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Orioles’ spring roster features 10 invitees, 22 camp reserves including Adley Rutschman; Heston Kjerstad recovering from myocarditis

Just days ahead of spring training, the Orioles revealed who will be in camp in Sarasota, Florida, this month with a group of 10 traditional nonroster invitees and 22 camp reserves, including top prospects Adley Rutschman, Heston Kjerstad and Gunnar Henderson in the latter group.

“We’re very excited about the start of baseball and spring training, and very excited to see a lot of these names on the same piece of paper,” executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said. “It’s obviously a very interesting group.”

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These players will supplement the 40-man roster in spring training through the monthlong Grapefruit League calendar that begins Feb. 28.

Elias explained several aspects of the camp that will be different from years past, including the lack of a companion minor league camp. The major league camp roster will be split between the Ed Smith Stadium complex and Twin Lakes Park, where minor league camp is traditionally held. But he said the distinction between the NRIs and the camp reserves wasn’t a significant one.

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“Obviously, 72 guys aren’t going to make the team, and obviously, we’re going to need to narrow that,” Elias said. “I think a lot of the players on the camp reserve list have a very good chance of making the team, but it just didn’t seem right to me to have 72 non-roster invitations to major league spring training.”

Six of the nonroster invitees are pitchers, including rotation candidates Félix Hernández and Wade LeBlanc, plus left-hander Fernando Abad, right-hander Marcos Diplán, right-hander Thomas Eshelman and right-hander Conner Greene. Newcomer Nick Ciuffo joins Taylor Davis and Austin Wynns as nonroster invitees at catcher, with Stevie Wilkerson the lone infielder.

The camp reserve designation is a new one for the Orioles, and includes a mix of players with major league experience like relievers Cody Carroll, Eric Hanhold, Evan Phillips and left-hander Josh Rogers as well as other prospects.

Rutschman, who was in camp last year as a nonroster invitee and is the top prospect in the organization, is one of several camp reserves.

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The remaining camp reserves include pitchers Jay Flaa, Mickey Jannis, Dusten Knight, Zach Muckenhirn, Konner Wade and Spenser Watkins; catchers Brett Cumberland and Maverick Handley; infielders Adam Hall, Mason McCoy, Seth Mejias-Brean, Ryan Ripken, Terrin Vavra and Jordan Westburg; and outfielder Chris Shaw.

Teams are allowed 75 players in camp at a time. Including their 40-man roster players, the Orioles will have 72 once the full squad reports for its first workout on Feb. 23.

When the Orioles faced similar restrictions on roster size and uncertainty about what would be available to minor league players during the shortened 2020 season. The Associated Press reported Friday that Triple-A is currently planning for a full season starting at the beginning of April, but that could be pushed back a month. Those players would be preparing for the season alongside the major leaguers.

The current expectation is that minor league spring training will begin once major league spring training ends, and that season will start in early May after and extend through the end of September. With that, the Orioles won’t want to ramp up their top prospects too quickly if their seasons aren’t set to start any time soon and will extend deeper than ever.

Kjerstad recovering from myocarditis

Kjerstad, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 draft and the Orioles’ fourth-best prospect, didn’t participate in fall instructional camp and will have a delayed start to major league camp this year due to “an episode of myocarditis,” Elias said.

According to the Mayo Clinic, myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle that can cause abnormal heartbeats.

“He’s doing really well, and we’re going to have him at the camp but we’re still emerging from the timeline of that,” Elias said. “It’s a big of a lengthy recovery timeline and there are also risk factors associated with the ongoing pandemic that we’ve had to be very mindful and very careful about with that as well.”

Minor league affiliations announced

The divisional alignments for the new system of minor league baseball were announced for 2021 and beyond, with new unnamed leagues replacing the traditional ones at each level. Affiliates agreed to 10-year contracts with the major league teams to extend their player development agreements through the 2030 season.

The Norfolk Tides will play in Triple-A East in the Southeast division, the Bowie Baysox will be in Double-A Northeast’s Southwest division, the Aberdeen IronBirds will play in High-A East’s North Division, and the Delmarva Shorebirds will play in the Low-A East’s North Division.

The Frederick Keys, who will be in MLB’s new Draft League for college players, begin play on May 24.

SPRING TRAINING

Key dates for the Orioles’ preseason preparations in Sarasota, Florida:

Tuesday: Pitchers and catchers report

Feb. 23: Position players report

Feb. 27: First exhibition game vs. Atlanta Braves

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