Orioles spring training preview: 40 for 40

February 10, 2014 | Luke Jones

Orioles spring training preview: 40 for 40

CATCHERS (4)

Steve Clevenger
Opening Day age: 27
Options remaining: two
Musing: The Mount. St. Joseph’s product is regarded by most as the early favorite to win the backup job, but he needs to show more of the .311 career average he sports in the minors at the next level to give Showalter confidence to sit down Matt Wieters more often.

Johnny Monnell
Opening Day age: 28
Options remaining: three
Musing: Acquired from San Francisco for cash considerations, Monell has just nine career major league at-bats and his defense behind the plate is questionable, meaning he’ll have to do more with the bat to give himself a good chance to beat out Clevenger.

Michael Ohlman
Opening Day age: 23
Options remaining: three
Musing: After hitting .313 with 13 home runs for Single-A Frederick last season, Ohlman was placed on the 40-man roster and seemingly on the organization’s radar as an offensive-minded catcher who must continue to improve defensively as he climbs up the ladder.

Matt Wieters
Opening Day age: 27
Options remaining: three
Musing: Many dwell on the All-Star catcher’s scheduled free agency following the 2015 season, but Wieters’ OPS has declined in each of the last two seasons while the number of games he’s caught has increased, something that must be adjusted to maximize his offensive value.

INFIELDERS (7)

3B Michael Almanzar
Opening Day age: 23
Options remaining: Rule 5 pick (three)
Musing: Manny Machado’s recovery from knee surgery could create a spot for the Rule 5 pick on the 25-man roster, but his lack of versatility makes it a tough sell for the Orioles to stash him on the bench all season despite keeping a Rule 5 player in each of the last two years.

1B Chris Davis
Opening Day age: 28
Options remaining: none
Musing: Long-term negotiations haven’t gone anywhere this winter and if Davis even approaches his 2013 numbers this season, the Orioles will have no choice but to hand over the richest contract in franchise history — by far — to keep him beyond the 2015 season.

2B Ryan Flaherty
Opening Day age: 27
Options remaining: three
Musing: The favorite to start at second base should he not be needed to replace Machado early on, Flaherty played good defense at second base last year and hit a respectable .276 from May 29 until the end of the year after a 12-for-90 start that temporarily landed him in the minors.

SS J.J. Hardy
Opening Day age: 31
Options remaining: player permission only
Musing: The two-time Gold Glove winner provides power at a premium spot, so it will be interesting to see if the Orioles can extend him on a reasonable deal — shortstops generally don’t age well — like they did in 2011 when he inked a three-year, $22.25 million contract extension.

3B Manny Machado
Opening Day age: 21
Options remaining: three
Musing: All signs point to him being on schedule to have a chance to be ready for Opening Day, but it will be very interesting to see how Machado fares without a normal winter to work as he still needs to develop better plate discipline (only 29 walks in 710 plate appearances) to accompany his amazing talents.

2B Jonathan Schoop
Opening Day age: 22
Options remaining: two
Musing: A back injury in 2013 likely robbed Schoop of any real chance to win the second base job this spring, but the future is still bright for the Curacao native, who projects to have an above-average bat at a position where impact offense is rare.

2B Jemile Weeks
Opening Day age: 27
Options remaining: two
Musing: The 2008 first-round pick of the Oakland Athletics was the main piece acquired in the unpopular Jim Johnson trade and has hit just .258 in 957 major league plate appearances while playing shaky defense, making it a difficult — but not impossible — battle for him to win the second base job.

OUTFIELDERS (7)

CF Adam Jones
Opening Day age: 28
Options remaining: player permission only
Musing: It’s remarkable that Jones puts up the numbers he does with so little plate discipline (25 walks in 689 plate appearances in 2013), but the three-time All-Star selection isn’t changing his approach at this point in his career and is still one of the best center fielders in the American League.

LF David Lough
Opening Day age: 28
Options remaining: none
Musing: Acquired from Kansas City in exchange for Danny Valencia, Lough appears to be a younger and cheaper version of Nate McLouth who will offer better defense, but the Orioles hope he continues to hit lefties as well as he did last year to potentially make him an everyday player.

RF Nick Markakis
Opening Day age: 30
Options remaining: player permission only
Musing: Entering the final season of a six-year, $66.1 million contract that includes a $17.5 million team option for next year, Markakis could easily be playing his final season in Baltimore if he doesn’t bounce back dramatically from a 2013 campaign in which he posted a .685 OPS.

LF/DH Steve Pearce
Opening Day age: 30
Options remaining: none
Musing: After the Orioles signed Delmon Young to a minor-league deal, Pearce has to be feeling the heat over his roster spot as he specializes in hitting left-handed pitching, meaning he’ll need another strong spring to make the 25-man roster.

LF Francisco Peguero
Opening Day age: 25
Options remaining: none
Musing: Once considered a top prospect in the San Francisco Giants system, Peguero is 9-for-45 in his major league career and has yet to put it together at the next level despite a .306 career average in eight minor league seasons.

LF/DH Nolan Reimold
Opening Day age: 30
Options remaining: none
Musing: After two spinal fusion surgeries in less than two years, Reimold received a final chance by way of a one-year contract, but expecting the once-promising prospect to stay healthy, let alone put up respectable numbers is wishful thinking at this stage of his career.

LF/DH Henry Urrutia
Opening Day age: 27
Options remaining: three
Musing: Many have been too quick to write off the Cuban outfielder after 58 major league at-bats, but the Orioles hope that nearly 20 pounds of weight added over the winter will translate to more power than the one extra-base hit he collected in his rookie season.

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