In the past 10 days, the Orioles have signed Alfredo Aceves, Alexi Casilla and Delmon Young to minor league contracts. It would hardly be a surprise if all three make the Orioles’ opening day lineup.
Aceves, Casilla and Young all have extensive major league experience, and last year, Casilla spent the entire year with the Orioles.
In the last four seasons, at least one player who wasn’t on the 40-man roster made the Orioles’ Opening Day roster.
In 2010, it was pitcher Will Ohman. In manager Buck Showalter’s first spring training, pitcher Josh Rupe came along. In 2012, catcher Ronny Paulino and first baseman Nick Johnson were picked, and last year, it was outfielder Steve Pearce.
Showalter has a lot of players in the mix who are have minor league contracts. Many have major league experience including infielders Ivan De Jesus, Jr, Cord Phelps, first baseman Chris Marrero and outfielders Julio Borbon, Quintin Berry and Xavier Paul.
Others who have minor league contracts don’t have major league experience. Pitcher Eddie Gamboa, who was briefly on the 40-man roster fits into that category. Gamboa is a knuckleballer, who threw a no-hitter for Bowie last year.
Another is Fabio Castillo, who was signed concurrently with De Jesus, Marrero and Paul. At 24, Castillo already has eight years of minor league experience with Texas and San Francisco.
Showalter will want longer looks at Eduardo Rodriguez and Mike Wright this year. Rodriguez was briefly invited last year and quickly returned to minor league camp. He’s likely to stay a lot longer this year.
The left-hander will probably start the season at Bowie, but it’s not inconceivable that if he performs well, he’ll get a late season call to Baltimore.
Wright was there last year, and was given a chance to pitch in a game against the Yankees in 2012 after Alfredo Simon was hurt.
He’ll probably begin the year in Norfolk, and Wright could also get some work with the Orioles this season.
Neither Rodriguez or Wright has the needed experience for a place on the 40-man roster, and that gives the Orioles more flexibility.
The Orioles were busy adding and subtracting players from the 40-man roster all season. Some of those who were signed to minor league contracts had to added to the 40. Outfielders Chris Dickerson and Henry Urrutia, pitchers Jairo Asencio, Freddy Garcia and Jair Jurrjens and first baseman Travis Ishikawa all had their contracts purchased.
Only Urrutia, who was signed as a minor league free agent, is still with the team.
The Orioles used 52 players in both 2012 and 2013, and it won’t be a surprise if they used as many in 2014.
Some players who have major league experience could find it difficult to make the Orioles this season. Pitchers Mike Belfiore, Brad Brach Edgmer Escalona and Liam Hendriks, catcher Johnny Monell and second baseman Jemile Weeks, all played in the big leagues last season, are on the 40. All six could start the year in Norfolk, but come up quickly.