Elias: Spring training roster ‘good indication for the future’ - BaltimoreBaseball.com


Elias: Spring training roster ‘good indication for the future’

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

UPPER MARLBORO-Heading into his second spring training as Orioles general manager, Mike Elias can picture the future. Though the team is still not close to contention, Elias said there are players heading to Sarasota for the start of spring training on Tuesday whom he expects to be in Baltimore sooner rather than later.

“A lot of those guys are going to have a chance to make the team out of spring training, and if they don’t they’re going to be in Triple-A and knocking on the door,” Elias said on Saturday at the Birdland Caravan stop at the Calvert Brewing Company in Upper Marlboro. “And, obviously, we have some of our younger guys coming. I just think we’re going to be seeing more and more of that, and it’s a good indication for the future.”

Pitchers Keegan Akin and Dean Kremer, outfielder Ryan McKenna and infielder Ryan Mountcastle will be in Sarasota as part of the 40-man roster. Pitchers Zac Lowther, Alex Wells and Bruce Zimmmermann, infielder Rylan Bannon and outfielder Yusniel Diaz are non-roster invitees. Elias said pitcher Michael Baumann was also considered for a non-roster invite and might get some innings with the team early in spring training.

Each player was in Double-A Bowie or higher last year, and Mountcastle could be in Baltimore early this season. As for the pitchers, Elias said he prefers that they spend another year in the minors.

“Some guys move really fast … but Triple A [Norfolk] is not easy, and it just depends on the case,” Elias said. “For us, we are prioritizing development over individual players right now.”

Last year’s overall No. 1 draft pick, catcher Adley Rutschman, will be in camp as well, although no decision has been made on where he’ll start in the minors in 2020. Elias mentioned he could start in High-A Frederick, but that he might be back in Low-A Delmarva for a short time to start the year. Rutschman started last year in the Gulf Coast League before being promoted to short season Single-A Aberdeen and then Delmarva for the Shorebirds’ playoff run.

“I think a guy with his pedigree, profile and age … typically those guys will start in High-A,” Elias said. “But we’re not going to set anything in stone. We’ll talk to him and the coaches about it. We haven’t made any decisions about where he’s at.”

By drafting Rutschman and seeing a number of other players take steps forward, the Orioles’ farm system is in a better place than it was at the beginning of last year. According to Baseball America, the Orioles had the No. 22 farm system in the MLB before the 2019 season. By the end of last season, it had moved up to ninth. Rutschman (No. 5), pitcher Grayson Rodriguez (No. 35) and pitcher DL Hall (No. 47) were included on the publication’s Top 100 list.

“It’s not everything, but it’s a barometer and over time there are now multiple credible organizations that rank farm systems and prospects,” Elias said. “When you look across four or five, you can start to get the picture. Doesn’t mean you’re going to be right or wrong about everything but with our farm system going from consensus bottom 10 to now at this time being No. 9 to No. 15, I think there’s something there.”


McKenna ready to get started:  As an outfielder for the Bowie Baysox last year, McKenna got a first-hand look at some of the Orioles’ top minor league talent. Baumann, Kremer, Lowther, Wells and Zimmermann pitched well in Double-A, and Diaz showed flashes at the plate and in the field despite nagging injuries.

“The talent we have in the system up and down the organization is very exciting.,” McKenna said. “I’m going to continue to praise those guys for what they’ve done and what they’re capable of in the future. It’s going to be a fun time for everyone, and I’m excited as a teammate as well.”

It’s been a different offseason for McKenna, 22, who slashed .232/.321/.365 in Double-A last season. The Orioles added him to the 40-man roster in November to protect him from being selected in the Rule 5 draft, which McKenna called “a pretty significant milestone.”

Instead of going home for the winter, he spent the past few months working out at Dynamic Sports Training (DST) in Houston with other professional baseball players. Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa and third baseman Alex Bregman, and Colorado Rockies outfielder David Dahl have trained at the facility in recent years. At DST, he focused on having a better bat path with his swing and general improvement.

As he heads into his second major league spring training, McKenna said he has a better idea of what to expect and has a blueprint for making the most of the opportunity.

“[The Orioles] know what I’m capable of,” McKenna said. “Being confident in that and showing what I can do and being motivated and competitive to make the team along with being an encouraging teammate. It’s just balancing everything, and I’m excited to be a part of it.”




    February 9, 2020 at 8:52 am

    I wish somebody would ask Elias why he did not promote any of the very effective Bowie rotation to Norfolk last year. He made Lowther, Wells, etc all stay at Bowie all year.. This does give him an excuse not to let any of them come north with the O’s. “No triple a experience”
    It also helps the O’s have another terrible staff in 2020 and TANK again.

    • ClayDal

      February 9, 2020 at 9:47 am

      Since Alex Wells signed with the Orioles, he has spent a full year at each level. 2017 at Delmarva , 2018 at Frederick, 2019 at Bowie. Baumann started last year at Frederick, and was promoted to Bowie, Dean Kremer started the year at Bowie and finished at Norfolk. Lowther was only drafted in 2017. Alex Wells is only 22. What the Orioles are doing is no different than what other teams do with young pitchers. No need to rush them and hinder their development. Tampa Bay usually has their pitchers spend 1 full year at each level. They’ve been successful. If these guys succeed at Norfolk this year, they will be up here later this year or next year.


        February 9, 2020 at 1:17 pm

        And Mike Sorotka was a star last year at 22 in the rotation for the Braves. So “every” other team does not promote as S L O W as the O’s. Have your every heard of Acuna and Albies with the Braves? Do you think the “Boy Genius” would have promoted them as quickly as they did?

    • ClayDal

      February 9, 2020 at 2:03 pm

      Soroka was a 1st round pick in 2015. Made the Braves 3 years later at the end of 2018. Acuna signed in 2015 as an 18 year old. Came up 3 years later as a 21 year old. Albies signed in 2013 as a 17 year old and came up 4 years later. All those instances 3-5 years. Alex Wells signed in 2015, didn’t start with Aberdeen until 2016. Every year he has spent a full year at each level. Zac Lowther was drafted in 2017 as was Bauman. They have only been in the minors 2 full years. You mentioned Bobby Cox. Glavine was drafted in 1984, came up in 87. Smoltz , drafted in 85, debut in 88. 3 years for each. And they are Hall of Famers. The average pitcher needs more time to develop . John Means spent 5 years in the minors. Seems to have worked out. The Orioles in the past rushed Hayden Penn, Daniel Cabrera, and Sidney Ponson. Not to mention Kevin Gausman. The Orioles aren’t contenders, so let the young guys develop so that they aren’t rushed and have to ride the Norfolk shuttle

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        February 9, 2020 at 3:45 pm

        You know, I’m about as impatient with the movement of our young position players movement through the system, as anybody. But when it comes to pitching, I’m of the opinion that in today’s game, it’s probably a good idea to take it slower. Not because the young guys aren’t ready to throw at the top level, but because the collective pitch count and wear and tear on the arms at a young age seems to help nobody. . Everybody just throws sooooo very hard, and they throw this hard all the time, that today’s players seem much more susceptible to injury than in the past. And once a the arm is hurt, they may never be the same again despite the advances of modern medicine. You need look no further than one Dylan Bundy. That guy was near untouchable as an 18/19 year old. He was ready for the league in year one, but then we all know what happened.

        Let’s take the time necessary with the young pitchers.

        • Baltimore Castaway

          February 9, 2020 at 7:10 pm

          Have to say that I agree w you Boog.

    • Baltimore Castaway

      February 9, 2020 at 7:16 pm

      So–if Elias was to promote Akin, Lowther, Wells and Bauman to the Orioles this April, how many more wins would the team have at the end the season?? 5? 7? 10 (maybe)?

      He would have “started the clock” on their ML timeline, risked injury through rushing any or all of them, risked seriously damaging their confidence, and set the organization back to doing everything on a piecemeal basis without having a bigger plan….

      Am not going to get into a debate w you, but if you want to see these guys in 2020 get in your car and go to Bowie or drive to Norfolk for a weekend–its a beautiful place and a lovely drive..

      Come on Man….

      • Jbigle1

        February 10, 2020 at 2:36 am

        The correct answer to your question is probably closer to 0. It’s extremely arrogant to think those guys can out pitch guys like Woj right now. Most of those names listed aren’t even close to top pitching prospects—and pitchers have the highest bust rate of any position to begin with. It’s likely about half those name you listed won’t be any better than Tyler Wilson or Mike Wright.
        Unfortunate but likely true.
        They aren’t ready for the big leagues yet. Let them get ready in AAA. Akin looked not so hot in AAA last year. He is really the only one with any kind of argument to crack the roster with a strong spring.

  2. Fareastern89

    February 9, 2020 at 8:57 am

    It’s nice to hear from McKenna, who sometimes gets overlooked — perhaps because he hasn’t progressed as far and as fast with the bat as some had hoped. Maybe this year he’ll make a major leap forward.

  3. Bman

    February 9, 2020 at 10:03 am

    It’s going to start to get interesting over the next year in terms of prospects making the leap forward to the big leagues. Lots of guys in the pipeline and more high draft picks coming. Pretty excited to see some of them develop and make the jump soon.

  4. Raymo

    February 9, 2020 at 10:30 am

    Rich, who pays the DST fees, the club or the player?

    • Rich Dubroff

      February 9, 2020 at 12:28 pm

      What are DST fees?

    • Raymo

      February 9, 2020 at 1:33 pm

      The cost to attend Dynamic Sports Training.

    • Rich Dubroff

      February 9, 2020 at 2:06 pm

      I would believe the club does.

  5. Oscarcamden2020

    February 9, 2020 at 12:23 pm

    Analytics aside. Palmer was 19 and in the ML.
    The O’s will lose over 100 this season. Let the kids play and who ever sticks will deserve it. I’m already growing bored of all over excuses

    • ClayDal

      February 9, 2020 at 12:32 pm

      How many Jim Palmer’s are out there? The average pitcher needs about 3-5 years before they are ready. John Means was 26 last year. The fact that the Orioles are probably going to lose close to 100 games actually allows the pitchers in the minors to develop properly. It’s when the team is competitive that pitchers tend to get rushed to the majors out of necessity. The Orioles can afford to be patient


      February 9, 2020 at 1:18 pm

      YES!!! I read a while back that the Braves philosophy was to bring up young players and see if they could succeed in the bigs. But the Braves and Bobby Cox CLEARLY are not as smart as the “Boy Genius”.

      • Baltimore Castaway

        February 9, 2020 at 7:18 pm

        You could easily argue that.

  6. willmiranda

    February 9, 2020 at 12:33 pm

    Given the team’s recent history, I find it hard to believe that “a lot of those guys” really have a credible chance of making the team our of Spring Training.

    • CalsPals

      February 9, 2020 at 3:38 pm

      Quite a few of their spring training stats indicated they could have made the team out of spring training last yr, their stats mean nothing to Elias, he’ll follow what he thinks is best & what offers the most team control…go O’s…

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        February 9, 2020 at 3:56 pm

        CalsPals … it wasn’t JUST last springs stats that indicated they should make the team, but Hays, Sisco and Santander all had successful minor league seasons to boot! It’s not like they came from nowhere. They were know commodities going into camp. But yeah I know what you’re saying If you’re really going to have ‘competition’ in camp, then you need to reward those that win the competition.

    • CalsPals

      February 9, 2020 at 4:19 pm

      Absolutely…go O’s..

  7. Oscarcamden2020

    February 9, 2020 at 5:15 pm

    I understand not rushing these kids to the ML. EXAMPLE, Mullins. But if these players are not going to be here in 3 years let’s see what we get for them on the trade market? I’m not rich. I don’t have all the answers. But I would enjoy watching some of these players throughout the year.

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