Orioles spring training prospect report: Checking in with top players in major league camp

With just as many recognizable names in the Orioles farm system as there will be on the 40-man roster, this Grapefruit League season will be just as much about learning who will be a meaningful part of the team's future as much as it is about the present.

Every lineup so far has featured players who could grow into foundational pieces of the next competitive Orioles team, and that means every day is a chance for them to make an impression.


Each week, we'll recap what the team's top prospects have done in the Grapefruit League in the previous seven days, and what their assignments during games might say about their short- and long-term futures.

And while it's a camp full of young players who could fit this billing, we'll go with anyone who has been listed in the team's chapter of the Baseball America handbook over the past two seasons, so recently graduated rookies still qualify.



Chance Sisco had his only hit of the spring in his first start Saturday against the Minnesota Twins, and it was a big one — an emphatic three-run home run in the first inning that was as clear a statement as any that he intends to make this year different than last year. He's carrying himself like the starting catcher.

Austin Wynns worked two walks and knocked a base hit in his five plate appearances over three games, a throwback to his previous springs with the Orioles. His smart approach has paid off against pitchers who are trying to get their work in.


Ryan Mountcastle got a first baseman's mitt for his birthday last week, and has played there in both of his Grapefruit League games in which he wasn't the designated hitter. What's more important is what he's done with the bat. He doubled and scored before the rains came Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Rays, and has scored both times he reached base. His batting practices are among the most impressive in camp.

With Richie Martin and Drew Jackson lined up beside each other on the infield for the first Orioles road game of the spring, manager Brandon Hyde said he had a good impression of the two Rule 5 players.

Richie Martin, one of two Rule 5 draft players in camp, got plenty of praise from manager Brandon Hyde on Monday. He's played shortstop in three games and has one hit in five at-bats, but Hyde talked up his defense, something that could be a separator as the Orioles start to make decisions.


Drew Jackson has played shortstop, second base, and center field as the Orioles try to find the limits of his boundless athleticism. It seems as if he's got the speed and arm to play anywhere, and he plays with an abandon that this franchise hasn't often seen. Jackson has two hits in six at-bats over four games.

Steve Wilkerson, like Mountcastle, has been getting some run at first base as the team tries to expose him to every position around the diamond. He's one of two players who has played in all four games, with two hits and a pair of RBIs, but could benefit from settling down somewhere in the field and getting comfortable.


Cedric Mullins showed what he can bring the Orioles as the leadoff man in the first game of the spring. He walked and stole second in the first inning, doubled and scored in the third inning, and reached on a swinging bunt single, and was a tough out when he got back in the lineup Monday. Mullins picked up just where he left off last year.

Yusniel Diaz hit a strong-man home run, pulling an outside breaking ball to left field in Saturday's game. He's gone back to the leg-lift that he came to professional baseball with instead of his toe-tap, and his four hits in 10 at-bats over four games lead the team.

Austin Hays had the exact type of at-bat that shows he's in the right mindset Sunday when he shortened up with two strikes and hit a run-scoring single the other way through the right side of the infield. His body is cooperating, too, as evidenced by his infield single to open the game as the leadoff man Tuesday, a milestone in his comeback from ankle surgery. It's notable that he played center field Tuesday with all the other options available.

Chris Davis homered in his fifth at-bat of the spring and three Orioles starter candidates pitched scoreless multi-inning outings in an 11-5 Grapefruit League loss to the Rays.

Ryan McKenna has mostly been a late replacement in games through the first four days, but he walked and scored in his first game Sunday. With so many outfielders to look at this spring, McKenna might not get too much playing time before he prepares for the season in minor league camp. The goal seems for him to learn what he'll need to get back to this point next year.

DJ Stewart is still waiting for his first hit, with a pair of strikeouts in six at-bats, and isn't getting much time in the outfield as he's been deployed as the designated hitter twice in three games.

Anthony Santander might be a forgotten man after not making it back to the majors following his assignment to Double-A Bowie last year, but he finished winter ball in Venezuela on a positive note and has two hits, including an RBI single Tuesday, in three games.


Hunter Harvey allowed a massive two-run home run to Byron Buxton on Monday but was working in the 95-97 mph range with his fastball and came out healthy, which is all anyone cares about with him at this point.

David Hess went two innings in his start Sunday, with a solo home run dinging what was a promising outing as he began to make his case for a rotation spot in the majors.

Jimmy Yacabonis might have had the best outing of anyone in the rotation race over the first four days of games Sunday, striking out three while allowing one hit in two shutout innings against the Blue Jays.

Yefry Ramirez bounced back from allowing a run on two hits in his spring debut Saturday to pitch two hitless, scoreless innings Tuesday against the Rays, with an error allowing the only runner to reach base against him.

Tanner Scott had his typical fastball velocity at 96-97 mph when he debuted Sunday, but that was about it. Four of the five batters he faced had hits and scored as he had to throw it over the plate eventually, but he'll have a bit of a leash these spring.

Dean Kremer came to camp with an oblique injury and hasn't pitched, and Hyde said it'll be a while before he's ready to do so, creating a disappointing situation for one of the most promising prospects acquired in last summer's trades.

Dillon Tate had a walk in a scoreless inning Sunday as he began to make his impression in an Orioles uniform, and remains an intriguing in-between case in the sense that he might not be in the rotation mix for breaking camp, but can force the issue if he starts the minors season well.

Luis Ortiz made his first outing of the spring between Nate Karns and Harvey, so he was easy to miss, but ran his fastball up to 96 mph while allowing a pair of runs on three hits in two innings.

Branden Kline made calm, quick work of a one-run ninth inning Sunday with three strikeouts, continuing the late-inning dominance that he brought to High-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie last year.


Zach Pop had a clean inning Saturday, but showed diminished velocity and hasn't pitched since as the team tries to keep him healthy.


Pedro Araujo would have gotten the ninth inning had it not rained Tuesday, but it did, and they only played eight. His debut is pending.

Josh Rogers had two men reach, one on a walk and one on a single, in two scoreless innings Tuesday to bring him to three shutout frames in the spring. He's impressed with his tempo, pitch-mix, and general fearless attitude so far.

Chris Lee got pushed back a day because of illness and ended up debuting Tuesday, allowing a run on two hits with a walk and a strikeout in an inning against the Rays.

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