Breakdown of the non-roster invitees and what to look for/what to know:
Audry Perez: Perez is just here for his glove. With the competition between Sisco and Wynns for the backup spot, Perez is just here to save some knees from too much squatting in Spring Training. A camp mainstay, he may get some more action since he is the only non-roster catcher (usually 4 are invited) and Orioles favorite Fransisco Pena is gone. Will probably be one of the firs rounds to be sent back to the Minor League camp, barring injury. Most likely the backup at Norfolk.
Ryan Mountcastle: The doppelganger at batting in Frederick of Austin Hays, Mountcastle gets his first (and possibly only) non-roster invite. While the biggest positive is his bat, the biggest negative is his arm, both is strength and mechanics. He should get some good at bats against pitchers and make some good contact, but keep an eye on his fielding. If you didn’t go to any Frederick (early season) or Bowie (late season) games last year, you might not have seen what the big talk is about. He will get a chance to work with the MLB coaches on his fielding and throwing mechanics, which might help. Could also be one of the early ones sent to the Minor camp, with some call overs during the rest of the spring. Expected to be in Bowie.
Garabez Rosa: Mr. Baysox gets his first non-roster invite. Usually brought over for games from the Minor camp, Rosa is a large, outside favorite to win the utility role. Played multiple positions at Bowie, decent with the bat as far as “once he makes contact.” High strike out rate (97 last year) with only a handful of walks (17), but gets some good power with 24 doubles, 2 triples, and 14 home runs for a .444 SLG. Played all 3 outfield spots and all infield spots except shortstop last year, but played there in 2016. Most likely this is the minor league version of the “gold watch” for excellent service. One of the first cuts and sent back to the Minor camp, before heading to Bowie. This is, of course, barring him breaking out with authority and everyone else slacking.
Erick Salcedo: A slight surprise here that Salcedo, not Adrian Marin, gets invited. Salcedo was the primary shortstop for the Baysox last season, while Marin was at 2nd, which could be the reason for the nod. Had a .260 average, .320 on base, and a.661 OPS. Drew a good amount of walks (35) vs. strike outs (50.) Decent with the glove, but that’s about it. Slightly less chance of making it to the utility role than Rosa. First cut, back to the Minors camp. Might start in Bowie, or even get a Norfolk trip. Depends how the rest of the roster shapes up.
Luis Sardinas: The former Padre who became a Tide last season, Sardinas is essentially battling Tejada for the spot. Sardinas didn’t get to the Orioles squad last season, but not without trying. A glove first player, he played all over the infield except first. Played a few games in the outfield and pitched for the Padres (hey!) in one game. Not going to be the Orioles Ohtani, but hey. A switch hitter, this gives him a small advantage. The loser of him vs Tejada will head to Norfolk. Probably comes down to the end.
Ruben Tejada: A mainstay in the Orioles last season after being acquired, he has to be the favorite for the spot coming into camp. Not going to impress you with the bat, but that’s not really why they have him. Played mainly shortstop last year on the Orioles, with a few games at 2nd and 3rd. Right handed hitter, which might not serve the bench as well as the Orioles want. Probably won’t give him a big disadvantage, as he will have to get really outplayed to lose his top spot.
Cedric Mullins: A bundle of muscle and speed, Mullins shocked plenty of people as the “hero of spring” last season in Spring Training. His reward was to skip Frederick and go to Bowie, where he impressed pretty well. He missed a chunk of time due to 2 separate disabled list stints for hamstring injuries and he cooled down a bit towards the end of the season. His outfield play resulted in quite a few highlights. Can play all 3 spots easily, but his natural home is center field. A switch hitter who is better from the left, he packs punch in a small frame, with 13 home runs in 76 games. Not bad for your lead off hitter who is 5’8″. I would expect him to be in camp for a bit and spell Jones quite a bit. Not sure if he will go to Bowie or Norfolk to start off, but a strong spring like last season and a start of the year like he had could have him in Baltimore before long, especially if Jones gets hurt.
DJ Stewart: Stewart, the former 1st round pick, gets his first non-roster invite. High on the radar and talked about a lot (both good and bad reasons, more good recently) he is getting a chance to hang with the big club and show what he can do. His revamped batting style has helped him become more consistent with his power (21 home runs.) He also runs well for a chunky guy (20 stolen bases) and racked up some walks (65) vs 87 strike outs. His bat and on base stuff will be the main focal point, but check his defense. A less than stellar arm and sometimes questionable routes, he will get some benefit from the Major League coaches. Most likely starts in Norfolk but will be on the super short list of players ready to come up in case of injury. However, projects only as a left fielder, but could come off the bench in a pinch hitter/runner role, similar to Craig Gentry.