Wednesday, May 29, 2024
AL EastAmerican LeagueBaltimore OriolesMLB

Baltimore Orioles 2020 Season Preview

Photo: Twitter, @Orioles

According to Fangraphs.com, the Baltimore Orioles have a 0.2% chance of making the playoffs in this shortened season, the lowest of any team in MLB. Yes, it is almost certain that the Orioles will not be playing in the postseason this year, but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to look forward to for Baltimore fans.

There should be some fun players to watch with the Orioles this season, even if there’s virtually no chance of them making the playoffs this year. Hanser Alberto should be exciting to watch in 2020 after finishing third on the team in WAR last season. In 2019, the 27 year old infielder absolutely raked off of left handed pitchers, putting together a slash line of .398/.414/.534 against southpaws. John Means is another player who could be an important part of the club’s future as well. Although he will not be making the Opening Day start due to fatigue, he should be the clear number one starter in a rather lackluster rotation this year. A 3.60 ERA over 155 innings in 2019 was good enough to earn Means an All-Star appearance as well as second place in the AL ROY voting. Chris Davis should be interesting to watch but for all the wrong reasons. After starting the season 0 for 54, he ended up with a batting average under .200 for the second straight season. While he did slash a promising .467/.615/1.067 in Spring Training, he will most likely continue to be paid millions of dollars to hit under .200, at least until his contract with the team runs out after the 2022 season.

Chris Davis’ contract and slash line probably won’t get anyone too excited about the O’s, but one thing to look forward to is the idea of some of the club’s top prospects making their debuts in the orange and black. Due to the cancellation of the minor league baseball season and the new changes made to the MLB season because of COVID-19, many of the Orioles top prospects have been added to the 60-man player pool and could make an appearance this season. It looks very likely that Austin Hays will be starting for the O’s this season after putting together an impressive slash line of .309/.373/.574 in 2019, albeit with a small sample size of 21 games. Hays is the only top prospect that is projected to be starting for the Orioles but we could see a few more join him as the season progresses.

The most notable name included in the 60-man player pool is top prospect Adley Rutschman. Rutschman was drafted with the first overall pick in 2019 and is seen as one of the top 5 overall prospects in baseball right now. Baltimore general manager Mike Elias said that it’s a possibility that Rutschman could get called up this season, but that’s “if we’re heading toward a possible playoff berth,” and that seems unlikely to be the case. It’s understandable that the O’s front office doesn’t want to rush his development, as some see him as possibly the top all-around catching prospect since the Twins drafted Joe Mauer in 2001. He most likely won’t make his debut for the Orioles until 2021, but you never know what may happen in the shortened season.

Ryan Mountcastle and DL Hall are two other notable prospects that will be included in the 60-man player pool this season. It seems likely that Hall will join Rutschman at the alternative site in Bowie, but Mountcastle could be making his official major league debut soon if everything goes right. Baltimore’s top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez is one player that hasn’t made his way into the 60 man player pool, but he could find his way to the alternative site soon. All of the prospects in the Orioles 60-man player pool probably won’t be making much of an impact on the team’s record this season, but they should play a big role in the future of the organization going forward.

Speaking of the future, one very important thing to watch for this season will be the race for the number one pick in the draft. Kumar Rocker, a 6-foot-4 right handed pitcher out of Vanderbilt, is seen as the consensus top prospect in next year’s draft and could change the fortune of whichever organization that drafts him. In a 60 game season, there’s a chance that the race for the top pick could get crowded as the season goes on, so that will be something to watch. The idea of a rotation headlined by Kumar Rocker and Grayson Rodriguez, throwing to Adley Rutschman for the foreseeable future, should excite Orioles fans everywhere.

The Baltimore Orioles will almost definitely not be playing in the postseason in 2020, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any reason to pay attention to O’s games this season. The club has a lot of young prospects who could be making their debuts in this shortened season and that will certainly be a part of the organization’s future. There are a lot of questions one could ask about the Baltimore Orioles. Will Hanser Alberto continue to rake off of left handed pitchers? Will Chris Davis continue his decline towards .100? How will the prospects perform this season? Will we see Adley Rutschman make his major league debut in 2020? Will they win the race for the number one pick and Kumar Rocker?

Stay tuned to find out