After the Orioles completed 18½ innings of Grapefruit League baseball in one day Thursday, manager Buck Showalter talked less about how long the day was and more about having the opportunity to watch minor league players he might not normally see.
Sixteen different players who were shuttled in from the Orioles’ early minor league camp played in Thursday’s two split-squad games, including nine in the road nightcap against the New York Yankees at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. In fact, the Orioles’ starting lineup had two minor leaguers in it – second baseman Adrian Marin and shortstop Erick Salcedo.
In Tampa, Showalter got his first look at outfielder Austin Hays, the team’s fast-tracked third-round draft pick last season, and first baseman Aderlin Rodriguez, a 25-year-old who has spent eight seasons in the minors. In the day game in Sarasota, 25-year-old Dominican pitcher Jefri Hernandez threw a second scoreless outing.
Showalter was equally interested in seeing all three.
The night ended with Showalter watching 30-year-old career minor leaguer Cody Satterwhite, who has spent most of the past two years in Triple-A and also pitched in Japan before signing with the Orioles as a minor league free agent.
Showalter wants to get as many looks as he can, because he realizes that these players could eventually become possibilities for the major league club.
“Somebody that's coming into these games [or] out of minicamp is going to pitch for us -- maybe more than one -- this year,” Showalter said. “Some of these position players that we run out there, it behooves us [to see them now], because the opportunity to see them, as we know, will start dwindling before too long.”
Seeing this many minor league players in games this early in camp is rare. Losing players to the World Baseball Classic will continue to open some opportunities. And the Orioles will take advantage.