Development is key in 3rd round of cuts

Pic: Richard Passwater
Pic: Richard Passwater

With the cutting of spring training phenoms Austin Hays and Anthony Santander, it’s clear Orioles GM Mike Elias is sending a message that the future is much more important than the right now.

That might be an obvious point after he took over a team coming off a 115 loss season, but as he puts together his 25-man opening day roster it’s becoming clear he had his mind made up where some players would end up to start the year.

Despite the leading the team with five home runs and slashing .351/.385/.892./1.277 while playing solid defense at all three outfield positions, the Orioles optioned Hays to AAA. Elias clearly wants his minor league players to be ready when they are called up, and even though Hays did everything to show he was, he’s never played AAA ball and is coming off an poor injury riddled season at Bowie.

It appears Hays is going to be groomed as the center fielder of the future as Elias was impressed by his speed and athleticism. He’ll most likely start the year as Norfolk’s starting center fielder for manager Gary Kendell.

After coming into this spring almost as an afterthought after another injury riddled poor minor league season, Santander made a great first impression on the new staff with a great spring that saw him slash .333/.389/.697/1.086 with a team leading six doubles. The former Rule 5 guy played a solid left field and right field and showed a good arm.

Although Santander has 139 major league PAs as he fulfilled his rule 5 requirements, he only has 281 PAs at AA, and 47 AAA PAs. Elias most likely wants him to graduate those levels before he gets a major league job. Most likely he will be Norfolk’s left fielder with Yusniel Diaz completing the outfield in right field.

Although there’s a possibility Santander could go back to Bowie, especially since DJ Stewart also needs playing time, the Norfolk outfield could be more exciting to watch than the Orioles.

No huge surprises from the other players cut, although Gabriel Ynoa was having a nice spring. Cody Carroll‘s velocity was a down a bit this spring, and Yefry Ramirez had some struggles at times despite theoretically coming into camp with a chance to be a starter. Brandon Kline impressed at times with his 96-98 MPH fastball and solid slider, but he hasn’t pitched above AA. Stevie Wilkerson and Christopher Bostick came into camp as utility candidates, but were not able to impress in the crowded field.

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Tony has owned and operated Orioles Hangout since 1996 and is well known for his knowledge of the Baltimore Orioles organization from top to bottom. He's a frequent guest on Baltimore-area sports radio stations and can be heard regularly on the 105.7 FM The Fan. His knowledge and contacts within the Orioles minor league system and the major league baseball scouting industry is unparalleled in the Baltimore media and is known as an expert on the Orioles prospects.