Let’s do some prognosticating this weekend – spring training style.
As Paul Folkemer wrote in his piece Friday, the Orioles seemingly always have a player that puts together a huge spring and raises eyebrows within the organization.
Some even push their way onto the 25-man roster with monster Grapefruit League performances – Jake Fox, we hardly knew ye – only to lose steam when the regular-season grind kicks in.
The Orioles played their first Grapefruit League game of 2017 on Friday — a 2-0 victory against the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, Fla. The Orioles face the Pittsburgh Pirates today in Bradenton and then host the Pirates in Sarasota on Sunday to in their home opener at Ed Smith Stadium.
Inspired by the exhibition season beginning — and Folkemer’s reminiscing of Fox, Endy Chavez and Evan Meek — I thought I’d ask you for your prediction for the eventual winner of the “Jake Fox Award,” the fictional accolade that goes to the player who surges the most in Orioles’ camp.
It’s fun and harmless. I may even give you a drink chip next month if you get it right. I’ll go first.
I’m saying Johnny Giavotella, the 29-year-old infielder and former second-round pick of the Kansas City Royals who was the Los Angeles Angels’ Opening Day second baseman in 2016. He can hit, and he plays with lots of energy. Those two attributes often stand out in the spring when pitchers are “getting their work in.”
Plus, regular second baseman Jonathan Schoop will be gone for a chunk of camp while playing in the World Baseball Classic, so Giavotella will get a decent look. I doubt Giavotella can do enough to make the 25-man roster, but he could pave the way for a call-up from Triple-A later this season if he impresses in March. And, for the record, I made this call before he had three singles against the Tigers on Friday. Your bartender wouldn’t lie.
So, I’ve got my fictional money in this fictional dive on Giavotella.
It’s now your turn. Pick someone that you think will raise expectations this spring. It doesn’t have to be a non-roster invitee. It can be a prospect on the 40-man roster or even someone expected to be on the 25-man roster that you think will have a ridiculously good spring.
Tap-In Question: Who will be this year’s Jake Fox in Orioles’ Grapefruit League games?