The Orioles will send their pitchers and catchers down to Sarasota today to begin the Spring Training workouts. The 2019 campaign figures to be a rough one for O’s fans, but one exciting thing to watch will be the operations of new GM Mike Elias and Manager Brandon Hyde. With that in mind, one of the first big decisions those two have to make will be the team’s Opening Day 25-man roster. Of course, it’s a very real possibility that one or more players who make that final squad aren’t yet on the 40-man, and it’s also worth noting that there will be a great deal of shuffling of youth talent this year. Still, I am interested enough to make my own early predictions for the way things will shake out before any games take place. Here’s my outlook on what the Opening Day roster will be.
Pitchers: Dylan Bundy, Alex Cobb, Andrew Cashner, Nate Karns, David Hess, Mychal Givens, Richard Bleier, Miguel Castro, Paul Fry, Tanner Scott, Brandon Kline, Jimmy Yacabonis
With the addition of Nate Karns, the starting rotation became a bit easier to predict. I think that David Hess is the most “ready” of all the options for that number 5 spot in the rotation, which will give him that role to start the season, but guys like Yefry Ramirez, Luis Ortiz, and even John Means or Keegan Akin could push for this spot in short time. As for the bullpen, the only potential surprise in who I’ve selected is Brandon Kline. He had a nice season last year and seems to be one of the potential arms to find his way to Camden Yards this summer, so I’m going to go ahead and say that he has a strong enough spring to break camp with the birds.
Catchers: Austin Wynns, Chance Sisco, Jesus Sucre
This was the toughest decision for me, actually. Chance Sisco had something of a lost season last year, and I’m sure everyone hopes that he can prove himself this coming year. It might make sense to give him reps in Norfolk if he doesn’t have a strong spring, but given the possibility of drafting the catcher Adley Rutschman in the draft this year, Elias might want to see if Sisco shows signs of potential in the majors, at least for a little while.
Infielders: Chris Davis, Jonathan Villar, Richie Martin, Drew Jackson, Renato Nunez
The only intriguing thing about this position group are the Rule-5 players. In my opinion, the Orioles should keep both men on board out of Spring Training, unless someone else jumps out as a must-have on the roster. If anyone were to do that, I’d have my money on Steve Wilkerson, but I don’t see him having the bat to force Elias away from holding onto both Martin and Jackson.
Outfielders: Trey Mancini, Mark Trumbo, Cedric Mullins, DJ Stewart, Eric Young Jr.
Once again, this position group wasn’t too difficult. The Orioles did recently add Eric Young Jr. to the group, which was somewhat surprising to me off the bat, but after thinking for a little while I think his role is going to be a defensive and speed replacement and a veteran clubhouse guy. I like him as someone to mentor Cedric Mullins in his first full season in the big leagues. When this group (and potentially the infield, as well) will get interesting is going to be around the Trade Deadline, when Mark Trumbo could – and should – get moved. That’s when players like Ryan McKenna, Austin Hays, or Anthony Santander could find themselves vouching for a spot on the roster.