Predicting the Baltimore Orioles 25-Man Roster


Spring Training 2018 will end a week from today, the Baltimore Orioles will break camp, head north to Norfolk, Virginia for an exhibition game against the Norfolk Tides (Class AAA) and then the 2018 season will start for real on March 29th.

There has been much speculation and debate as to the players who will comprise the 25-man roster when the Orioles host the Minnesota Twins at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on the 29th .

For what it is worth, here is my best guess right now as to who will be on the roster.  This list is solely based on my opinion and no other inside information.  I have tried to read between the lines of what has been said recently in regards to certain players.

I am sorry O’s fans, Alex Cobb is not walking through the doors; the team will be finalized from within.  Repeat after me, “we like our guys”.

My 25-Man Roster:

Catchers:  Caleb Joseph, Austin Wynns ❌ (Optioned to Norfolk)

Outfielders:  Trey Mancini, Adam Jones, Colby Rasmus, Anthony Santander,                                                 Craig Gentry

Infielders:  Chris Davis, Jonathan Schoop, Manny Machado, Tim Beckham,                                                  Danny Valencia

Pitchers:  Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Andrew Cashman, Chris Tillman,                                               Mike Wright, Jr

Bullpen:  Darren O’Day, Brad Brach, Mychal Givens, Tanner Scott, Pedro Araujo,                                   Richard Bleier, Josh Edgin, Miguel Castro

Disabled List:  Zach Britton, Mark Trumbo, Gabriel Ynoa

This is my best guess at who will come north next week.  Share your thoughts O’s fans.  It’s almost time to “Play Ball”.

**UPDATE**  3/18/2018 @ 5pm: C Austin Wynns was optioned to Class-AAA Norfolk



Rule-5 Pick LHP Nestor Cortes Jr Has Less Than Two Weeks to Try and Earn Roster Spot (from @BabyBirdland)

Nestor Cortes, Jr

Left-handed pitching prospect Nestor Cortes, Jr is presenting himself well in Spring Training. His pitching performance so far, albeit decent, may not be enough yet to earn him a spot on the Baltimore Orioles’ Opening Day roster.

Cortes was selected by the Orioles in the 2017 Rule-5 Draft out of the New York Yankees organization. He was acquired at a cost of $100,000 and must remain on the Orioles’ 25-man roster for a minimum of 90 consecutive days or be offered back to the Yankees for $50,000. The Orioles could also work out a trade with the Yankees to keep him if he doesn’t meet the roster requirements.

One of three Rule-5 draft picks (Pedro Araujo and Jose Mesa, Jr were the others) in 2017, Cortes was considered an early favorite to make the roster. Whether he makes the team or not as well as what role he may fill (starter or long-reliever) is currently up for debate.

Cortes has appeared in 4 games (as of Thursday) this spring and in a span of 10.1 innings has pitched to an 0-1 record with a 4.35 ERA and 1.35 WHIP.   He has struck out 8 and walked 2 while allowing 12 hits and a .293 batting average against him. The numbers are inflated due to one game against the Toronto Blue Jays in which he allowed 3 runs and 6 hits in 3.0 innings of work; he simply lacked command and consistency in that outing.

Over his 5-year minor league career, Cortes has pitched 324.1 innings over 84 games and has earned a 25-14 record with 4 saves. He has a career 2.08 ERA and 0.996 WHIP with 344 strikeouts and 76 walks. The ability is definitely there, Cortes just needs to show it during the rest of his time in Spring Training.

Cortes’ repertoire consists of 89 mph fastball and a variety of off-speed pitches, which he throws from a variety of arm angles that keep hitters off balance. He relies on rhythm, location and command to be successful.

The big question for Cortes is, does he have a spot on the 2018 Orioles. It appears from every indication the Pedro Araujo has moved ahead of him for a coveted spot on the roster. The debate as to if he makes the team spread to a recent radio broadcast where Joe Angel and Jim Hunter discussed his prospects with Angel seeing him not making the team and Hunter placing him in the long relief role. The bottom line for Cortes is that there are few spots open for pitchers to make the club and therefore his performance needs to be spot-on for him to come north.

The Orioles need left-handed pitchers and I like what Cortes brings to the mound. He has the ability to be a solid addition to the staff: he has 10 days to show it. I’m pulling for him to do it.

** To read more from Josh Michael (founder/editor Baby Birdland), Nick Stevens and myself about all levels of the Baltimore Orioles minor leagues please visit Baby Birdland **



Taking a Look at Recently Signed Minor League Free Agent LHP Hunter Cervenka (from @BabyBirdland)

Hunter Cervenka

In what can be at best described as a move to add inventory to the system, the Baltimore Orioles signed left-handed pitcher Hunter Cervenka to a minor league contract on Tuesday.  Cervenka was subsequently assigned to the team’s minor league camp in Twin Lakes Park.

The best way to describe the 28 year-old Cervenka is minor league journeyman.  Originally drafted in the 27th round of the 2008 MLB Draft by the Boston RedSox, he has played at all six levels of the minor leagues over the past nine seasons; he has played on 11 different teams for 4 organizations (Boston, Chicago Cubs, Atlanta and Miami).

In his minor league career to date, Cervenka has appeared in 252 games, 23 of which were starts, and has thrown 425.1 innings.  He owns a 22-29 record and has saved 12 games in 23 opportunities while pitching to a 4.55 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP.  Cervenka has struck out 434 and walked 280 while allowing a .234 batting average against over his career.

Most recently released by the New Orleans Baby Cakes (Miami) of the Pacific Coast League (Class-AAA), Cervenka has appeared in 73 major league games over the past two seasons for both the Atlanta Braves and the Miami Marlins.  His MLB record is 1-0 with no saves, a 4.69 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP.  He has struck out 48 and walked 36 in 48.0 innings pitched.

This is not a signing that will assuage those fans calling for the Orioles to sign Alex Cobb; it is mainly a move to add another left-hander to the mix.  This signing seems to fit in with what Executive Vice-President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette tried to achieve in the Rule-5 Draft in 2017: acquire pitchers with 1 or more strikeouts per inning pitched.

Cervenka was assigned to the Norfolk Tides (Class-AAA) and may prove to be another player to ride the “Norfolk Shuttle”.  I see him as one of those guys brought up for a few days to pitch before being sent back down.

The bottom line is Cervenka was signed because he is a left-hander; Duquette is once again hoping to catch lightning in a bottle.  I am hoping that signings like this do not clog the system and take innings away from our better pitching prospects.


** To read more from Josh Michael (founder/editor Baby Birdland), Nick Stevens and myself about all levels of the Baltimore Orioles minor leagues please visit Baby Birdland **


RHP Hunter Harvey Has Had Some Ups and Downs This Spring (from @BabyBirdland)

Hunter Harvey

Baltimore Orioles right-handed pitching prospect and 2013 first round draft pick Hunter Harvey is pitching well in Spring Training. Despite that fact and the team’s glaring need for a fifth starting pitcher, Harvey needs to start the 2018 season in the Minor Leagues and remain there for the duration.

Harvey’s most recent start occurred yesterday and was a 7-3 split squad win over the Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers, Florida. Credited with the win, he threw 3.0 innings and surrendered 4 hits and 2 runs (1 earned). Tagged with a throwing error and 2 wild pitches, Harvey gave up a homerun, walked one and struck out 3.

So far this spring Harvey has started 3 games (including yesterday’s) and has a 1-0 record, 3.86 ERA and 1.86 WHIP over 7.0 innings pitched. He has surrendered 9 hits and 2 homeruns while walking 4 and striking out 7. Harvey is allowing a .310 batting average this spring and has a 0.86 ground out to fly out ratio.

It was announced before yesterday’s game by manager Buck Showalter (as reported by Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun) that the plan for Harvey going forward is to pitch a simulated game the next time his spot comes up in the Spring Training rotation and then have him pitch against the New York Yankees on March 21st.

Easily, one of the most talked about and speculated upon prospects this spring; Harvey is still working his way back from Tommy John surgery. In limited work in 2017, Harvey made 8 starts over three levels (Class-Rookie, A Short and A High) and pitched a total of 18.2 innings to a 0-1 record with a 0.96 ERA and 0.91 WHIP. He gave up 11 hits and 2 earned runs while walking 6 and striking out 30.

Despite speculation, that I think borders on wishful thinking, as to Harvey getting called up mid-season, I am of the opinion that he needs an entire year in the minors. Challenge him at Class-AA Bowie and see how he does; send him down and leave him alone The 2019 season will be here soon enough and then at that time the Orioles can follow the blueprint they used in Dylan Bundy’s return from the same surgery except they will be under no time constraints to put Harvey in the Major Leagues (Bundy had a contractual provision that he be called up by a certain time).

The Orioles’ track record of developing pitchers, especially high draft picks, is spotty at best. They cannot afford to get this wrong. Not much is known after 2018 and if the Orioles see Harvey as an integral part of the future they cannot mess this up.

Send Harvey to the minors and let him build arm strength and confidence; rushing him is not an option. The future prospects of the team may hinge on Harvey’s health. I hope the Orioles handle him the right way.

** To read more from Josh Michael (founder/editor Baby Birdland), Nick Stevens and myself about all levels of the Baltimore Orioles minor leagues please visit Baby Birdland **





Seeing Time in Right Field is a Good Sign for Baltimore Orioles’ Prospect OF D.J. Stewart (from @BabyBirdland)

DJ Stewart

Baltimore Orioles outfield prospect D.J. Stewart looks to now be a part of the right field mix at the Major League level.

Stewart, the Orioles 2015 first round draft pick (25th overall), has been utilized as a defensive replacement in right field during the past three spring training games despite a minor league career mainly spent as a left fielder. He has played in left field in 274 of his 278 career MiLB games and in right field in just the other 4 games.

The “try out” in right field is significant because it may be the only way to currently get Stewart’s left-handed bat into the Orioles’ major league lineup.  It is well known that the Orioles are in need of left handed bats and with right field being the only position “open” at the present time it makes sense to see what the former first round pick can do there.

Through Thursday’s games, Stewart is performing offensively just as one might expect from a player who is in his first major league spring training camp. In 15 at bats over a span of 12 spring training games he is slashing .200/ .333/ .200 with 1 RBI, 3 walks and 3 strikeouts. These numbers are about what would be expected from a player getting at least 1 at bat per game.

Stewart earned the invite to camp this year based on his 2017 season in Bowie (Class-AA) where he slashed .278/ .378/ .481 with 79 RBI, 21 homeruns and 20 stolen bases. The 2017 season followed a successful second half of 2016 where he .279/ .389/ .448 with 30 RBI and 6 homeruns in Frederick (Class-A High). I mention this only because the early knock on Stewart was that he was not living up to his status as a first round draft pick.

The numbers indicate that Stewart is turning the corner in his career and that he is maturing into the type of hitter the Orioles hoped they were getting when they drafted him out of Florida State. The move to right field is seen as a positive sign that the front office envisions Stewart as a part of the future in Baltimore.

The candidates for right field for the Orioles are numerous so I do not see Stewart breaking camp with the big club this year. Rather, I see him starting the 2018 season in the outfield for the Norfolk Tides (Class-AAA). I am anxious to see what position he plays the majority of the time there, as it will provide clues as to what the future may hold for him. D.J. Stewart is certainly a prospect to keep an eye on; he may call Oriole Park at Camden Yards home in the near future.


** To read more from Josh Michael (founder/editor Baby Birdland), Nick Stevens and myself about all levels of the Baltimore Orioles minor leagues please visit Baby Birdland **



What Orioles Prospects Are You Interested In?


Regular readers of this blog are aware that I provide updates on several Baltimore Oriole prospects daily during the season.  The 2018 season is fast approaching so it is time to once again begin the “Just One Fan’s” prospect reports.

I have a few prospects in mind for 2018 but I don’t want to limit the report to just those few.

I would like to hear from the readers: who would you like to see daily updates on?  Who are the prospects you’re interested in?

Comment here or drop me a line with the players you are interested in and they may become a part of the report.  The Orioles’ minor league system is on the upswing and I want to highlight some of those players.

Let me hear from you Orioles fans.

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