2018 wasn’t pretty for the Orioles. They finished with their worst record (47-115) in franchise history. Baltimore finished last in the AL East in each of the last two seasons. Their last World Series appearance came in 1983 when they defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in five games.
Baltimore amassed a huge ERA (5.18) while serving up 234 home runs. No starting pitcher had an ERA under 4.43. The ace of the franchise now lies in the right arm of Dylan Bundy who had more negative starts than elite ones leading to an 8-16 record with a poor ERA (5.45) and 41 balls landing in the seats over 171.2 innings.
The Orioles scored 121 fewer runs than 2017 (743) wile regressing in runs allowed in each of the last four seasons (593, 693, 75, 841, and 892). The lack of wins didn’t help ticket sales. Baltimore only drew 1.5 million fans, which was their lowest draw since 1981.
Their significant loss to the offense came last summer when Baltimore traded SS Manny Machado to the Dodgers. The Orioles also moved on from SP Kevin Gausman last July in a trade with the Braves. They added SS Alcides Escobar and SP Nate Karns.
Baltimore lost C Caleb Joseph, IF Tim Beckham, OF Adam Jones, and OF Colby Rasmus to free agency this offseason. This roster of loaded with holes and the only correction to the team development will be time and players coming through their system.
Orioles fans can expect another long season while hoping to find a couple of young players with upside to help at the ticket gates. The two players closest to helping the major league time looks to be OF Austin Hays and 3B Ryan Mountcastle.
IF Richie Martin and RP Taylor Grover will try to make the team after being selected in this seasons Rule 5 Draft.
Villar posted his career-best walk rate (11.6) in 2016 setting up a great season in combined HRs (19) and SBs (62) leading to a winning piece to a Fantasy team found late in drafts. Even with his success in his best season, he still whiffed over 25 percent of the time. Over the last two seasons, his walk rate (7.5) faded below the league average (8.1) with regression as well in his K rate (28.4). His swing path still leads to a high groundball rate (2017 – 55.9 and career – 56.5), but Jonathan can drive the ball when he gets the ball in the air which is highlighted by his HR/FB rate over the last three seasons (19.6, 19.0, and 17.9). Villar is a switch hitter with similar stats vs. RH (.254 with 37 HRs and 134 RBI over 1,445 at-bats) and LH (.261 with 17 HRs and 61 RBI over 601 at-bats) pitching when considering the difference in playing time. His combination of power and speed is intriguing, but a Fantasy owner has to understand his wide range of outcomes in 2019. Jonathan could hit leadoff or 9th with a reasonable chance of being a part-time utility player if he struggles to make contact out of the gate. His early January ADP is 102 in 15-team leagues with a high of 53 and a low of 152. Impact speed if given 500 at-bats. With a starting job, Villar looks to be a .250 hitter with a 15/35 skill set. His batting average is at the mercy on his ability to make contact, which in turn drives his stolen base total.
Hays sure looked major league ready after blasting his way to majors in 2017 after dominating at High A (.328 with 16 HRs and 41 RBI over 262 at-bats) and AA (.330 with 16 HRs and 54 RBI over 261 at-bats). His K rate (17.5) in the minors is better the major league average while needing to add some more walks to his resume (4.8 percent walk rate). Over 60 at-bats in the majors in September of 2017, Austin struggled to make contact (25.4 percent K rate) leading to a .217 batting average with one HR and eight RBI. In 2018, Hays struggled over the first two months of AA (.224 with six HRs, 18 RBI, and five SBs over 174 at-bats) before landing on the DL with an ankle injury that ended up needing surgery in September. Even with no playing time in his career at AAA, Austin could very well make the opening day for Baltimore out of spring training. His lack of walks does hurt his chance to bat near the top of the lineup early in his career, but the Orioles don’t have anyone blocking him from an excellent opportunity this year. Player to follow in spring training as his bat could come quickly. Future .300 hitter with upside in power and a chance at double-digit speed. Fantasy owners will look to add him in the reserve rounds in the high-stakes market in January and February while expecting his draft value to climb with positive spring training.
Fantasy owners overpaid for Mancini last year leading to a regression in batting average (.222) and RBI (58) even with 93 more at-bats. His approach at the plate (walk rate – 6.9 and K rate – 24.1) fell close enough to his 2017 season (walk rate – 5.6 and K rate – 23.7) where a Fantasy should expect a nice rebound in his overall success this year. Trey had a sharp decline in his CBTA (.292), which tells me that he struggled with his thought process leading to him pressing in the batter box for long stretches especially with runners on base (11 percent RBI rate). His bat had too much weakness against lefties (.225 with five HRs and six RBI over 173 at-bats). Mancini only played well in August (.291 with seven HRs and 20 RBI over 110 at-bats). Over four seasons in the minors, Trey hit .306 with 54 HRs, 275 RBI, and 12 SBs in 1878 at-bats. His bat made a step forward in 2015 between High A and AA when Mancini hit .341 with 21 HRs, 89 RBI, and six SBs over 533 at-bats with follow through at AAA in 2016 (.280 with 13 HRs and 54 RBI over 483 at-bats). When on his game Trey will hit the ball hard with value in batting average and power, but he does have a groundball swing (2017- 51.0 and 2018 – 54.6) in the majors. I’ll set his floor at .280 with 25 HRs and 80 RBI. Any more upside would call for growth in his swing path.
Trumbo started 2018 on the DL with a right knee injury that also ended his season in late August. He has surgery in early September to repair cartilage, which puts him on a track to be ready for the start of spring training. After his great 2016 season (47 HRs and 108 RBI), Mark only has 40 HRs and 109 RBI over his last 889 at-bats. Last year his K rate (24.3) and walk rate (6.7) fell in line with his career averages, but he came up short in his RBI rate (14) for the third time in four seasons. His HR/FB rate (20.0) came in above his career average (18.6) for the fourth time in his career, but Trumbo did have regression his fly ball rate (34.7) in 2018 (39.4 in his career). His AVH (1.733) gives him a chance at 30+ HRs, but I can’t see much over a .250 batting average based on his CTBA over the last five seasons (.322, .320, .354, .320, and .354). Look for Mark to be drafted somewhere between round 20 and round 24 in 15-team leagues in the high-stakes market. A low average power hitter with negative value in steals and minimal upside in runs.
After playing well in 2015 (.262 with 100 runs, 47 HRs, and 117 RBI), Davis regressed in each of his next three seasons leading to a poor batting average (.202) with 80 HRs and 194 RBI over 1,492 at-bats. Over this span, he struck out 606 times (35.4 percent of the time) while seeing his walk rate fade in 2017 (11.6) and 2018 (7.9). For a middle of the order hitter, his RBI rate has been disgustingly low over the last two years (11.7 and 11.9 percent). In 2018, his CTBA (.284) fell well below his best seasons (2012 – .402, 2013 – .434, and 2015 – .411) in the majors, which to a career-low batting average (.168) last season. His failure came vs. both RH (.178 with 11 HRs and 34 RBI over 338 at-bats) and LH (.144 with five HRs and 15 RBI over 132 at-bats) pitching. Baltimore owes him well over 100 million dollars over the next four years. His HR/FB rate (14.5) came in well below his previous six years with the Orioles (25.2, 29.6, 22.6, 29.4, 25.0, and 24.8). Forty home run swing with lost confidence at the plate. With a winter to clear his head, a Fantasy owner can find him gifted wrapped in the free agent pool in most drafts. Worth s stash if your team is structured to handle low average batting average.
Nunez has plenty of experience at AAA in his minor league career (.249 with 60 HRs and 182 RBI over 1,207 at-bats) while doing a decent job in his first shot in the majors in 2018 (.275 over 200 at-bats with seven HRs and 20 RBI). Both his K rate (23.8) and walk rate (7.3) rank below the major league average while needing to prove himself with runners on base. His success in the majors came in 2014 at High A (.279 with 29 HRs and 96 RBI over 509 at-bats) and 2017 at AAA (.249 with 32 HRs and 78 RBI over 473 at-bats). A low average power hitter with a questionable opportunity. I view him as only a placeholder for Ryan Mountcastle with a chance to offer some streaky stats.
Sisco failed to make an impact at the major league last year, which led to a couple of trips back to AAA with no sign of upside. Over six years in the minors, Chance hit .306 with 28 HRs, 218 RBI, and 14 SBs over 1,763 at-bats. His walk rate (10.4) is in a strong area with a favorable strikeout rate (18.8). He won’t offer an edge on the defensive side of the ball so a five day a week job in the majors may be asking too much early in his career. Line drive type hitter with minimal upside in power. Possible flier as a back-end catcher in deep leagues with a chance at double-digit power. His batting average should be an asset with 50+ runs and 50+ RBI well within reach if given 400+ at-bats.
I’m sure Baltimore will add a major league bat to start at 2B or shortstop before the start of the season. For now, I’ll give Valera a chance to see starting at-bats in April due to his ability to make contact (7.4 percent K rate). Over nine years in the minors, Breyvic hit .299 with 23 HRs, 343 RBI, and 95 SBs over 3,659 at-bats. He showed more power (17 HRs) over the last three seasons at AAA where he hit .301 with 111 RBI and 26 SBs over 982 at-bats. Valera looks to be undraftable with no real upside in power or speed while his opportunity for playing time is a huge question mark.
In his first experience in the majors last year, Stewart did a nice job. He hit .250 over 40 at-bats with three HRs, ten RBI, and two SBs. D.J. is a former first-round draft pick (2015) with a balanced skill set. Over four seasons in the minors, he hit .250 with 49 HRs, 213 RBI, and 61 SBs over 1,530 at-bats. His success over a full season of at-bats in the majors projects him as 20/20 type hitter with some batting average risk. His K rate (19.2) is above the league average with strength in his walk rate (12.2). With 116 games under his belts at AAA (.235 with 12 HRs, 55 RBI, and 11 SBs over 421 at-bats), Stewart looks poised to get a nice shot at every day playing time in the majors in 2019. His approach is strong enough to give him a top of an order opportunity if he’s swing the bat well. At age 25, D.J. doesn’t fall into the elite prospect category while being pinned more as a corner outfielder. Austin Hays may be his biggest threat for playing time unless the leftfield or DH job allows for more at-bats.
Over 613 at-bats between AA and the majors in 2018, Mullins hits 16 HRs with 58 RBI and 23 SBs to draw an intriguing mark by Fantasy owners in 2019. Both his K rate (19.4) and walk rate (8.9) came in better than the major league average. Over four seasons in the minors, Cedric hit .274 with 41 HRs, 171 RBI, and 77 SBs over 1,701 at-bats. At AAA last year, he hit .313 over 201 at-bats with six HRs, 28 RBI, and nine SBs. His CTBA (2016 – 1.702 and 2017 – 1.732) in the minors suggests more upside in power while his stature (5’8” and 175 lbs.) points to more extra-base hits created by his legs. A viable option in center for Baltimore with a chance at a 15/25 skill set. His batting average will only be neutral until he hits the ball harder while raising his contact batting average. Mullins should start the year as the leadoff hitter if he plays well in spring training.
Mountcastle started 2018 with a broken right hand suffered in mid-March. In 102 games at AA, Ryan hit .297 with 13 HRs, 59 RBI, and two SBs over 394 at-bats. Over four seasons in the minors, he hit .289 with 45 HRs, 191 RBI, and 25 SBs over 1,558 at bats. His walk rate (4.6) is short with a K rate (18.9) that ranks slightly better than league average. The Orioles need a replacement for Manny Machado on the major league roster, and Mountcastle is the bat almost ready to fill that void. His power should come quickly while his batting average should be an asset out of the gate. With further development in his approach, Ryan should develop into a foundation corner infield bat. Possible June call-up while being a nice stash player in AL-only leagues.
Austin Wynns (C) – Austin finally made it to the majors at age 27 in 2018. Over 42 games with Baltimore, he hit .255 with four HRs and 11 RBI over 110 at-bats. Over six seasons in the minors, Wynns hit .266 with 24 HRs, 185 RBI, and five SBs over 1,584 at-bats. His most success came in 2017 at AA over 370 at-bats (.281 with ten HRs and 46 RBI). Only a weak C2 option in deep leagues while having to chance to surprise over a short window in power.
Richie Martin (SS) – Richie will have an inside track to earn a bench role for the Orioles after being selected in this year’s Rule 5 Draft. His bat made a step forward with the A’s at AA in 2018 (.300 with six HRs, 42 RBI, and 25 SBs over 453 at-bats. Over four seasons in the minors, Martin hit .257 with 15 HRs, 129 RBI, and 59 SBs over 1,368 at-bats.
Anthony Santander (OF) – Santander has been on the slow path to the majors. Over seven years in the minors, he’s spent five of those years at A ball (.241 with 16 HRs and 83 RBI on 630 at-bats) and High A (.291 with 20 HRs and 95 RBI over 505 at-bats). Most of his at-bats a High A came in 2016 (.290 with 20 HRs and 95 RBI). In 2017, Anthony missed most of the year with a right elbow injury. Last year he .249 over 281 at-bats between Low A and AAA with eight HRs, 34 RBI, and six SBs. Santander has a lot to prove before being a viable major league option.
Joey Rickard (OF) – Joey has yet to work his way into a full season regular in the majors. Over 731 at-bats in three seasons with Baltimore, Rickard hit .252 with 17 HRs, 61 RBI, and 16 SBs. He’s a .280 in the minors over 1,294 at bats with 219 runs, 14 HRs, 153 RBI, and SBs. Last year Joey had a short walk rate (5.3) with a slide in his K rate (23.9). Line drive hitter with minimal upside in power while owning 30+ SBs. Backup outfield option with a minimal chance of keeping a starting job long term.
Bundy led the American League in losses (16) and home runs allowed (41) in 2018. His disaster downside led to a considerable regression batting average against (.274) leading to a sharp decline in his ERA (5.54) and WHIP (1.410). His K rate (9.6) came in at a career-high level with a respectable walk rate (2.8). Dylan didn’t have an out pitch against lefties (.319 BA) with weakness in his SLG (.553) against them. His resume in 2018 vs. righties (.230 BA with 116 Ks over 370 plate appearances) offered upside other than his 24 HRs allowed over 342 at-bats. He looked sharp over his first five starts of the year (1.42 ERA over 31.2 innings with 40 Ks), but Bundy allowed five runs or more in ten of his last 26 starts. Over the previous two seasons, Dylan pitched up in the strike zone leading a high fly ball rate (2017 – 47.2 and 2018 – 46.0), which wasn’t helped by a massive HR/FB rate (17.8) last year. His average fastball (91.6) continues to fade. His slider remains elite (.178 BAA) while still trying to find his location in the strike zone with his four-seamer (.302 BAA), changeup (.361 BAA), and curveball (.419 BAA). Lots of work to do here while pitching in a division with a couple of potent offenses. There’s talent here, but the negatives outweigh the positives at this point of his career. Ten wins and 175 Ks with an ERA around 4.00 would be a move in the right direction. Only a short-term flier in 2019.
After signing late in spring training with the Orioles, Cobb was able to make 28 starts while posting the worst season of his career. Over 115 starts for Tampa, Alex had a 3.50 ERA and 570 Ks over 700 innings. Last year his ERA plummeted to 4.90 with continued fade in his K rate (6.0). In 2013 and 2014, when Cobb had an ERA under 3.00 in both season, he struck out 8.2 batters per nine innings. Last year his AFB (92.0) was career high, but his slider (.287 BAA) and curveball (.369 BAA) lost value. Alex went 2-12 before the All-Star break with a 6.41 ERA and 63 Ks over 92.2 innings before regaining some of his previous form over the second half of the year (3-3 with a 2.56 ERA and 39 Ks over 59.2 innings). A risky soft tosser who pitches for a weak team, which makes him an easy avoid.
Over his last three seasons, Cashner went 20-37 with a 4.58 ERA and 297 Ks over 451.2 innings. His walk rate (3.8) invites disaster downside especially when paired with his short K rate (5.8). Over 14 starts from May 4th through July 27th, Andrew went 5-9 with a 4.14 ERA with 53 Ks over 78.1 innings. He struggled against both righties (.304 BAA) and lefties (.278 BAA) with a fading fastball (92.4). Both his cutter (.227 BAA) and changeup (.244 BAA) grade well while batters have too much success vs. his four-seamer (.288 BAA), sinker (.330 BAA), and (.312 BAA). With no command, Cashner will struggle to pitch deep in games. When adding his low K rate and WHIP risk, he’s another player to leave off your 2019 draft sheet.
Before 2017 in the minors, Ortiz went 11-10 with a 2.52 ERA with 143 Ks over 161 innings. He made 14 starts at AA in 2016 (3.29 ERA with 50 Ks over 63 innings), which should have pushed him to AAA in 2017. The Brewers decided that Luis needed to repeat AA leading to a step back in his progress (4-7 with a 4.01 ERA and 79 Ks over 94.1 innings). Ortiz missed some development time in 2017 due to a hamstring issue. Last season he went 5-5 at AA and AAA with a 3.70 ERA and 86 Ks over 99.2 innings. His walk rate (2.6) is a plus while offering minimal upside in Ks at this point of his career. Luis throws a mid-90s fastball and slider with high upside. His changeup has a chance to provide an edge down the road. He tends to be a soft player while lacking motivation. Just an arm to follow this spring with Ortiz needing a step up in his game to add value in the Orioles’ starting rotation.
Over four seasons in the minors, Rogers went 30-20 with a 3.07 ERA and 312 Ks over 381.0 innings. Josh brings excellent command (1.8 walk rate), but his K rate (7.4) comes in below the major league average. Over three starts in the majors, Josh allowed 11 runs and 22 baserunners over 11.2 innings with six Ks. His AFB (89.5) is well below the major league average featuring a slider with upside followed by a curveball and changeup. The starting pitching pool in Baltimore lacks depth giving Rogers a chance to win a starting job out of spring training. Only an inning eater who needs plenty of seasoning to be considered as a viable starter in the Fantasy games.
Ramirez struggled at the major league level (5.92 ERA) in his rookie season while offering a low 90s fastball. His changeup has a chance to be a plus pitch while his slider remains a work in progress. Over seven seasons in the minors, Yefry has a 38-31 record with a 3.50 ERA and 527 Ks over 542 innings. His best success came in 2017 at AA (15-3 with a 3.47 ERA and 117 Ks over 124.1 innings). At age 25, Ramirez isn’t an elite prospect while needing growth in his game to offer value in the majors.
With the Orioles’ starting rotation full of disaster options headed into 2019, Harvey has the talent to push way to the majors. His career has been full of injuries (TJ surgery in 2016). Last year his season ended in early June due to a right shoulder issue, which was the season for a poor start to the year (5.57 ERA). Hunter is a former first-round draft pick with a plus fastball and upside curveball when healthy. Over 176.2 innings in five seasons in the minors, Harvey went 8-10 with a 3.11 ERA and 217 Ks. Real short resume, but his pedigree gives him ace upside if he ever defeats his durability issues. Harvey hasn’t pitched over 33 innings in a season since 2014.
Givens pitched great over his first three seasons in the majors (18-3 with a 2.75 ERA and 222 Ks over 183.1 innings) while showing closer upside with his improved command in 2017 (walk rate – 2.9 and K rate – 10.1). Last year Mychal struggled with his walk rate (3.5) with a disaster June (0-5 with 7.04 ERA and 1.891 WHIP). Over the last two months of the season as the closer for Baltimore, Givens remains his previous form (2.25 ERA with 21 Ks and eight SVs over 24 innings). He offers a mid 90s fastball that is tough to hit (.217 BAA) supported by a plus slider (.177 BAA). In his career, Mychal has been a better arm against righties (.187 – .252 vs. LH batters). Decent backend closer who will have limited upside in saves, but his skill set should help in three other Roto categories.
Over four seasons in the minors, Cody has a 2.73 ERA with 22 saves and 263 Ks over 230.2 innings. His K rate (10.3) is an asset while still needing improvement in his walk rate (4.2). His lack of command led to a poor start to his career with the Orioles (17 runs and 34 baserunners over 17 innings) while serving up six home runs. His fastball can reach the upper 90s with relying on a slider and show me split-finger pitch. Tough to believe in him as a closing option, but he may develop into a viable setup man in 2019.
Despite a slow path through the minors, Araujo went 26-9 with a 2.63 ERA, 16 SVs, and 394 Ks over 341.2 innings over seven seasons. Both his walk rate (2.8) and K rate (10.4) came in favorable areas. After a rough start over his first three major league games (five runs and six baserunners over 3.1 innings with five Ks), Pedro flashed in his next eight games (2.51 ERA and 17 Ks over 14.1 innings). Unfortunately, a bum right elbow led to poor results over his last nine games (13.06 ERA) while allowing six HRs over 10.1 innings. His fastball sits about league average while depending on upside changeup and a slider that still needs work. Risk/reward type of arm that has closing experience.