Has Michael Ohlman taken a step backwards in his development, or am I looking too much at his stats so far? I expected him to have a big year.
Ohlman has certainly struggled both at and behind the plate. However, I think the issues at the plate will begin to clear up. Check out this brief video of Ohlman from 5/22:
As shown in the video, Ohlman’s swing is nearly identical to the beautiful and productive swing he displayed in Frederick. The hands are quiet, the load is soft and allows for him to produce a swing with minimal noise. His bat speed is solid-average, and certainly not detrimental to catching up with velocity at higher levels. I have always enjoyed his swing, but there may be only average bat-to-ball skills from Ohlman. Essentially, he has a nice swing but does not always make sound contact off the bat. Barreling pitches is a big part of being a productive hitter, and I know a few scouts that have said this multiple times to me. I think the bat is good enough though, and will play at least average at the next levels. I expect Ohlman to turn it around offensively.
– Tucker Blair
With the MiLB all star break around the corner, promotion time is coming. Yaz, Harvey, etc are sure to move on. In order to move up, someone has to move out. Anyone high on your radar to be cut loose at the break?
There are surely a few players that will unfortunately end their careers as an Oriole, as the larger prospects take over the spots. I talked about potential promotions in this piece here, and we should definitely expect to see some soon. There are a few players that could end up getting cut. I wouldn’t say I am high on any of the players, but here are a few noteworthy ones:
Jason Esposito – Former 2nd round selection, has not hit at all with the Orioles. The bat is poor and I highly doubt it ever improves. He could stick around as a bench/utility guy though even if they do call up Drew Dosch and/or Trey Mancini.
Creede Simpson / Joel Hutter – Same thing as Esposito. They could stick around as a bench/utility guy, but it would not shock me to see them cut. Simpson leads the Keys with 6 HR.
Brenden Webb / Michael Burgess / Tucker Nathans – A promotion for Mike Yastrzemski likely means one of the Keys’ outfielders will be cut or moved up. Burgess would make the most sense, as he is 25 and an organization player signed as a MiLB free agent this off-season.
Johnny Ruettiger / Chih-Hsien Chiang – One of these spare outfielders could be cut loose if the Orioles decide to promote Glynn Davis to Bowie. Both have performed poorly, and Ruettiger has stagnated at AA.
Matt Price – He has not pitched well the entire season, and the stuff has been passable at best. The fastball is way too straight and easy to pick up out of his hand.
Mark Blackmar – He has been the swingman/spot starter for Frederick, and could likely be cut loose if the Orioles call up all three of Hunter Harvey, Mitch Horacek and Steven Brault.
There is plenty more that could be potential cuts, but these are the most logical ones. The AA/AAA cuts are too volatile for me to even guess.
– Tucker Blair
Steve Pearce, Nelson Cruz, Manny Machado: Who should bat second?
Ah, lineup construction, the area of much consternation and verbosity for baseball fans. As Keith Law rants about on Twitter on a daily basis, statistically speaking one of your best hitters should bat second. Conventional thought typically has a table setter type that can lay down some bunts and move the lead-off over. Then, slotting your best hitter third. I disagree. There are many reasons, but one the best ones is that a two hole hitter is more likely to come up later in the game with runners on base. You want your best hitters up later in the game in the theoretically higher leverage situations. When Manny was stroking doubles last year, he made sense. But, he has been pretty dreadful at the plate so moving him down was the right move. That leaves Pearce and Cruz, and while we here at Orioles Nation love Steve “SMFP” Pearce, he is a nice bench piece not a two hole hitter. Although, I like Buck thinking outside of his box putting Pearce in left, he is definitely a better fielder than Cruz. If it were up to me, I’d bat Cruz second, Davis third, and Jones fourth. But really, the difference between 2 and 3 is nothing to care about, lineup construction has never been proven to have a great affect on a teams win-loss record. Some theorize that the optimal game lineup can maybe lead to about one more win over the course the season and I don’t think Buck’s current lineup is that far from optimal.
– Alex Conway