22 December 2012

Where Are They Now -- the 2012 Tides Home Opener Roster (Batters)

Last time, I looked at the pitchers who were on the Norfolk Tides roster for the 2012 home opener and found that three proved to be contributors to a big-league team, six were AAA mainstays who had bigl-league cups of coffee, and four were total washouts. This time, I'll look at the twelve non-pitchers.

Ryan Adams (infielder) — Tides' fans had high hopes for Ryan Adams after a solid 2011, including doing fairly well in a late-season major-league callup. Adams returned to Norfolk for 2012, and he got off to a slow start. He broke his thumb while frustrated; when he returned, he didn't rebound and seemed to be giving less than 100%. He was declared a free agent and has been suspended for fifty games for amphetamine use.

Matt Antonelli (infielder) — Matt Antonelli began the year on the Orioles' 40-man roster. He began the season as a third baseman/second baseman at Norfolk. His offensive approach was to take plenty of pitches, and he earned 19 walks and 23 strikeouts in 116 plate appearances. But he hit for neither average nor power, and was waived off the Orioles' 40-man roster in May. The Yankees claimed him and then released him in July, and he wasn't signed by anyone else.

Xavier Avery (outfielder) — Because Xavier Avery was still raw and hadn't really shown he had mastered AA, he something of a surprise on the opening-day roster. He played well early in the season and earned a callup to Baltimore, where he saw some time in left field. He was sent back down and played less well, although he earned some emergency callups. He ended up hitting .236/.330/.356 in 102 games with Norfolk. Baseball America ranked him as the Orioles' #7 prospect, and he figures to be in the mix for a bench job with the Orioles; if he has a good spring training he might be a candidate for starting left fielder. If he doesn't stick with the Orioles out of spring training, he will probably return to Norfolk.

Scott Beerer (outfielder) — Scott Beerer began 2012 as the Tides' fourth outfielder. With Jai Miller's struggles, he played in 18 games. He got hurt at the end of April and didn't play again the rest of the season. Beerer was declared a free agent after the season.

Josh Bell (infielder) — After two chances to claim the Orioles' third-base job, Josh Bell was still in the Orioles organization, with Norfolk, at the start of the 2012 season. He hit .094 in nine games before being designated for assignment and traded to Arizona. He hit .311 and slugged .509 with the Diamondbacks' AAA team, which earned him another callup. But he hit .173/.232./.269 in the majors with the Diamondbacks, so he was removed from their 40-man roster and is now a free agent.

John Hester (catcher) — John Hester was the primary catcher for the 2011 Tides and survived spring training. But Hester had no history with General Manager Dan Duquette, and was released when the Orioles picked up Luis Exposito. Hester caught on with the Angels and was called up when injuries hit their catching corps. He did an adequate job as a part-time backup catcher and remains on the Angels' 40-man roster.

Jamie Hoffmann (outfielder) — Jamie Hoffmann and Oscar Villarreal were the two Tides who spent all 2012 in Norfolk. Hoffmann began the year as the Tides' regular left fielder. When L.J. Hoes was promoted from Bowie and Nate McLouth was signed, Hoffmann became the fourth outfielder. When McLouth joined Baltimore, Hoffmann saw more playing time, and in 110 games finished the season at .254/.347/.407. Hoffmann was declared a free agent after the season and has signed a minor-league contract with the Mets.

Joe Mahoney (infielder) — Joe Mahoney spent most of 2012 as the Tides' regular first baseman. He led the Tides in games played, at bats, hits, and runs batted in; he also went 0-for-4 in two games with the Orioles. Mahoney didn't hit quite as well as we hoped he would, and when the Orioles removed him from the 40-man roster was claimed on waivers by Miami. He's currently on the Marlins' 40-man roster.

Jai Miller (outfielder) — Jai Miller had an amazing 2012 season. He started the season as the starting right fielder, and hit 8 home runs — including two of the longest I've ever seen at Harbor Park — in 211 plate appearances. He also struck out 95 times in those 211 plate appearances — a rate of 247 strikeouts in 550 plate appearances. Miller was demoted to Bowie where he was equally ineffective; he hit .196 combined. Miller was granted free agency after the season.

Chris Robinson (catcher) — Chris Robinson began the season splitting the catcher position with John Hester, but when the Orioles signed Luis Exposito and assigned Ronny Paulino to Norfolk, Robinson was left with backup duty. 2012 was a down season in Robinson's up-and-down offensive career, and he missed most of the second half with a back injury. The Orioles re-signed him to a minor league contract for 2013, and he projects to be back at Norfolk, either as part of a split-duty catching combination or as a veteran AAA backup.

Steve Tolleson (infielder) — Steve Tolleson began the season as the Tides' starting shortstop, and did well enough to be occasionally called up to Baltimore. He played 29 games at third base, second base, shortstop, and left field as a bench player with the Orioles, but didn't hit (.183/.227/.310). Tolleson did hit better in his 50 games at Norfolk, but was declared a free agent after the season and has signed a minor-league contract with the White Sox.

Zelous Wheeler (infielder) — Zelous Wheeler was a late-spring waiver pickup from the Brewers and was sent to Norfolk to serve as a spare third baseman - second baseman. When the Orioles added Blake Davis to the Tides, Wheeler was sent to Bowie, where he spent most of the season. Wheeler continued his uncanny consistency (2012: .269/.356/.440; career: .271/.368/.414) and rejoined Norfolk briefly. Wheeler wasn't eligible for free agency, and thus remains in the Orioles organization for now.

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