With injuries to shortstop J.J. Hardy and second baseman Jonathan Schoop testing the Orioles' middle infield depth through the first weeks of the season, the outfield has been relatively stable.
Were that to change, plenty of outfielders are showing they're ready to return to the major league stage when called upon.
Four of the top five hitters for Triple-A Norfolk are outfielders or have time in the outfield this year.
While primarily a designated hitter for the Tides, Chris Parmelee has also played first base and right field for Norfolk and is batting .341/.431/.568 with a pair of home runs, four doubles, and a team-leading 12 RBIs.
Julio Borbon, who led the Tides last year with a .288 average in a team-high 124 games, has played in just six of 11 games with a .333 average, while left fielder Henry Urrutia is batting .325 with an .807 OPS. Farther down the list, Nolan Reimold is fifth on the team with a .308 average and an .849 OPS.
Only one outfielder is struggling. Dariel Alvarez, perhaps the most promising prospect among them — and the only one without big league time yet in his career — is batting .204, with 10 hits and just a single walk in 49 at-bats.
That Parmalee, Borbon, Reimold, and Urrutia, all major-league veterans of some kind, are all hitting well is a good long-term sign for the Orioles, even if there's no deed for them in Baltimore.
With Adam Jones one of the hottest hitters in baseball, and Steve Pearce, Travis Snider, and Alejandro De Aza all vying for outfield time, they might have to continue their hot starts in the International League. But for a team that values its Triple-A depth as much as the Orioles, such production is a good sign.
One area where the Orioles have lacked at the major league level is the bullpen, and that's a place where they can find some help in Norfolk. Through 11 games, the Tides bullpen has allowed 10 earned runs in 48 1/3 innings pitched, good for a 1.86 ERA entering action on Monday against Gwinnett. Left-hander Chris Jones, in his third season with the Tides, hasn't allowed a run in seven innings over four appearances this season, while Oliver Drake has thrown six shutout innings to date.
Splitting for strikeouts
Drake, who spent parts of the last four seasons in Double-A Bowie, is using what has long been considered a major-league splitter to do well early in his Triple-A debut. Of the 18 outs Drake has recorded, 12 have been by strikeouts.
Since Drake moved to the bullpen in 2013 with Bowie, he hasn't posted a strikeouts per nine inning ratio of under 11, with 12.1 in 2014 and now 18 in a small sample of 2015. The former Navy pitcher is on the 40-man roster, and with any luck, could find himself at Camden Yards before long.