Five Orioles ready to step forward in 2013

Five Orioles ready to step forward in 2013
October 28, 2012, 2:15 pm
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Two weeks into the off-season, the Orioles are beginning to make plans for their winter training. Some will stay in Baltimore, a few work out in Sarasota, Fla. Others will play winter ball.

Here are five Orioles, who could make a big step forward in 2013

1) Manny Machado

Machado was much better than expected in 2012. Most observers were surprised Machado stayed in Double-A as long as he did. They were expecting a promotion from Bowie to Norfolk. Instead he got a call to Baltimore and outperformed everyone’s expectations.

He was terrific at third base, a position he’d hardly played before and his offense was strong, too.

Machado has things to work on. He struck out more than four times as often has he walked. He tied for the team lead in triples with three, but stole only two bases.

Look for a huge first complete season from Machado in 2013.

2) Dylan Bundy

It was a surprise that both Machado and Bundy spent any time at all with the Orioles in 2012. It will be a surprise if Bundy starts the season in Baltimore, but he should be there by June.

He needs to work on his control. “Four walks in Bowie are more walks up here,” manager Buck Showalter noted in late August.

Bundy should be a dynamic addition to the rotation, which is still lacking a No. 1 starter.

3) Brian Matusz

After all he’s been through, Matusz is still under 25. After two seasons of unsuccessful starting, Matusz quickly turned into a most effective left-handed reliever.

It’s not often that the fourth overall pick is converted to a left-handed specialist this early in his career. However, Matusz seemed uncomfortable starting and very comfortable relieving.

The Orioles say he’ll get a chance to start next spring training, but they seem to have plenty of starters and few alternatives to him as a lefty specialist.

4) Steve Johnson

Buck Showalter seemed reluctant to use Johnson, but he came through when called upon. Johnson was 4-0 with a 2.11 ERA in 12 games, four of them starts.

He was used sparingly and not on the roster for the Division Series. Johnson could fit in the bullpen or as a starter, but he has lots of competition for starting.

5) Zach Britton

Britton was another pitcher Showalter seemed reluctant to use late in the season. He was the Orioles’ biggest winner in 2011, but won only five in 2012. If he’s healthier in 2013, he should have a better shot at getting a spot.

He probably has a lot of trade value, but look for him to go to spring training with the Orioles.

HONORABLE MENTION

L.J. Hoes

The young outfielder hasn’t yet gotten a real shot at the major leagues. He’s got speed and some pop. If there are outfield injuries in 2013, Hoes should get a shot.

Ryan Flaherty

Flaherty needs to work on his defense and learn how to take a walk. Showalter predicted last season Flaherty would be a regular in the major leagues in 2013. There’s an opening at second base.