15 August 2017

Crowded House: How A Prospect's Imminent Arrival Will Affect Lineup Decisions

An announced crowd of 4,116 gathered at Prince George’s Stadium, Sunday night, to witness hometown Bowie take on Portland

The Baysox are in a battle for first place, but it was also an opportunity for fans to catch one last glimpse of outfielder Anthony Santander before his Rule 5-mandated promotion on Thursday.  He didn’t disappoint, going 2 for 4 with a home run, showcasing the talent that has him ranked in the upper-echelon of the Orioles’ farm system.

MLB.com currently lists Santander as Baltimore’s ninth-best prospect.  He’s raw, but obviously the power potential is there.  He’s listed at just 6-2, 190, but reportedly looks bigger out on the field.  And, at 22, he may continue to grow into that frame. 

A 2011, international signing by Cleveland, Santander is a switch-hitter, can take a walk, and has the ability to play both corner outfield spots, as well as first base.  As stated before, he needs reps - especially with all the time he has lost to injury. 

Personally, I hate the Rule 5 draft.  While it’s worked out for clubs such as the Orioles in the past (see Flaherty, Ryan), it usually ends up stunting the growth of the key principles involved.  A year of potential development is instead spent rotting away on a Major League bench somewhere. 

With the end of the season closing in, Baltimore will also have the ability to preserve Santander’s rookie status.  That, coupled with the Orioles’ logjams at his natural positions, removes almost any incentive for Showalter to pencil his name in more than once a week.

The players ahead of Santander on the pecking order are some guys named Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo, Seth Smith and Trey Mancini.  You’ve probably heard of them, as well as Davismuch-chronicled struggles this year. 

My perfect scenario involves benching Davis, slotting Mancini to first and letting Santander take his lumps in left field.  This, of course, will not happen.  A) Davis is not being paid $21 million dollars to occupy the pine and B) Baltimore still harbors dreams of capturing a wild card spot.  Teams with playoff aspirations don’t tend to hand out starting gigs to unproven rookies. 

To compound matters further, Ryan Flaherty and J.J. Hardy are also approaching the expiration dates on their rehab assignments (though, reportedly, Hardy may need more time on the shelf).  Their return throws the infield into further flux, as Jonathan Schoop and the red-hot Tim Beckham will continue to dominate playing time at second base and shortstop, respectively.

Hardy is making $14 million, in the last year of his contract.  If he’s healthy, the front office will demand his initials be written in the line-up, forgoing the awkward conversation about whether or not that decision holds merit.   

To satisfy everyone’s hunger for playing time, Baltimore could shuffle some of those at-bats to the DH-slot.  Unfortunately, Trumbo – who isn’t exactly setting the world on fire himself – will be spending most of the time clogging up playing time there.    

Meanwhile, cut to a shot of Craig Gentry, Joey Rickard and Ruben Tejada getting completely lost in the complex shuffle.  If the trio is demoted to make room for current DL’ers (and assuming they aren’t lost to waivers), count on at least one of them returning after September 1st

The list of mouths to feed is growing.  Anthony Santander’s hometown is Margarita, Venezuela.  Buck Showalter may need to down one or two adult beverages of the same name to devise a playing-time strategy that is fair to all players involved. 


vilnius b. said...

I agree on your comments on the Rule 5 draft. If the other organization thought so highly of that player, why didn't they keep on the 40 man roster?
It is a waste of developmental time to have them "rotting" on the bench of a MLB team.
Perhaps there's a middle ground for dealing with this rule. The team that drafts the player must keep him on the 25 man roster for 70 games (excluding injuries), and then be allowed to demote him to the minors for extra seasoning. And the injury must be real, not some minor one designed to skirt the rules.
Of course, the other solution is to make a trade with the other team.

Pip said...

I think that every rule five pic ever chosen is quite happy to sit on the bench making major league baseball minimum salary, getting free insurance for life a pension for life, and all the perks of being on a 25 man roster.
If Rickard never plays another inning, he will have made, in his brief career, more than you and I and any random dozen people put together will make in our whole lives.
I agree with the basic point of the article, however, which is that we're about to be very crowded, and that Buck will not make The best roster decisions.