As the Orioles get set to embark on what may be a tough campaign, it’s clear that the most enjoyable approach for fans to take is to watch the development of certain players. While I would normally just predict the averages of what I believe will be the Opening Day lineup and rotation, I’ll dedicate some of this week’s blog to predicting when certain players will be called up and how they’ll perform.
This is what I believe will be the Opening Day starting lineup and pitching rotation, with projected numbers.
- RF Joey Rickard – .270/15/58
- CF Cedric Mullins – .252/20/65
- 2B Jonathan Villar – .273/18/68
- LF Trey Mancini – .288/28/89
- DH Mark Trumbo – .268/24/80
- C Chance Sisco – .255/21/72
- 1B Chris Davis – .203/16/50
- 3B Rio Ruiz – .249/18/61
- Richie Martin – .254/12/67
Bench (3): C Pedro Severino, UTL Drew Jackson, OF Dwight Smith Jr.
Obviously, this lineup is nothing to get excited about, but it will have some fresh faces and youth that will be fun to watch. Next, here are my projections for the starting rotation.
- Alex Cobb: 13-15, 4.24 ERA
- Dylan Bundy: 16-12, 3.98 ERA
- Andrew Cashner: 11-13, 4.88 ERA
- David Hess: 9-15, 5.04 ERA
- Mike Wright: 3-7, 5.23 ERA
Bullpen (8): Michael Givens, Richard Bleier, Miguel Castro, Paul Fry, Nate
Karns, John Means, Jimmy Yacabonis, Pedro Araujo
In all honesty, I’m not fully conceding that the Orioles’ front-end of the rotation will be awful. I think Cobb showed signs of turning the corner at the end of the season and could be in for a decent year, and I would love to see Bundy progress into someone the team can consistently rely on over the course of a full season. As for the back-end, I think it’ll be pretty dreadful, and if you notice my expectations for Mike Wright, I believe he’ll break camp with the team before quickly proving to be an illegitimate option and getting cut. In his place, I expect Elias to give multiple pitchers shots, including Josh Rogers, Yefry Ramirez, Keegan Akin, Luis Ortiz, Dean Kremer, and Dillon Tate.
Now that all the numbers are sorted out, I think the more important part of this season is seeing when certain players will be called up to the major league club. Here are all the prospects I think will be given an opportunity, as well as when I think they’re shot will make sense.
OF Austin Hays: June 10th
He will be the first major prospect called up to the Orioles, in my opinion. Hays showed very well this spring and I believe was simply sent down to see if he can replicate the performance in AAA. I believe he will be called up in an Orioles off day when the team has been fed up with Chris Davis. The corresponding move will be to put Mancini at first and Hays in left.
OF Anthony Santander: June 17th
Early-to-mid June will be the start of the youth movement for the Orioles. At this point, I’m fairly certain that their fate will be settled, and because I don’t expect Dwight Smith Jr. to be much of a factor, I feel that a strong start to the season by Santander could land him a starting spot in right field with the Orioles. As a result of that, Joey Rickard will become the defensive replacement. In an exciting string of moves, the Orioles’ new look outfield will go: Hays, Mullins, Santander.
INF Ryan Mountcastle: July 20th
At this point in the season, it’s very possible that Mark Trumbo will have been dealt, even if it was just for low-level prospects. With that move, however, an opening is generated at DH, and I feel that it could make sense to put Mountcastle up for MLB at-bats in a sort of platoon with Rio Ruiz between third and DH. I know the O’s are fiddling with Mountcastle at first, but in my opinion, that position should be Trey Mancini’s for now.
SP Hunter Harvey: August 5th
Perhaps this is the most surprising call up that I’m making this year, but Hunter Harvey needs to be given his shot to start sometime, and I think it’ll be in early August of this year. At that point, it’s very possible that one or two of the three main starters in the O’s rotation have been traded, and that many of the other options (Ramirez, Ortiz, Rogers, etc.) have been given their chance. Sure, it’s possible that one or two of those guys will stick and force Harvey to stay in the minors for 2019, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Elias wants to see what he has in Harvey at the major league level once he demonstrates improved health.
OF Yusniel Diaz: September Call Ups
For some reason, I feel that Diaz will be the last of the Orioles’ outfield prospects at AAA to make it to the majors. Without a doubt, he is their most promising player in the minor league system, and I wonder if that will lead Elias to refrain from starting his clock. Needless to say, Diaz’s debut will be an exciting day/night for the Orioles, I just feel that it will come later than many expect.