Baltimore Orioles: Top 5 Surprises of Spring Training


Fans of the Baltimore Orioles are reminded over and over to not fall in love with spring training statistics. This statement is often followed with a reminder of the incredible home run outburst of catcher Jake Fox a few years ago.

Yet at the same time, if a player (particularly on the fringe) does not put up some numbers and make an impression, he is going to be riding in a bus for the summer around some part of the country and sleeping in a variety of sometimes sketchy hotels.

So who are the Orioles players who are excelling this spring in ways that might not have been fully anticipated?

Let me list five of them:

#1 – Jimmy Paredes

It is not a total revelation that Paredes can hit a baseball. But right now he is hitting at a .423 pace over 15 games with nine RBIs. He has three doubles, a triple and a home run to his credit as well.

Playing for the Orioles seems to agree with Paredes who did a nice job at the end of the season last year, hitting .302 in 18 games. His career average is however at .242, with an OBP of .279 – though it is only in a total of 145 games and 430 at-bats. The 26-year old is a career .289 hitter in the minor leagues.

His defense is reported to have improved over the past offseason, and it would appear that the Orioles are trying to find a way to explore his full flexibility by testing his potential in the outfield.

It still seems to me to be a difficult scenario to keep him, but I honestly also never imagined that Paredes would even be in this conversation or in an article of this topic.

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#2 – Manny Machado

There has never been any doubt about Machado’s top-drawer talent, the only question remaining was about what his knees would allow him to accomplish.

Though it struck me that the offseason angst about if Manny would be ready for the beginning of the season was very much over the top, who really would have thought that he’d be playing right out of the gate as he has this spring?

Machado is making all the amazing plays in the field again. And though he has cooled off in the most recent games after a torrid start, it remains encouraging to see him so healthy and moving so well. He has even stolen a couple bases.

Manny is putting some good swings on the ball and simply looking fine. There is no reason to not expect a very good year … so long as the knees hold up.

#3 – Nolan Reimold

Having been a long-time Reimold apologist, I am not surprised to see him playing well now that his health has truly, really, honestly, finally, for-sure returned. We are again able to see the ball as it explodes off his bat, along with the incredible speed from the batter’s box to first base – among the best in the sport.

Reimold is 6-for-19 this spring with a home run. However, he also has five additional walks for an OBP of .458 – something the Baltimore Orioles desperately need.

Again, as with Paredes, it is difficult to see a scenario develop that would involve Nolan going north in April. But if he can continue to play like this, he is going to be at Camden Yards this year. That would be awesome to see.

#4 – Logan Verrett

This Rule 5 Draftee is doing what a team wants from such a selection by giving every indication that he is worthy of the risk associated with retaining him for the season on the 25-man roster. So far Verrett has pitched nine innings in five games, posting an ERA of 2.00 and WHIP of 1.11, while also registering two saves. He looks good.

His AAA numbers from last year are far from amazing: 11-5 with a 4.33 ERA and WHIP of 1.37 … though we must factor into this that these numbers are from the Pacific Coast League that is known as a huge hitters’ paradise.

It might help a great deal if his former team, the New York Mets, was to trade him as part of a deal for Brian Matusz – another Oriole who has pitched well thus far in Florida. 

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#5 – Henry Urrutia

I am only surprised that Urrutia is doing well in light of the difficult season he endured in 2014, though most of that was due to injury. At the end of 2013, he had proven he could hit well at AA and AAA and in the Arizona Fall League.

Though he had a decent spring last year, he is putting up better numbers this season. So far Urrutia is 8-for-22 with two doubles and a massive home run. He has also walked three times and only struck out twice. His defense is much improved.

Last year Urrutia seemed to be personally crushed when he did not make the team going north, and then the injury soon followed. So it was encouraging to read these remarks in an interview yesterday with Steve Melewski of MASN:

“I know it’s very hard (to make this team). But I feel strong and healthy and good at the plate.  

Last year, I was thinking too much, ‘Make the team, make the team.’ This year, I have a little more experience so when spring training is done, Showalter and the general manager have to make the decision.”

Next: Matt Wieters and Opening Day?