Despite a coronavirus-shortened 60-game season, nothing has changed regarding the Orioles’ build-for-the-future approach to 2020 and beyond. But that might not be reflected in the initial roster they submit to the league by Sunday’s afternoon deadline.
The Orioles, like many teams, will use some of their allotted 60 spots on prospects who they want to get into organized action, especially with the minor league season in doubt. It just won’t happen immediately.
The first set of names the team will submit to the league will be around 40 players and almost exclusively consist of candidates to begin the season on the team’s 30-man roster for Opening Day on July 23 or 24, according to a source with direct knowledge of the plan.
The team ended spring training with 54 players and got down to 50 with some cuts before rosters froze in late March, but they’ll essentially pick up where some of those roster battles left off for the three-week camp at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The team anticipates to have all of their players available, even as the coronavirus pandemic creates questions for some around the league as to whether they’ll participate.
As camp progresses and the Orioles finalize their plans for the location of their second camp to house nonroster players — with local minor league ballparks in Aberdeen or Bowie among the top candidates — they’ll start to add high-minors prospects who could end up being part of the team’s plans later in the season.
Later, top prospects like catcher Adley Rutschman and pitchers Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall could join. The team is cautious not to leave the major league club too short-handed by stacking the camp with their top prospects who aren’t ready for major league debuts. Once a player is placed on the 60-man list of eligible players, they can only be removed through a traditional transaction like a trade, release or injury designation.
Thus, the Orioles will slowly add prospects to the roster once they have a feel for what the major league club will need, and plan to protect against the possibility of needing to tap a young prospect for emergency major league duty before he’s ready.
An organization hoping to squeeze every bit of player development capability out of this season for more than just a handful of young prospects also needs to ensure that manager Brandon Hyde will have a full complement of big league players.
Thus, the names of the highly-touted prospects that represent the future of the Orioles won’t be part of the first wave of players they submit to MLB to report to Camden Yards beginning Wednesday for camp.