Rickard has another strong night, but he faces more competition in the Orioles' outfield - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Rickard has another strong night, but he faces more competition in the Orioles’ outfield

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

BALTIMORE—Joey Rickard has been perhaps the most overlooked Oriole this season. It was just over two years ago that a promising rookie season ended at Yankee Stadium when Rickard injured his right thumb trying to catch a ball against the right-field wall.

Rickard, who was a Rule 5 draft choice, hit .268 in 2016, with five home runs and 19 RBIs.

Last season was a troubling one for Rickard. No longer did he have Rule 5 protection, and the Orioles sent him to Triple-A Norfolk in August to make room for another Rule 5 pick, Anthony Santander.

Even though his stay in the minor leagues was barely over two weeks, it was sobering, and Rickard limped to a .241 average.

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With Craig Gentry on hand, Rickard was no longer the only outfielder who could play all three outfield positions, be used as a defensive replacement and pinch-run.

Gentry was back this year, and Rickard began the season in the minors after a horrible offensive spring training.

In 2018, he’s had time in both Norfolk and Baltimore, and after his second five-RBI game of the season in an 11-2 Orioles win over Tampa Bay on Saturday, Rickard is hitting .214 with six home runs and 18 RBIs in 43 games. He also hit a three-run double in Friday’s 15-5 victory.

Rickard returned to the Orioles July 4, a day after Colby Rasmus unexpectedly left the team. Gentry has been on the disabled list since late last month with a broken rib.

Gentry is nearing his return. He’ll begin a rehab assignment Monday night at Low-A Delmarva, and Rickard may have to go back to the Tides one more time.

When Rickard was drafted in December 2015 from the Rays’ organization, the Orioles trumpeted his on-base numbers. That season, in three minor league levels, Rickard had a .427 OBP.

Although Rickard did have a .319 OBP in 2016, last year was a struggle. He struck out seven times as often as he walked (63 strikeouts to nine walks), and his on-base percentage was just .276.

This year, the strikeout-to-walk ratio is better, but not great. Rickard has struck just under three times as often as he’s walked (29 strikeouts, 10 walks.)

The Orioles’ system seems packed with outfielders. Besides Santander who’s at Double-A Bowie but now on the minor league disabled list because of cellulitis, there’s Cedric Mullins, nearing a promotion to the Orioles, DJ Stewart, the No. 1 pick in 2015, and Ryan McKenna. Mullins and Stewart are at Norfolk. McKenna is at Bowie.

Austin Hays, who had a breakout year in 2017, has been injured most of the season, and is at Short-Season Aberdeen, making sure his ankle gets stronger. Hays spent the final month of 2017 with the Orioles, but the team decided he needed remedial work, and he was sent to Bowie to start 2018. He’s expected to rejoin the Baysox shortly.

Add 21-year-old Cuban Yusniel Diaz, who’s also with the Baysox, and the 27-year-old Rickard’s chances of remaining with the Orioles beyond this season look less than promising.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. woody

    July 29, 2018 at 7:10 am

    For me his offensive numbers are concerning. He simply doesn’t hit enough groundballs to utilize his speed. Everybody has a role to play in this team and for him it should be pure hustle down the baseline. Without dramatic changes to his batting profile I think he’s short of the mark.

    • SpinMaster

      July 31, 2018 at 10:05 am

      I agree with you Woody. Rickard seems to fall into the Oriole batting syndrome of swinging for the fences on every pitch. He, like Beckham should be hit it all over the field, take a walk, go deep into counts type of hitter to set the table for Schoop, Jones, Trumbo, etc. We really don’t need another home run or strike out type of hitter and besides, we have some talent on the farm that needs to get at bats so we can see what we have for the future.
      Rickard could be part of that future if he will modify his approach to hitting.

  2. Orial

    July 29, 2018 at 8:56 am

    Yes Rickard seems to have taken this recent opportunity at full speed but his role looks like a 4th or 5th OFer best. Popular guy though,huh? Rich speaking of OFers the rumors of Cuban. OF prospect Mesa signing with O’s are very intriguing. What is your take and when will MLB make him available? Any truth that MLB would delay releasing his status being that there is this so called feud with Angelos and MLB(actually read that somewhere)?

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 29, 2018 at 1:33 pm

      I don’t know when the Orioles will make Victor Victor Mesa available, but the Orioles will be interested. I can’t imagine that MLB will delay making him available because of the MASN suit That only penalizes the player, Orial, because other teams are interested in him, too.

  3. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    July 29, 2018 at 9:46 am

    When he first came up and made the team out of ST in 2016, I thought might turn out and be a good 4th OF. However, his numbers have declined since then. With the current players in the system with Mullins, Stewart, Hayes, and now Diaz. I doubt he has much of a future with the Orioles moving forward.

  4. John in Cincy

    August 1, 2018 at 12:02 am

    “…Rickard’s chances of remaining with the Orioles beyond this season look less than promising.”
    …………………………….
    Are you expressing an opinion, Rich, or have insider knowledge? You aren’t the only one kicking Joey to the curb, so to speak, but he’s weathered a lot of “his days are numbered” comments before now, and bounced back. He’s been one of Buck’s favorites, so that counts for something. Also, it’s particularly odd timing for such an article coming off of the heels of the series with the Rays in which he was one of the major offensive stars for the O’s, something you didn’t even mention (?).

    I agree with you that he’ll have a good deal of competition, but most of the players mentioned are far from locks, at least not next year. Mullins, okay, he’s the next center fielder–it’s his to lose. But beyond him, what other locks are there? Mancini, I guess, though he hasn’t exactly been tearing it up for the Orioles this year (though we know he’s better than he’s been performing), and Rickard’s at least as good an outfielder.

    The other prospects are all iffy for one reason or another. Hays has had a setback this year. McKenna’s intriguing, but most of the season he spent with the Keys, so it looks like he has a little more seasoning to go. Santander’s just been okay for Bowie. Stewart’s another who’s just having an okay year. Diaz looks to be a couple of years away. Ditto Mesa, presuming the O’s sign him.

    Gentry may provide some competition when he returns, as he’s the club’s best defensive outfielder, but at his age will he get anything guaranteed in 2019 beyond at most an invitation to camp? Trumbo’s just a DH who occasionally sees time in the field.

    For me the biggest question mark is Adam Jones. Many think he’s through with the Orioles after this year, and maybe so, but to me it makes some sense re-signing him if he’s willing to move to right. He can be a great mentor for Cedric and the other young outfielders, adds strong veteran presence and is a reliable bat in the lineup.

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