Mar 1, 2014; Sarasota, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles second baseman
(3) flips the ball in the second inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during a spring training exhibition game at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit:
-USA TODAY Sports
Who will get the most starts at second base in 2014?
It has been assumed throughout most of the offseason that Ryan Flaherty had earned the frontrunner position as the probable primary starter at second base for the 2014 Orioles. This could prove to be true. And it would be great for the Orioles to retrieve some strong benefits of their time investment in the 2012 Rule 5 pick.
Flaherty has the requisite defensive skills for sure, and his power potential is well beyond the average second baseman. Yet his batting average and OBP have yet to instill confidence.
It would certainly appear that Flaherty will now be starting the earliest games of the season at third base until Machado returns. And this versatility is what makes Flaherty ultimately so valuable for a team.
Lighting up the offence at spring training has been young Jonathan Schoop. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Schoop has great upside potential. A spinal injury delayed his development last year, and his fall league play in Arizona was rather weak. But strength training and the filling out of aging beyond his teenage years has brought Schoop into camp with an entirely new body type … and new offensive production.
Orioles fans everywhere are excited about this and fill message boards with a “play him now” theme. Perhaps Jonathon Schoop can be the second coming of Manny Machado. If that is so, and if Machado comes back as the fellow we remember from 2013, this could indeed be a special team.
My guess is that Schoop will be kept if Machado is unable to open the season. As well, I would expect veteran infielder Alex Gonzalez to remain, as he has had an excellent spring season and seems ready to contribute well.
Jamile Weeks – who came from Oakland in the Jim Johnson deal – has not hit well in camp, though he has shown an attractive ability to run the bases. But with an option remaining, that would appear to be his probable fate.
Neither would there seem to be room for Rule 5 pick Michael Almanzar.