Welcome to the final TWO DAYS before opening day! I hope you have been enjoying spring training as much as I have. Baseball is back in less than 48 HOURS! I am overjoyed! At the beginning of March, the official Ball Boy Blog previews of all 30 teams began. The previews feature all the Free Agent signings, trades, NRI, bold predictions, and some cool fun facts at the end! We are starting at the top of the 2020 ranks and working our way down from best to worst! Enjoy!
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AL Team: Baltimore Orioles
Last Year Record: 25-35 finished 4th in the AL East
Record x2.7: 67.5-94.5
Vegas Projected: Vegas has the Orioles winning 64.5 games in 2021. I am taking the under on the O's as I have them winning 60 games with a last-place finish in the AL East 34 games out of first and 20 games from 4th place.
Departed Free Agents:
DH/1B/3B Renato Nunez(FA), 2B Hanser Alberto(non-tendered), RHP Gray Fenter(Rule 5), SP Wade LeBlanc, C Bryan Holaday,
RHP Alex Cobb, RHP Miguel Padilla
Free Agent Signings:
-SS Freddy Galvis- Last season with the Red's Glavis slashed .220/.308/.404 with 7HR. The switch-hitting SS will give the Orioles a top-10 player defensively at the position.
-The Orioles inked INF Maikel Franco to a deal. Franco played in all 60games with the Royals in 2020, posting a .278/.321/.457 line together. Franco singing is an excellent fit for the O's and could be flipped for value down the line.
INF Jahmai Jones- Jones went 3-7 in his brief time at the MLB level in 2020
Rule 5 Draftees:
RHSP Mac Sceroler-The 25yo has three seasons of experience in the MiLB. He has pitched in 56 games, with 47 of those being starts with a 9-16 record. He owns a 4.07ERA, 5.27RA/9, 1.28WHIP with 252K-75BB over 239IP. Sceroler looks to be in line for a bullpen role with the O's in 2021.
RHSP Tyler Wells- The 26yo has played three seasons in the MiLB reading AA back in 2018. During his time at the AA, he has posted a 2-2 record with a 1.65ERA, 1.65RA/9, 1.06WHIP with 39K-14BB over 32.2IP. The sample size is minimal, but there is a considerable upside here for O's, and I look to see Wells in the rotation come opening day.
1B/OF Chris Shaw- in 1000 MiLB PA, he owns a .280/.328/.538 slash line, but he does carry a 30% K rate. In 82 MLB PA, he has 31K to go with a slash line of .153/.244/.222
RHP Ashton Goudeau- The 28yo made his MLB debut in 2020, pitching 8.1IP allowing 7ER, 15H with only 2K. At the AA level in 2019, he pitched to a 2.07ERA/2.05FIP, 10.5K/9, 44% groundball rate over 78.1IP in 16 starts.
RHP Felix Hernandez and RHP Matt Harvey- The King and The Dark Knight are working their way back from injuries to show they have a little left in the tank to give to a team.
LHP Wade LeBlanc- In 2020, he owned an 8.06ERA over 22.1IP. He will look to make the roster again and stay healthy and give better results.
RHP Conner Greene- the 25yo hasn't played well in his time at the high minors. But he does have a mid-high 90's fastball. Greene has plenty of experience starting and will be a nice depth piece for the Orioles' rotation/pen.
RHP Thomas Eshelman- Eshelman posted a 3.89 ERA over 34 2/3 innings, starting four of his ten outings.
C Nick Cuiffo, RHP Claudio Custodio, LHP Fernando Abad, RHP Marcos Diplan, C Taylor Davis, C Austin Wynns, INF Stevie Wilkerson
C Pedro Severino, OF Anthony Santander, OF Trey Mancini, RHP Shawn Armstrong, SS Pat Valaika
INF Rylan Bannon, OF Yusniel Diaz, RHP Michael Baumann, RHP Isaac Mattson, LHP Zac Lowther, LHP Alexander Wells.
Returning from IL:
1B/OF Trey Mancini, 1B Chris Davis, SS Richie Martin
C Adley Rutschman, 1B Ryan Mountcastle, OF Yusniel Diaz
-The Rookie I am watching is Ryan Mountcastle and, of course, C Adley Rutschman. Not only is Rutschman a Tik Tok star, but he is also a phenomenal player behind the dish. Look for this duo to be the primary building blocks of the future for the O's.
-MLB's top-100 prospect 2B Rylan Bannon as of 3/17 notched 7BB-6K and parts of 13 games in spring to that point.
Fantasy Impact Players
Pitchers- The only pitcher I would consider on the O's until I see them in the regular season is RHP Cesar Valdez.
Position- The O's position players are either young or vets who are solid but not great. Take your chances on 1B/OF Trey Mancini, 1B Ryan Mountcastle, 3B Maikel Franco, OF Anthony Santander
Upcoming 2022 Free Agents:
-If Felix and Harvey make the roster, they will be free-agents.
-Newcomers SS Freddy Galvis, Maikel Franco both will be free-agents next season and most likely will be on different teams to end the season.
-2B Yolmer Sanchez, SP Wade LeBlanc will also be free-agents to the end of the season.
Storylines to follow
-If you haven't seen Cesar Valdez's exceptional changeup, it's NASTY! Last season in nine games, he had opposing hitters lost as they went 6-43 with 12K and no HR.
-Pitchers Matt Harvey, rookie Keegan Akin have both looked to be making continuous adjustments to impact 2021.
-The NRI I am watching, along with King Felix and the Dark Knight, is RHP Conner Greene. Greene is only 25yo and has a mid-high 90's fastball. I am interested to see how the O's work him in. Both Felix and Harvey are working to pad their border-line Hall of Fame resumes. The rebounds are coming from Felix Hernandez and Matt Harvey. Yes, King Felix and the Dark Knight are both in O's camp on minors deals, and if they both stay healthy through spring, both should make the opening day roster. Both will prove to all of us they still have it and will dominate for the O's in 2021.
-Either Trey Mancini pushes for the MVP, or Ryan Mountcastle gets the RoY is as bold as I can get for the O's in 2021.
-The breakout season is here for 1B Ryan Mountcastle. He is still Rookie eligible through 2021. After playing in 35 games for the O's in 2020, he posted a 0.7WAR, .333/.386/.492 slash in 126AB. Give me an entire season from Mountcastle at that level or close to it; we have a 24yo STUD!
OK, so Chris "Crush" Davis cheated, got caught, and got suspended. But Davis went a long way toward redeeming himself just a few days later when he helped lift an overturned pickup truck off a man pinned underneath it. Jean Valjean stuff.
Thanks for reading today, I am so grateful for your time reading, and I hope you enjoyed reviewing and previewing the O's 2021. I also want to thank my partners over at Repp Sports for RAZE Energy. Thanks to this clean and sufficient energy, I can have the intense focus to deliver content to you guys consistently. Click here to save 15% right now with the code "BALL BOY" at check out.