Baltimore Orioles: Players with Uncertain Predictions for 2016

Aug 22, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles left fielder Henry Urrutia (51) hits a RBI single during the second inning against the Minnesota Twins at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 22, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles left fielder Henry Urrutia (51) hits a RBI single during the second inning against the Minnesota Twins at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

Today we turn to a list of Baltimore Orioles players who are difficult to predict their probable 2016 performance for a variety of reasons.

Forrest Gump said, “My momma always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.’”

And that is the way it is with the players we will look at today in this final of four player prediction articles (the others are seen in the list below). In every case today, it is equally imaginable that the player will break through with a great season, or perhaps be overcome by difficulties and factors that inhibit consistent performance and production.

In almost every situation we will list today, it is my hope and expectation that the player will be successful. But I know also that the optimistic “eternal spring” fan inside me is coloring that hopefulness. I hoped and expected players like De Aza and Snider to be a lot better than they were in the past.

Speaking of De Aza, he was the first listed name in this article last February. I wrote, “My guess is that De Aza will hit in the low .270s with a satisfactory OBP as leadoff, especially since there is no other obvious choice. But anything could happen.”   He actually hit .284/.340 ….. with the Red Sox and Giants! With the Orioles it was .214/.277.

Other players listed last year as difficult to predict were Tommy Hunter, Brian Matusz, David Lough, Wesley Wright, J.P. Arencibia and Ryan Webb. They are pretty much all still confusing to predict.

Of the players we will discuss today, the first two — Hyeon-soo Kim and Mark Trumbo — are those whom I feel best about in terms of proving to be productively contributing players for the 2016 Birds.

Hyeon-soo Kim — (Again, I continue to spell it this way so long as the site does so.)  The issue is how he will transition to MLB from the KBO. His numbers there were stellar, where he was the Iron Man of the league. At the same time, he is overweight! Put all of that together and you do have a box of chocolates! Actually, keep the chocolates away from him. I believe his success will be in direct proportion to how much he receives the training and mentoring of Brady Anderson. The word is that he is a very pleasant and likeable guy who is quite competitive, so I expect this to work out well. But, there are no guarantees.

Mark Trumbo — Like many power hitters, including one we know and love dearly, Trumbo has had some highs and lows and up-and-down seasons. His average has varied from .234 to .268, and home runs have ranged from 14 to 34 per year. But he has hit in some spacious ballparks, and Oriole Park should be good to him and for him. If he can log about 140 or more total games played as a DH or position player, a good season would be to hit over .250 and close to 30 home runs.

Vance Worley — Having now pitched five MLB seasons, if you just put together 2011 and 2014, Worley was a combined 19-7 in 43 starts, with an ERA of 2.93.  The other three years were not so great. He simply does not look like a reliever to me. If he is allowed to be the fifth man in the rotation, I believe there is about a 50/50 shot he will prove to be highly effective. If the Orioles make him a reliever, there will be nothing special about him and he will be soon gone.

Joey Rickard — There is a lot to like, and the Orioles like to keep Rule 5 guys. He’ll be with the team unless he is simply god-awful. He has speed and good on-base percentage numbers, along with a decent bat at the AA level (but no real power). Look for him to be an effective backup and specialty player for the Birds in 2016, visibly growing on the job as the season progresses.

Mike Wright — The Orioles rookie started nine games for Baltimore in 2015. Two of them were simply great, whereas the other seven were mediocre at best, or nightmares at worst. But with a 9-1, 2.22 ERA at AAA, it would seem he should be able to make the step. This one could go either way, though you have to think he is eventually going to be a decently effective starter.

More from Baltimore Orioles

Dariel Alvarez and Henry Urrutia — I put these names together because their stories have become so similar, not only in background, but also in their experience in the Orioles’ system. I’ll confess to being more pro-Urrutia than the typical Orioles writer or executive. It’s not like he has stunk up the joint when with the Orioles, hitting .272. Without seeing spring training, I would keep him with Reimold and Rickard and let him play somewhat regularly. I think he would be fine, but I’m not sure the Orioles are going to do that. Alvarez can be a triple-A backup plan.

C.J. Riefenhauser — Since beginning this article in raw form and now publishing it, Riefenhauser has been designated. We do not only not know what kind of chocolate he is, we don’t even know if he is going to be in the box.

Oliver Drake — His AAA numbers in 2015 were quite outstanding to say the least (another illustration of a mostly overlooked player performing well in the O’s system), with a 0.82 ERA, 0.89 WHIP in 44 innings. He performed reasonably well in 13 innings with the Orioles. Drake strikes out quite a few, but also walks too many. I’m not a fan of his mechanics … so, while liking many of the numbers, I can’t ignore some red flags.

Overall — It is good to be counting down to just a couple of weeks until real baseball activity begins to happen in Florida. It can’t come soon enough!