The Baltimore Orioles have decided to call up Cuban outfielder Henry Urrutia from Triple-A Norfolk to start the second half in Texas against the Rangers Friday night.
While there has been no word on what Urrutia’s definitive role will be on the club going forward, it appears the Birds will use his bat to ignite the dreary designated hitter position.
At this point, the Orioles could probably put a pitcher out there and almost do a better job driving in runs or at least making contact as Oriole hitters slated in the DH role this season have batted a preposterous .197 average. You don’t even have to see the other numbers because they rival that of New York Yankees shortstops during the 2013 season.
Given that Urrutia was hitting .365 combined in both Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk — with a .958 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) — it seemed all but certain that the 26-year-old was the next man up to try and contribute offensively.
It also helps that outfielder Nolan Reimold has once again returned to the disabled list, giving Orioles manager Buck Showalter more options in the outfield and designated hitter spots with the Urrutia promotion.
Will he be used in the field? Not that likely due to the fact that Henry isn’t a great defensive outfielder…yet.
However, if he handles left-handed pitching in the big leagues how he handled all pitchers in the minors, Nate McLouth may have another spell option in left field.
I would suggest against that because McLouth’s numbers against lefties haven’t been as diminutive as suggested and the fact that McLouth provides the best baserunning option on the Orioles roster.
Still, the timing of the promotion seems interesting for the club on a few counts.
First, Nate McLouth. We know the kind of locker room guy the 31-year-old is and the fireball personality he brings to each game he participates in. He’s a fan favorite that seems to be underappreciated in his contributions to the Orioles and a guy that isn’t a great player, but is a good player that can run, hit for power occasionally and has exceptional range to make up for his lack of throwing ability. Given that the former Pirate and Brave is only inked up through this year, calling up Urrutia now may mean the Birds get to see him in action in left field to see if Nate is worth keeping around another year. Urrutia is traditionally a right fielder though and we know he isn’t replacing the defense that outfielder Nick Markakis can provide.
Second, the struggling designated hitter spot obviously can take any upgrade at this point, but it will be interesting to see just how much DH Urrutia plays given the fact that Buck will want to give catcher Matt Wieters, outfielder Adam Jones and first baseman Chris Davis some days off in the field. Buck liked the flexbility he had before with the spot, so will this mean more days off for the trio? Less days off? Is Urrutia the permanent fixture? Time will only tell.
Third, the Orioles can really only get better from this move because the offense has been hit or miss as of late… much like the pitching.
My expectations are that Urrutia will provide the Orioles with a contact hitter that can put the ball in play more frequently than their other options at the position in the lineup. Given his fast rise through the minors, expect it to be somewhat like third baseman Manny Machado’s call-up last season… a fast start that tapers off slightly as major league pitchers start to figure him out.
Still, as an Orioles fan, you have to be encouraged seeing the youth movement growing with this winning ballclub that will be vying for a playoff spot come October once again.