06 April 2018

Pre-Opening Day Norfolk Tides Thoughts

Joe Reisel's Archives

The Norfolk Tides, the AAA affiliate of the Orioles, open their season Friday night at home against the Gwinnett Stripers. The Orioles' minor-league spring training camp broke up earlier this week, and consequently a preliminary opening-day roster has been named for the Tides (and the other Orioles full-season affiliates.) Of course, it's a preliminary roster because transactions can still be made even up to the day of the first game. It's possible the Orioles will sign another low-level free agent, like Michael Saunders, and assign him to Norfolk.

Nevertheless, there are a few features of the preliminary roster that intrigue me (as someone who sees the Tides a lot) and may be of interest to you. In no particular order:
  • Only six of the Tides pitchers are on the 40-man roster. In the past few years, the Orioles have used the Tides staff as a source of additional arms when the parent team had a need. Of these six, Chris Lee is currently on the DL; David Hess, Yefry Ramirez, and Tanner Scott are making their AAA debuts and are not likely to be early call-ups. Only Donnie Hart and Jimmy Yacabonis fit the stereotype of the recent Tides pitcher who can readily ride the Baltimore - Norfolk shuttle.
  • In a recent tweet, the Tides announced that Jimmy Yacabonis will be the third man in their starting rotation, following Yefry Ramirez and David Hess and preceding Jayson Aquino and Tim Melville. It seems strange that Yacabonis, who has never started a professional game, would be converted to a starter at the AAA level. It's more likely that Yacabonis is being stretched out for future use as a multi-inning relief option. As mentioned above, Yacabonis is already on the 40-man roster, and he would be more valuable if he could pitch multiple innings if he's promoted to the O's. 
  • Both Tides catchers - Andrew Susac and Austin Wynns - are on the forty-man roster, and neither is particularly young. If Chance Sisco proves himself major-league ready, and the Tides need a 40-man roster spot, either Susac or Wynns would be a possible candidate to be removed. As could Chris Lee or, I suppose, Yefry Ramirez.
  • The player I'm most looking forward to seeing is DJ Stewart. I didn't realize just how good his 2017 year at Bowie was. Granted that Bowie is a good hitters park and Norfolk isn't, there's still a chance he'll be a productive hitter. It might be fun to have him be the leadoff hitter; it would definitely be fun to see a 6'0:, 230-lb player who has stolen 46 bases in two seasons.
  • In Joely Rodriguez, Garabez Rosa, Engelb Vielma, and Jaycob Brugman, the Tides have four players who are the only players in professional baseball history - at least as far as I have been able to find out - to have their respective first names. 

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