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Orioles notes: DJ Stewart excited for first big league camp, minor league managers named

The lofty expectations of being a first-round draft pick have followed outfielder DJ Stewart since the Orioles selected him 25th overall out of Florida State in 2015. But as the 24-year-old Stewart reported early to his first big league camp Friday, he’s eager to build on the breakout season that led to his nonroster invitation.

“It feels great,” Stewart said Friday morning, three days before the team’s first full-squad workout. “To finally get the opportunity to come over here and learn from the guys who have been doing it for so long, it’s a great opportunity for me and a great time for me to learn and get as much information and become a better player.”

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Stewart is coming off his best year as a professional, a season that included 21 homers and 20 steals along with an .859 OPS that came playing at Double-A Bowie, legitimizing his status as a prospect.

“I think I just got back to being who I was,” he said. “And the older you get, the more mature you become and just staying within myself and not trying to do too much and try to put [aside] the name and title of where I was drafted and just going out there and relaxing and have fun again, and I had a successful season.”

Stewart knows he has the pressure of living up to being a first-round pick. But he began his pro career with two pedestrian seasons.

“Your first impression is a lasting impression, so I wanted to do everything I could for everyone to know who I was,” Stewart said. “And I think I put that in my head a little bit too much, so kind of going back to the basics and just being DJ and that’s all I can do to be successful for myself.”

Still, Stewart said he didn’t expect a big league camp invitation to come — he is one of nine players listed as outfielders on the big league camp roster. While he relishes the chance to learn from veterans, he hopes to stay focused on the same routine that led to last year’s success.

“I was grateful for the opportunity and really excited when I found I was coming,” Stewart said. “It’s always good to see yourself get rewarded for the things that you do, but you can’t be complacent. Just because I got invited, it’s still a job. I still have to come over here and work. I still have to prove myself, and that’s what I’m looking to do every single day.”

Orioles announce minor league staffs

The Orioles announced their minor league staffs Friday, and former farmhand Buck Britton was promoted from hitting coach to manager at Low-A Delmarva.

Britton, who is the older brother of Orioles closer Zach Britton, spent seven of his nine professional seasons in the Orioles organization, and impressed the organization in 2017 in his first year as a coach.

“He’s going to have some good people around him,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “I think [player development director] Brian [Graham] saw some things last year that [he suspected] would come out. A lot of guys from his background make good coaches [or] managers because he’s a guy that everybody trusted [and] liked to have on their club. They fought to have him on their club because of all the intangibles he brought and still brings. He’s going to be a good manager.

“There’s no job beneath him. … I don’t think he’ll change from the player he was. He was a guy you liked having around. He’s inquisitive, has a nice presentation. He’s a guy you’d love to see guys follow and emulate.”

Britton will make his managing debut at the age of 31. Showalter can relate, as he made his minor league managing debut at the age of 28 in the New York Yankees organization at Short-A Oneonta.

“The challenge the first year you’re doing it is to try to not do too much,” Showalter said. “I think Brian has talked to him a lot about things, and I’m going to talk to him a little bit at some point. I kind of look at back when I was starting out at 28, 27, whatever it was. There’s some similarities there.”

Former Orioles third baseman Ryan Minor, who has been the manager at Delmarva for six of the past seven years, moved up to High-A Frederick, where he managed in 2013.

Also, Keith Bodie, who managed the Keys the past two seasons, will become the Frederick hitting coach.

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Britton’s old position as Delmarva hitting coach will be assumed by Bobby Rose, who comes over from the Texas Rangers organization, where he was a hitting instructor with Short-A Spokane, Low-A Hickory and High-A High Desert and Down East over the past five seasons.

Ron Johnson (Triple-A Norfolk), Gary Kendall (Double-A Bowie), Kevin Bradshaw (Short-A Aberdeen) and Carlos Tosca (Gulf Coast League) all return managing the Orioles’ other minor league affiliates.

Around the horn

Former Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts will join the Orioles’ radio broadcasts on 105.7 The Fan for select games as a game analyst this season, the club announced Friday. Roberts also served as an analyst on select MASN TV broadcasts last season. … Showalter said Zach Britton (ruptured right Achilles tendon), who was placed on the 60-day disabled list to make 40-man roster space for starter Andrew Cashner, will be eligible to return from the DL on May 28. … Aside from Stewart, first baseman Chris Davis and nonroster infielder Ryan Mountcastle were among the position players who worked out Friday in advance of Monday’s first full-squad workout.

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