With Opening Day just days away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2017 Orioles every day as they try to return to the postseason for the fourth time in six years.
Hyun Soo Kim
OF Joey Rickard
Opening Day age: 25
Contract status: Under club control through the 2021 season
2016 stats: .268/.319/.377, 5 HR, 19 RBI, 32 R, 4 SB, 282 PA
Why to be impressed: Despite a thumb injury cutting his rookie season short in July, Rickard excelled against left-handed pitching with a .313 average and .861 on-base plus slugging percentage in 90 plate appearances. The Rule 5 pick also offered the station-to-station Orioles some speed by stealing a team-high four bases in five attempts, a skill you’d like to see him use a little more in the future.
Why to be concerned: Rickard sported an impressive .390 on-base percentage in his minor-league career, but his 6.4 percent walk rate was below the league average, a concern in regards to his offensive potential. While Buck Showalter used him at all three outfield spots, Rickard struggled adjusting to three-deck major league stadiums and finished at minus-eight defensive runs saved.
2017 outlook: His 2016 success against lefty pitchers puts Rickard in position to platoon with either Hyun Soo Kim in left field or Seth Smith in right field, and he could even see opportunities to lead off against southpaws. It’s reasonable to expect Rickard to improve defensively, but drawing more walks and improving his defense will be major keys to making him a valuable role player.
Not-so-scientific projections for 2017: .261/.314/.372, 6 HR, 20 RBI, 36 R, 10 SB, 286 PA