Final Thoughts on the Orioles Opening Day Roster

Above is the final roster for Opening Day

The Baltimore Orioles have finalized their 26-man roster. Perhaps the biggest surprise to come out of the roster developments this offseason was the news that Grayson Rodriguez will not be making the Opening Day Roster. Rodriguez, who many had penciled in as the fourth or fifth pitcher in the Orioles’ rotation, will begin the year in AAA Norfolk.

The announcement of his demotion was met with profound disappointment among O’s fans who have long fantasized about his debut with the major league club. Accusations of service time manipulation were met with pushback from general manager Mike Elias, “He just didn’t have a good start this Spring and didn’t get out of the fourth inning.” Elias’ concerns are not unfounded – Rodriguez had an ERA of 7.05 over 15.1 innings of work. However, a poor Spring Training performance by no means always equates to poor performance during the regular season.

With RHP Mychal Givens, C James McCann, LHP John Means, and RHP Dillon Tate all headed to the IL, the O’s had some holes to fill in the last few days of the offseason. To combat their rapidly disintegrating bullpen depth, the O’s traded for LHP Danny Coulombe. For more about Coulombe and the bullpen click this link. To fill the role of backup catcher in McCann’s absence, the Orioles selected the contract of Anthony Bemboom.

Outfielder Ryan Mckenna made the roster, signaling that the Orioles are comfortable with any combination of Terrin Vavra, Anthony Santander, James McCann, and Adley Rutschman backing up 1B throughout the year. The position was one of contention throughout Spring Training with players like Ryan O’Hearn, Franchy Cordero, and Lewin Diaz all competing for the spot.

Additionally, O’s fans will need to wait to see many of the other highly touted prospects who are waiting in the wings of AAA. OF Colton Cowser was impressive in the Minors this year, and was invited to Major League camp this Spring. In 46 plate appearances, Cowser managed to hit three home runs, and slashed .212/.435/.485. However, the 23-year-old Cowser couldn’t break into the Orioles’ outfield of Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins, and Anthony Santander quite yet. 

Another prospect who could’ve made the roster is Jordan Westburg. Westburg was extremely impressive during Spring Training, slashing .306/.368/.510 in 57 PAs.  The 24-year-old Westburg is the unfortunate victim of a crowded Orioles infield. Gold glove winner Ramon Urias, free agency acquisition Adam Frazier, and SS Jorge Mateo are all obstacles currently blocking Westburg from making his Major League debut. However, given the talent that the O’s possess, it has been speculated that the front office may be willing to part with some of their infielders in a trade.

LHP DL Hall will also be in Norfolk for the time being. The O’s front office is adamant that Hall stays a starter, and he will get that opportunity to be built up as such with the Tides.

Other prospects that could make their debut this season include SS Joey Ortiz and INF Connor Norby. Ortiz has long been touted as a defensive specialist, and showed some flashes at the beginning of Spring Training. Connor Norby, a 2021 second round draft pick out of East Carolina, is an excellent power hitter who would benefit greatly from the Orioles trading away some infield depth.

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Tatiana Bird

I love talking, writing, and arguing about the O's. Follow me on twitter @TheNotoriousTGB

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