Kyle Stowers is proud of how feels mentally and bodily. The younger Orioles outfielder is as “confident as I think I’ve ever felt.” But every of his previous few video games, he’s been left with one at-bat he’s sad with.
“If I feel like I’m swinging at pitches with the intent I want to have on those pitches, and if I get out doing that or strike out, then so be it,” Stowers mentioned. “But if I go through an-bat and kind of seem to be on the pitcher’s terms a little more, that’s the thing that can be a little more frustrating.”
Each at-bat shall be very important for Stowers over the following two weeks because the Orioles type out the ultimate spots on the offensive facet of their roster. He doesn’t set numerical benchmarks for himself and, amid spring coaching, he’s not even essentially involved with getting hits. But he needs to do all the pieces he can to indicate he deserves one among Baltimore’s 26 roster spots come March 30.
His competitors is doing the identical. Of the 20 infielders and outfielders nonetheless on the Orioles’ camp roster, seven are a part of a roster battle for what seems to be two spots earmarked for left-handed hitters. Nearly all of them are performing nicely this spring.
After getting sporadic enjoying time as rookies, Stowers and Terrin Vavra are each impressing, with Vavra exhibiting the potential to be a brilliant utility participant. Nonroster invitees Franchy Cordero, Ryan O’Hearn, Lewin Díaz and Josh Lester have all carried out offensively, although O’Hearn and Díaz have lately been sidelined with accidents. Only Nomar Mazara has struggled, and he nonetheless delivered a two-run single Thursday.
“I love the competition that’s going on with those guys,” supervisor Brandon Hyde mentioned earlier this week.
Here’s a player-by-player take a look at how every has carried out this spring.
Stowers recorded a success in every of his first 5 video games this spring, believing he was locked into every at-bat, attacking the pitches he can do injury towards and hitting them exhausting. It confirmed within the outcomes, with a .385 batting common and .962 OPS. He’s light of late, with three hits towards 5 strikeouts as his total line has light to .276/.382/.414, boosted by a run-scoring triple Thursday.
“I hold myself to a very high standard and feel like there’s still more in the tank,” Stowers mentioned.
Stowers carried out nicely in restricted enjoying time final yr, his first stint within the majors. His place on the 40-man roster would possibly assist his effort to make the roster, although opening one for any of the NRIs doesn’t determine to be too troublesome for the Orioles.
“There’s a lot of guys that are playing well, and they’re all super good dudes, so it’s super easy to pull for them,” Stowers mentioned. “There’s been so many guys that have put together really good springs, and it ups the ante for everyone else.”
Like Stowers, Vavra bought his first style of the majors final yr and did nicely when he really bought to see the sector. He spent his offseason coaching to play “everywhere,” and though he’s come wanting that this spring, he’s nonetheless proven essentially the most versatility of this group.
Vavra has performed second, third and the outfield whereas getting some observe reps at first base, a place he may play in a recreation earlier than the spring is over. He acknowledged third base, a spot he had performed one inning at as a professional earlier than this spring, isn’t a place he feels “ultra-confident” at, although he believes he’ll develop snug.
“Ultimately, I’m pretty confident in my ability to adapt,” he mentioned final week.
Offensively, he’s hitting .409 with a 1.114 OPS round lacking time with left shoulder discomfort.
Last yr with the Kansas City Royals, O’Hearn performed sporadically. More than a fifth of his plate look got here as a pinch-hitter, which he referred to as “a thankless job.”
“Not having consistent at-bats, your timing is not what it could be,” O’Hearn mentioned. “You’re not constantly in there hitting, and then when you get a chance to play, it’s usually a big situation against a pitcher that the rest of the league hits .130 off.”
But in these alternatives, O’Hearn hit .367/.406/.567, in contrast with .200/.260/.232 in his rare begins. He may return to that position after Baltimore acquired him in a commerce for money earlier than, as Kansas City did, designating him for project. He mentioned final yr’s expertise taught him the best way to embrace it.
Before tweaking his proper knee, he was among the many Orioles’ high spring performers, hitting .474 with a 1.230 OPS and a good strikeout-to-walk ratio. He acknowledged the timing of his harm is “definitely not great,” although he mentioned the swelling has gone down and he was capable of run pool sprints Thursday.
Cordero’s profession has been outlined by untapped potential. He’s proven this spring what’s attainable when he places all of it collectively.
After Thursday’s three-hit day, Cordero is 14-for-26 this spring, with half of these hits going for further bases. He mentioned Orioles hitting coaches Ryan Fuller and Matt Borgschulte have assisted together with his posture on the plate and on “finding out good ways to attack the ball,” he mentioned by means of group interpreter Brandon Quinones.
Cordero can play first base and the outfield, however how capably he can accomplish that is a query. He had a two-base error in left area Thursday, having a single skip previous him, and was one among baseball’s worst-rated defensive first basemen whereas with the Boston Red Sox in 2022 earlier than signing a minor league cope with Baltimore this offseason.
Díaz’s offseason was an odyssey; he was designated for project 5 instances, together with twice by Baltimore.
After lastly clearing waivers to stay with the Orioles, he’s left an impression this spring. Although he’s maybe the least versatile of the group as strictly a primary baseman, Hyde famous he’s a “special defender” there.
The bat has come round, too, as Díaz had an .875 OPS whereas repeatedly hitting the ball exhausting earlier than being scratched Tuesday with left shoulder discomfort. He mentioned Thursday he anticipated to take batting observe Friday and hoped to be again in video games quickly after.
“I’ve been able to show that I’m capable of being a big league player,” Díaz mentioned by means of Quinones. “I know that I have what it takes to be at the big league level.”
After a 1-for-11 begin, Lester has gone 12-for-20 with 4 extra-base hits. On Tuesday towards the Pittsburgh Pirates, he put 4 balls in play at 102 mph or more durable. His eight balls in play at 100 mph or extra in street video games this spring are three greater than some other Oriole; the Orioles don’t have public Statcast information at Ed Smith Stadium, the place their regulars have performed most of their video games.
“I like to think it’s always kind of been there,” he mentioned. “I’ve been trying to stay on the barrel as much as possible.”
Lester credited Fuller and Borgschulte’s work for serving to him type a plan on how every pitcher will go after him and the best way to use his strengths towards them. He signed with the Orioles as a minor league free agent as a result of they wished him to be versatile, and he’s delivered by enjoying first, third and each outfield corners.
“Wow,” Hyde mentioned, “he’s hitting every ball on the nose.”
Mazara’s single Thursday was his fourth hit of the spring, outcome he welcomed. But his third at-bat was maybe extra emblematic of his camp.
A lineout to first left Mazara at 4-for-26, one other case of how he feels he’s “been hitting the ball better and just right at people.”
“The results haven’t been there, but that doesn’t mean anything,” Mazara mentioned. “I’m working really, really hard. I know what I’m capable to do, and I know I can help this team.”
Unlike the remainder of the NRI candidates, Mazara doesn’t play first base, with the minor league free agent’s enjoying time sure to the outfield, designated hitter or pinch-hit duties.
“Obviously, everybody’s here to help the team, and that’s a good thing,” Mazara mentioned. “That’s a tricky choice on the entrance workplace. They know what they’re in search of, and we’re proficient.
“The competition has been good. And hopefully we can continue to do that moving on.”