there’s only one way to find out whether or not he can produce.
I think there’s a very high possibility that Elias decides to start Martin at AAA Norfolk in 2020, but again, if he’s here in the majors now, it’s worth giving him the regular playing time he may need to improve.
For many major leaguers, it’s difficult to generate consistency at the plate when you’re not getting there often; we regularly see this with pinch hitters or backup catchers. With Martin playing so infrequently, I think it’s possible he could show improvement and bump his average over the Mendoza line if he’s playing every day.
Additionally, while a likely argument against starting Martin each time out would be that continued poor performance could harm his confidence and lead to further struggles in the future, I think it also presents an opportunity for his confidence to rise. Considering the rarity of his appearances in the lineup, I have a hard time believing his confidence is particularly high as it is, but if he were to finish the year strong after playing every day, that would prove to him that he is capable and could give him the kick he needs to swing the bat better in future years. The Orioles have to hope that his hitting turns around because if it does, he could man the 6-spot for years to come.
On top of that, even if Martin didn’t see have an offensively successful September, I don’t think his confidence would dip that much. Like I said, Elias and the Orioles organization have shown a willingness to invest in Martin and jumped at the opportunity to bring him into their system. Clearly, they recognize the potential he has and will continue to work with him, despite his tough start to MLB play. Knowing that and taking solace in it, Martin might be more capable of recovering from a poor season than others who aren’t as sure of their spot in the organization would be.