FORT MYERS, FLA. — Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said he was excited to get a look at Rule 5 infielders Richie Martin and Drew Jackson side-by-side for Monday's first road trip of the spring against the Minnesota Twins, with the early impressions from each young infielder positive through the first weekend of Grapefruit League games.
Hyde said he's learned both Martin, the first pick in this year's Rule 5 draft, and Jackson, who was selected by the Philadelphia Phillies and subsequently traded to the Orioles with those same roster restrictions, are "young, athletic, smart baseball players" who the team plans on seeing as much as possible during the next month.
"They're both really, really athletic," Hyde said. "Both guys are a little bit different for me. Richie, the defense at shortstop, the way he's gone about his business, the way he's worked — and he didn't get a ball hit to him in the other game he started [Saturday] — but all his stuff with [third base coach José Flores] is exceptional. He's been exceptional defensively.
"Jackson is interesting in that he's played in multiple spots in his career. He's going to play center field here coming up shortly. He's played second, he's played short. That utility role with an athletic guy who can play multiple spots, who can run, I just think that the more of those type of players you can have on your club, the more versatility you have."
Each player must be offered back to their former club if they're not retained on the Orioles' 25-man roster at the start of the season, barring an injury that would require a trip to the injured list.
Martin started Saturday and went hitless in two at-bats, while Jackson has played twice, both as a substitute, and collected two hits and a walk in four plate appearances. Hyde noted how he went first-to-third on a single in the ninth inning of Sunday's win over the Toronto Blue Jays, and has encouraged the aggressive baserunning that saw him get caught stealing after his previous at-bat.
With both Martin and Jackson, plus reliever Pedro Araujo, who is scheduled to make his Grapefruit League debut Tuesday and has 17 days on the major league roster required before his Rule 5 stipulations drop off from last season, Hyde called it a month-long "evaluation period."
Martin and Jackson are in an infield/utility mix with Alcides Escobar, Stevie Wilkerson, Jace Peterson, Christopher Bostick, Zach Vincej, and Jack Reinheimer, while Hyde said Monday that essentially every spot other than the ones earmarked for Mychal Givens and Richard Bleier are available to be won.
"We're just trying to get as many talented players in our organization as possible, and hopefully, we'd like to hold onto as many of these guys as we can," Hyde said.
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Right-handers Dylan Bundy and Andrew Cashner threw simulated games before Sunday's Grapefruit League game, and Givens had one Monday back in Sarasota.
Beginning Thursday with Bundy's planned start against the Philadelphia Phillies, Hyde said each was going to be brought into the Grapefruit League workflow the next time through the rotation.
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Right-hander Gabriel Ynoa will start Wednesday's game against the Boston Red Sox, with left-hander John Means also scheduled to pitch for the first time in a Grapefruit League game Tuesday. Left-hander Josh Osich, who was claimed off waivers from the San Francisco Giants last week, is the only reliever who either hasn't pitched or isn't scheduled through Tuesday.