4 Players Turning Heads Early at Orioles Spring Training
Spring training exhibition games aren't even a week old yet, and already the Baltimore Orioles have some players who are making an impression.
The O's have a good number of players who are battling for just one or two roster spots, and so far, those players have been making manager Buck Showalter's job difficult.
Of course, it's still early in spring training, so anything can happen. Guys can slow down and become less impressive as spring continues. Not to mention that spring training numbers can sometimes mean nothing for regular-season performance.
However, if the following guys continue to play as well as they have been this spring, Showalter and his staff are going to have some very tough decisions to make when the team heads to Baltimore for Opening Day. And that's a great problem to have.
Delmon Young, DH/Outfielder
Delmon Young has looked good so far this spring.
After a home run in an intrasquad game that nearly took down a television platform, he knocked a pair of hits in Sunday's game against the Boston Red Sox. The righty is now batting .333 this spring.
While batting averages don't mean much this time of year, it's nice to see Young having some success. Young is competing for a spot on the roster as a backup DH and corner outfielder, and his ability to hit left-handed pitching (career .303 average and .341 OBP) makes a strong case for his inclusion on the Opening Day roster.
If the O's do take Young up north with them, he could serve as the DH against lefties with Nelson Cruz vacating that spot for left field. As David Lough will presumably be the primary left fielder, he'd be forced to ride the bench on days that a left-handed pitcher starts. The team's defense would take a hit, but its lineup would be stacked.
With Young signed to a minor league deal, the team has some flexibility when it comes to what it can do with him. But with a good spring, he may force the Orioles' hand with the appeal of having both him and Cruz in a lineup against left-handed starters.
Francisco Peguero, Outfielder
Claimed off waivers from the San Francisco Giants, Francisco Peguero is out of options and looking to make the O's roster as a backup outfielder.
He's certainly doing his part, batting .267 in 15 at-bats while smacking a triple and tallying up three RBI. He's also played strong defense in the corner outfield spots.
The problem is that with Young, Nolan Reimold and Steve Pearce all battling for backup outfielder/DH jobs and Lough's ability to play all three outfield spots, the O's just simply may not have room, or a need, for Peguero on the major league roster.
Peguero is in a tricky situation. He has a defensive advantage over Young, Reimold and Pearce, but may not have an offensive advantage—and with Lough on the roster, the team could just simply not have a need for Peguero.
However, a good spring can change minds.
David Lough, Outfielder
The O's dealt right-handed DH and corner infielder Danny Valencia to the Kansas City Royals earlier this offseason for lefty-batting David Lough, a scrappy outfielder who had a solid rookie season in 2013 with a .286 average, five homers, 33 RBI and five stolen bases in 96 games.
Lough just turned 28 in January, so he should be entering the prime seasons of his career. With some speed and a good glove, the O's hope that Lough can replace Nate McLouth on their roster, and then some.
Lough has come out of the gate strongly this spring, totaling seven at-bats in three games. He's managed four hits, one triple, one stolen base and one walk in those three games.
If Lough can be a spark plug for the O's, then the team's offense will be that much better. He could provide a boost at the bottom of the lineup or even work his way to the leadoff spot, providing more depth for the O's lineup.
Birdland should be excited to see what Lough can do in regular-season action.
Jonathan Schoop, Second Baseman
Prospect Jonathan Schoop has started spring training by making an interesting case to be the Opening Day second baseman for the team.
After showing up to spring training noticeably bigger and more filled out, in a good way, Schoop has been raking. He homered in both of the O's intrasquad games, and during spring exhibition games, he's gone 4-for 8 with two doubles and three RBI.
Many fans, including myself, assumed Schoop would start the year at Triple-A Norfolk, but that may not be the case if he keeps this up. Schoop could play his way onto the roster when spring camp breaks, which would surely excite the fanbase and energize the team much the way Manny Machado's call-up did in August 2012.
So far, Schoop has been the most interesting player at O's camp, and for good reason. O's fans can't wait to see what happens in regard to him playing his way onto the O's Opening Day roster.