Orioles' non-roster invitees could play big role in 2024 - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Orioles’ non-roster invitees could play big role in 2024

Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

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When the Orioles report to the Ed Smith Stadium complex in Sarasota next month, they may have 60 or more players in the main clubhouse and a smaller auxiliary one.

Most of the players on the 40-man roster, which has two open slots, are known to Oriole fans. Some of the others who’ll be extended invitations to spring training are big-name prospects.

Those will be some well-known prospects who were in major league camp a year ago — shortstop Jackson Holliday, infielder Connor Norby and corner infielder Coby Mayo.

Pitching prospect Cade Povich, who was also in camp last year, will be back again.

Last year, the Orioles had 31 non-roster invitees.

Some others who weren’t in camp in 2023 should be there this year. Catcher/first baseman Samuel Basallo, who’s now the fifth highest-ranking prospect in the organization, according to MLB Pipeline, could be there. Basallo started the season at Single-A Delmarva, along with Holliday, and ended the year at Double-A Bowie.

Chayce McDermott, the highest-ranked pitching prospect and 10th-ranked overall, is a likely invitee. Justin Armbruester, another highly thought of right-hander, should be, too.

It’s possible outfielder Enrique Bradfield Jr., last year’s No. 1 draft choice, will join the group. There also could be outfielders Dylan Beavers, Jud Fabian, Hudson Haskin and third basemen Mac Horvath and Max Wagner, who had surgery to excise a fractured hook of hamate in his left hand last month.

These prospects should join many of those signed to minor league contracts last week: catchers David Bañuelos and Michael Pérez, right-handers Wandisson Charles, who was invited to camp a year ago, Albert Suárez and Nathan Webb, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery last month, left-handers Luis Gonzalez and Jakob Hernandez.

Catcher Maverick Handley, who was in camp last year and spent most of the year at Triple-A Norfolk, will probably return. So should infielder Terrin Vavra, who’s played 67 games for the Orioles the past two seasons but lost his place on the 40-man roster early in the offseason.

Reliever Tucker Davidson, who was claimed off waivers from Kansas City on October 25th, was also taken off the 40-man roster. The 27-year-old left-hander has a 3-10 record and a 5.98 ERA in 55 games with the Braves, Angels and Royals the last four seasons. He’s expected to be in camp, too.

Last year was a good year for the non-roster players. Infielder Jordan Westburg, outfielders Colton Cowser and Heston Kjerstad, all high draft choices and top prospects, made their major league debuts. So did pitcher Chris Valimont.

Others who saw a bit of major league action were right-handed pitcher Reed Garrett, catchers Anthony Bemboom and Mark Koloszvary and first baseman Josh Lester.

Another invitee, Ryan O’Hearn, didn’t make the team out of spring training but played an essential role for the Orioles. O’Hearn played more with the Orioles than he did with Kansas City in his five previous seasons, hitting a career-best .289 with an .801 OPS in 112 games. He hit 14 homers and 60 RBIs.

Free agent update: Besides starters Kyle Gibson, who signed with St. Louis, and Jack Flaherty, who’s joining Detroit, on one-year contracts, the Orioles’ other three major league free agents are still available.

Second baseman Adam Frazier, who played in 141 games and set career highs with 13 home runs and 60 RBIs last season, has been linked with Pittsburgh. Frazier played his first six seasons with the Pirates.

Outfielder Aaron Hicks and reliever Shintaro Fujinami, both in-season acquisitions, are still looking for a new team.

Minor league first baseman Lewin Díaz, who was part of a competition last spring along with Lester, O’Hearn and Franchy Cordero, signed a minor league contract with Washington last month. Diaz, who had 112 games of major league experience with Miami, was the only one of the four who didn’t play in the big leagues last season. He hit .268 with an .804 OPS for Norfolk, which won the Triple-A championship, along with 17 homers and 64 RBIs.

The jockeying among the non-roster first basemen, none of whom made the Opening Day roster, was one of the enduring stories of last spring. Cordero, who opted out of his minor league contract when he didn’t make the Orioles, hit .188 in 24 games with the New York Yankees. He signed last month with the Seibu Lions in Japan.

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