At December’s Winter Meetings, Orioles general manager Mike Elias said that last year’s overall No. 1 draft choice, Adley Rutschman, would attend major league spring training in Sarasota, Florida.
What Elias didn’t say was that Rutschman would be officially invited. Though it was assumed Rutschman would get an invitation, the Orioles have yet to make it official, although MLB.com reported on Monday that he would. An industry source confirmed the news.
Rutschman will be the most heavily scrutinized of the non-roster invites. The Orioles have yet to release a list of those invitations.
He’ll be able to catch some of the many pitchers who will be in spring training, get to know them, and learn from the big league staff.
Manager Brandon Hyde and coaches Tim Cossins and Fredi Gonzalez are former catchers who will be eager to watch Rutschman work for the first time when pitchers and catchers report to the Ed Smith Stadium complex on February 11.
Grapefruit League games begin February 22, and the Orioles’ first home game in Sarasota is the 23rd. Rutschman will likely play in some early games.
Those February games aren’t usually heavily attended, and his presence could attract attention. He’ll head to minor league camp after a few weeks and begin preparing for his 2020 season, most likely at High-A Frederick.
Elias made clear in San Diego that Rutschman wouldn’t be playing for the Orioles in 2020, and that he expected him to spend time at each minor league level.
Minor league invitations: Rutschman will be one of perhaps three catchers not on the 40-man roster to get invitations.
Martin Cervenka, whose re-signing was announced in early December, and Bryan Holaday, signed last week, will join him. The Orioles need at least six catchers for the large number of pitchers they’re likely to bring to camp.
Cesar Valdez, who was signed to a minor league contract on January 10, will likely join a number of fringe starting rotation candidates — Ty Blach, Tom Eshelman, Luis Ortiz and Chandler Shepherd, all of whom started for the Orioles at some point last season.
Rob Zastryzny, who was one of the 12 players signed to minor league contracts in December, could get an invitation, too.
Eric Hanhold, who passed through waivers earlier this month, should be in camp, and it’s possible that Marcos Díplan, who also was outrighted, could come. Left-hander Hunter Cervenka has a good chance to receive an invitation, too.
The Orioles already have 21 pitchers on the major league roster and could sign more, even though there are a limited number of innings in intrasquad and Grapefruit League games,
There are split-squad games on February 25, when a large squad could come in handy.
Having 30 or more pitchers in camp probably means that some of the non-roster pitchers likely to start the season at Triple-A Norfolk or Double-A Bowie — Michael Baumann, DL Hall, Zac Lowther, Alex Wells and Bruce Zimmermann — won’t get major league looks this spring.
A year ago, Keegan Akin didn’t get a major league invitation and while Hyde was intrigued by him, there weren’t enough innings. For the hopefuls other than Akin, it looks to be the same this year.
Infielder Dilson Herrera will get a call, and it’s possible that Jose Rondon, who was re-signed in December, comes, too.
Jesmuel Valentin, who has big league experience with Philadelphia and played for Bowie last year, could come to camp, as could Malquin Canelo and Angelo Mora. Those three and Rondon were re-signed in December.
Outfielder Mason Williams, the biggest name of those re-signed last month, and Yusniel Diaz also will be in camp.
Answers to Monday’s Great Orioles Quiz
1)- Joe Nolan, 2)-C, 3) Steve Carlton, Joe Morgan, Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Tony Perez, Cal Ripken Jr., Mike Schmidt, 4) John Denny, Scott McGregor, 5) Detroit Tigers, 6) C, 7) Tommy Hunter, 8) Luis Exposito, 9) Matt Albers, Rich Hill, Darnell McDonald, Andrew Miller, 10) C, 11) Dick Hall, 12) Paul Bako, 13) They all caught for the 2007 Orioles, 14) Daniel Cabrera, Brian Burres, Rob Bell, Paul Shuey, 15) Ryan Flaherty, 16) A, 17) Billy Hunter, Bob Kennedy, Sam Mele, Les Moss, 18) Bob Turley, 19) 40, 6, 34, 20) George Kell, 21) Bullpen coach, 22) Ottawa, 23) Ken Levine, 24) A, 25) Kyle Hudson, 26) Frank Wren, 27) Mark Wiley, 28) “River of Dreams” by Billy Joel, 29) Gary Allenson, Terry Crowley, Jeff Datz, Alan Dunn, Rick Kranitz, John Shelby, 30) D
More on Valdez: Valdez’s signing earlier this month was not announced by the club, but it appeared on MLB.com’s transactions page. He’s 34 and is 2-3 with a 7.64 ERA in 20 games, six of them starts. Valdez pitched in 2010 for Arizona, and in 2017 for Oakland and Toronto.
Last season, Valdez went 15-2 with a 2.26 ERA for Yucatan in the Mexican League.
Former Oriole update: Caleb Joseph, who wanted to return to the Orioles, has signed a minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Arnie Beyeler, who coached first base last season, will manage Double-A Erie in the Detroit Tigers organization. Beyeler was one of three coaches not retained on manager Brandon Hyde’s staff.
Assistant hitting coach Howie Clark will be the hitting coach for Triple-A Charlotte in the Chicago White Sox organization. There’s no word on former bullpen coach John Wasdin’s plans for 2020.
Orioles Talk: Former Orioles pitcher and current MASN broadcaster Dave Johnson joins BaltimoreBaseball.com co-founder and senior writer for The Athletic Baltimore, Dan Connolly, for the 10th annual Hot Stove Talk on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Zion Lutheran Church 2215 Brandywine Lane, York, Pennsylvania.
There is no admission fee for the event, but a freewill offering will be taken to assist the church’s youth ministry in fundraising for the 2021 National Youth Gathering in Minneapolis.