Baltimore Orioles: Is Jimmy Paredes the Real Thing?


Mar 28, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees catcher John Ryan Murphy (66) watches as Baltimore Orioles third baseman Jimmy Paredes (R) hits a home run to start the ninth of a spring training baseball game at George M. Steinbrenner Field. The Orioles won 10-2. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Every year in spring training for the Baltimore Orioles there seems to be a player who hits surprisingly well and becomes a seasonal storyline. This year it is Jimmy Paredes – the 26-year-old 2B/3B/OF who was secured from the Royals in the midst of last season.

As of this moment, with another pair of doubles on Sunday, Paredes is hitting .383 on 18-for-47 with six doubles, a triple, two homers and 12 RBIs. What is not to like about that? Why would he not automatically be on the Orioles’ roster heading north?

Let me tell you a story that leads to an operative quote:

Since 1994 I have been the pastor of a church in Hagerstown, Maryland (yes, that’s a bit different for a sportswriter, I admit). There is a low-A minor league team in the city that was, at that time, a franchise of the Blue Jays.

On the 1994 team was a 22-year-old infielder from central Pennsylvania, and when his family was in town to see him play on weekends, they would attend my church. I got to know them and the young man. Though he was a low-round draftee, he smoked the ball that year; but he was often moved around and given lesser chances to excel than a couple of high-round choices who were playing poorly.

I would take him to lunch some days to encourage him, and noting this pattern he summed it up by saying, “The low-round draftees like me have to prove over and over that we can do it, whereas the high-round bonus babies have to prove that they can’t.”

That is sort of the situation that Paredes faces. The veteran players with longer track records have to prove that they can’t do it any more, whereas he has to prove – almost flawlessly and continuously – that he can and that this spring is the real him and not a flash in the pan.

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So the question is if there is enough evidence from history to add to this spring training to support the notion that he has “arrived.”

Paredes’ career batting average over four MLB seasons is .242, although the total number of games and plate appearances combined do not add up to even a full season.

His AAA numbers are very good. Over a total of 307 games at that level he carries a .300 average. That is worthy of some positive credit.

Paredes also hit .302 in 18 games with the Orioles at the end of last season. So that is worth a bit of credit as well. Maybe there is something about Baltimore that makes it a charm city for him.

Maybe Paredes is just one of those guys who hits the ball hard in spring training? Not so. His previous three springs have featured simply horrible stats – a combined 12-for-76 with no extra base hits and two RBIs.

Could the difference be that this past winter was the first year that he did NOT play in the Dominican League? The last time he played he hit .192 on a team where our old friend Wilson Betemit hit .267.  The year before he hit .234 on the same team that our other old friend Alexi Casilla hit .289.  However, it is true that on this same team in 2012, Nelson Cruz had one home run in 48 plate appearances; Paredes hit three in 118. (The HR leader for that team was Marcell Ozuna with nine – you know him, right? He is a career minor leaguer with the Marlins, yet he can say he out-slugged Nelson Cruz.)  All to say – winter ball doesn’t mean much.

So, what do we make of this Jimmy Paredes? It has been a great spring. Looking at his historic game logs such as when playing on a daily basis in AAA, he is at times subject to both hot and cold streaks, though not in a way that I would say is extraordinary.

This spring certainly goes down in the strong credit category. I’m afraid that, again, players who have better records of success historically at the big-league level still have the edge on him. For example, Nolan Reimold or Alejandro De Aza. And there is the issue as well as to where to play Paredes, especially since the Birds have a marginal defensive player who will most often serve in a DH role in Delmon Young.

By this time next week we will know more as to what will transpire.

Next: Young Orioles players have big days in the spotlight

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