Keegan Akin, Ryan Mountcastle, Dean Kremer, and Bruce Zimmermann weren’t expected to make the Opening Day roster for the Baltimore Orioles, but with the first baseball of the season on the horizon, the Orioles have the chance to reevaluate, per MASN’s Roch Kubatko. The Orioles will have to balance service time concerns and the fear of rushing youngsters into an uncertain landscape with the stark fact that the game’s highest level is the only level available for competitive play this season. Prospects can continue to work out, either independently or as part of the 60-man extended rosters, but to get game reps, the majors is the only game in town. Mountcastle, coming off a .312/.344/.527 season in Triple-A, could find himself on the major-league roster, even if the Orioles would prefer – in a vacuum – to allow him more development time elsewhere.
- Yusniel Diaz presents a similarly interesting case for the O’s, per Kubatko. Like Mountcastle, Diaz was expected to make his ML-debut at some point, but unlike Mountcastle, the Cuban outfielder has yet to appear higher than Double-A. Should they choose a more judicious approach, Baltimore can certainly make do with Anthony Santander, D.J. Stewart, Austin Hays, and Dwight Smith Jr. in the outfield. Still, every decision for the Orioles has to be made with the future in mind, and they’ll have to decide whether exposing someone like Diaz to major league pitching earlier than planned will benefit his long-term development. With Trey Mancini out for the year, there are plenty of at-bats to go around for corner outfield candidates.
Elsewhere in the Mid-Atlantic, if the Nationals can lean on their big four in the rotation as they did in last year’s postseason, everything should be hunky-dory for the champs, per Byron Kerr of MASN. Of course, Manager Davey Martinez put those boys through a grind last October, with Patrick Corbin pushed to the limit as a swingman, and Max Scherzer’s shoulder barely holding up long enough to get through game seven of the World Series in Houston. The long layoff should help Scherzer, Corbin, Stephen Strasburg, and Anibal Sanchez avoid a World Series hangover, but the bullpen looks stronger as well. They’ll get a full season from Daniel Hudson, won’t have to lean as hard on Sean Doolittle, and Will Harris joins the team from Houston to shore up the backend. Doolittle has been one of the more vocal ballplayers during the pandemic, but as of now, no Nats have decided to sit out the season.