Thursday, September 17, 2015

Oriole #1004- Dariel Alvarez

Oops, it looks like I'm a little late to the party on this debut post. Normally I try to cover debuts within a few days of their occurrence but Dariel made his debut during the Orioles' ugly August losing streak and I guess I tuned out of the action for a little bit and then neglected to catch up afterwards. Better late than never should be the new slogan for this blog!

Dariel made his Orioles (and MLB) debut back on August 28th against the Rangers in Texas. To date, he's played in eight games for the Orioles, and has hit .300 with a homer over twenty at-bats. And he's also had an opportunity or two to show off his plus arm by throwing out or holding runners from right field. It kind of reminds me of another player the Orioles had on their team for a few years...maybe someone with a Greek-sounding name, ring a bell to anyone?

Thankfully I was prepared for Dariel's debut thanks, once again, to my dad's OMC's and his time spent autographing during last Spring Training. Dariel seems like a pretty good signer, as he had signed a few of his minor league cards for me over the past few seasons, but once I have an Orioles card of a player signed, I can rest easy knowing that I will never need to add a name to my need list.

The Orioles signed Dariel in July 2013 after he defected from Cuba, and has spent the past three seasons rising through the Orioles farm system. Over that time, he has also been a member of the 2014 All-Star Futures Game, and won the 2015 International League Home Run Derby.

Over the course of this season, I've been quite confident that Dariel would make his Orioles debut at some point along the way, and I included him as a potential candidate to be Oriole #1000 back in March, April, and June. I was obviously a little off on which debut he actually was, but not about the fact that he did make his debut in 2015. I would expect him to be a part of the Orioles cloudy outfield picture in 2016, and probably beyond, especially if he can move past some unspecified issues that seemed to slow his ascent to Baltimore this year.

At this point in the season, there are no more players who have been called up by the Orioles and have not yet made their Baltimore debuts, although Norfolk catcher Audry Perez was sent to Sarasota as a member of the "taxi squad" in case any late season injuries were to occur, and he has not yet played for the Orioles, so he could technically still appear in a game for the O's in 2015. I would not expect to see him however, so it looks like Dariel will close the book on new Orioles during this season, which means that Orioles #987-1004 happened during 2015.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Oriole # 1003- Paul Janish

Ah yes, finally another Orioles debut that I was actually prepared for; these are the types of debuts I like, from a collection standpoint at least. Thankfully, my dad got this Paul Janish "old man card" signed during his Spring Training trip so it will now slide right into my collection.

If you've been following my blog, you might have seen this card a few times before since I've included Paul multiple times in some potential 2015 Orioles posts. I listed him among the players who had a chance to be Oriole #1000, which he obviously was not, but 1003 isn't too far off.

Paul was signed by the Orioles as a minor league free agent last November and started the year slowly as he was recovering from off-season elbow surgery. If not for that he would likely have been in the utility infielder competition during Spring Training but he only ended up appearing in 10 spring games before being sent to the minors. He has spent all season with AAA Norfolk and I believe was leading the International League with a .990 fielding percentage (4 errors in 407 chances). He is known much more for his glove than his bat, but the Orioles need an everyday shortstop since J.J. Hardy is once again on the disabled list.

Paul last played in the Major Leagues with the Braves in 2013, and has spent the vast majority of his time in the Majors with the Reds from 2008-11, having appeared in 324 of his 433 MLB games in Cincinnati. He immediately made his Orioles debut the day he was called up, going 1-3 at the plate and showed some solid glove work in the field, as can be expected with him. He played again yesterday, this time as a defensive replacement, so it seems like he might be an (almost) every day player.

I've heard rumors that the O's wanted Paul back next season, as it sounds like he is a good veteran clubhouse presence, and could have a future in coaching if he so desires, so I'm happy to have him on the team. Maybe a steady veteran player can help stabilize the Orioles for the playoff run.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Oriole #1002- Junior Lake

What was it that I just wrote in my last post about how when one player makes their Orioles debut, it seems that a few more are bound to follow? Well, that pattern is certainly holding true right now as Junior Lake was the third player to make their O's debut within a six day span. And he is also the third consecutive player to debut whose autograph is not in my collection, so that's just great. Thankfully, as was the case with Gerardo Parra, there are plenty of certified autographs available of Junior's out there, so it won't be hard to add his autograph to my collection at some point.

Credit: Getty Images

Junior was just traded to the Orioles from the Cubs at the trade deadline on July 31st in return for Tommy Hunter. At the time the move was made, I figured the O's were just looking for some salary relief for Hunter and viewed Lake as a controllable asset for the future, since he can't become a free agent until 2020. He has appeared in 193 games for the Cubs over the past three seasons, and hit .241 with 16 homers over his time on the north-side of Chicago. I remember that he sparked a baseball "fight" with the Marlins earlier this year after he hit a home run and enjoyed it a little bit too much.

So far, over two games with the Orioles, he is 1-8 with a double, but made a nice defensive play in left field that was captured in the above picture.

Time will tell what Lake's role will be in the organization, but it's hard to argue right now that just about anyone isn't an upgrade over Travis Snider, who was designated for assignment to make way for Junior.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Oriole # 1001- Jorge Rondon

It's kind of funny to me that it took over a month between Orioles #999, Mychal Givens, who debuted on June 24th, and #1000, Gerardo Parra, who made his momentous debut on August 1st. And then all of sudden, Oriole #1001, Jorge Rondon, made his O's debut the day after Parra. Granted that Rondon's debut did occur because of an injury to Mike Wright, who had just been recalled on July 31st, but still debuts seem to follow a feast or famine type of pattern. And I would certainly expect another handful of debuts to come in the following two months of the season. 

Photo credit
Jorge's Orioles debut was quite a successful one, as he pitched 3.1 innings against the Tigers on Sunday, and gave up just three hits while he struck out one in a scoreless appearance. I do not have an autograph of his, and he has very few cards out there, so I hope to get an OMC signed at some point in the near future. He was optioned back to Norfolk after his appearance, but it was due to the roster crunch not his performance.

Photo credit
He has also pitched in the Majors for the Cardinals in 2014 ( 1 game-1 IP, 1 BB) as well as the Rockies earlier this year (2 disastrous games- 1 IP, 8 H, 10 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 90.00 ERA). He is 27 years old so is past the "prospect" years, but he has 10 years of minor league pitching experience and has absolutely dominated at AAA Norfolk this season to the tune of a 1.93 ERA over 25 appearances out of the bullpen to go along with 37 strikeouts over 42 innings. Also he has an all-important spot on the 40 man roster, so I would certainly expect him to be back in Baltimore at some point this season.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Oriole #1000- Gerardo Parra

Well, Oriole #1000 has finally made his debut, and it's none other than Gerardo Parra, an Orioles trade deadline acquisition from the Brewers. The Orioles gave up their #3 prospect, Zach Davies, to make the deal, so only time will tell to see if Gerardo is enough to push the 2015 O's to the playoffs, but you have to take some risks when you are in the playoff hunt. 

When Gerardo ran onto the field for Saturday night's game against the Tigers, as the Orioles starting left-fielder, he forever cemented his name into the record books as the 1000th player to appear in a game for the Orioles. He was the first new Oriole to debut in over a month (Mychal Givens became #999 way back on June 24th), and I started to assume that #1000 would be a player acquired in a trade as July ticked by and no other players were being recalled from the minor leagues.

I wrote at least three posts about the various minor leaguers in the Orioles farm system who had the potential to become #1000, and I have to admit that I personally hoped that the player who debuted as that special number would have been one of the long-time players in the farm system who I have enjoyed watching play over the years at the various rungs on the O's minor league ladder. Admittedly, Eddie Gamboa was my specific hope for #1000, but that's really not here nor there. In my posts about the potential #1000, I certainly conceded that he could be someone who wasn't in the O's organization and that it would have been silly to blindly speculate about the 100's of other MLB players on different teams. In fact, I don't think I would have even guessed that #1000 would be Parra as of a week ago. 

Now that Gerardo is in town, he's certainly a major upgrade over pretty much anyone the Orioles have been playing at the corner outfield spots over the course of the 2015 season, so the trade certainly looks good on paper. And it didn't hurt that he doubled in his first at-bat for the Birds.

For the time being, mainly because it was very hard for me to justify NOT having an autograph of Oriole #1000 in my collection, I bought this nice autograph of Parra online to plug into my collection. He certainly has a unique and elaborate autograph, and I have to wonder how this one would compare to his in-person signature. My dad was already fast at work making Gerardo's first Orioles cards, so with any luck, I will get one of those signed in the near future too.

Congratulations to Gerardo Parra on becoming the 1000th player in Orioles history! Oh, and check out this cool infographic the Orioles created to mark the momentous occasion!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

An Updated Steve Lombardozzi Autograph

For the first time since I scanned the autographs my dad helped me get during Spring Training, I was actually able to get my act together and organize my cards. Which pretty much means that I have some more autographs to write about, at least theoretically. I just need to find the time and motivation to write with my ever decreasing free time, but isn't that the case for most of us? Anyway, at least I can hang my hat on the fact that I've continued to stay up on the Orioles debut posts, if nothing else.

Today's autograph is of Oriole #971, Steve Lombardozzi. Steve played in 20 games for the Orioles in 2014, all but one of which was during April, but he was inexplicably pictured as an Oriole in the 2014 Topps Update set, which came out in October. Outside of my dad's OMC cards, I'm very comfortable in saying that this is the only Orioles card that will ever feature Steve.

He seemed to be a relatively big part of the O's 2014 utility infield plans when the team traded for him late in Spring Training last year, but I got the sense that he must have rubbed some people in the O's organization the wrong way since he was effectively out of the picture after April, even though he was hitting .288. He was passed up for promotion numerous times throughout the season, and didn't even get a September call-up, which was very strange considering that he was on the 40 man roster. Early in February 2015, the Pirates purchased him from the Orioles and that was the end of Lombo's strange stint in Birdland.

It was a relatively disappointing stint because Steve attended high school at Atholton, which is only about 15 minutes from Baltimore and very close to where I live. I had hoped to get a chance to talk to him about playing for his "hometown" Orioles at some point, but unfortunately, he didn't prove to be very fan friendly in my limited interactions with him, something that has been echoed to me by other autograph collectors. But luckily a fellow collector on SportsCollectors.Net was able to help me get his O's card signed and personalized, so now I can remove a name from my list that probably shouldn't have been there in the first place.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Oriole #999- Mychal Givens

Wow, I hope that none of you read my post from last week speculating about who the one thousandth Oriole might be, seeing as how I listed ten potential candidates to make their Orioles debut, and not a single one of them was Oriole #999 Mychal Givens. Partially, this is because I chose to focus on the potential debuts of players at the AAA level to somewhat limit the pool of candidates (outside of Bowie Baysox pitcher Tim Berry, who was on the 40 man roster). Additionally, Givens hadn't been invited to the Orioles big league Spring Training, generally an indicator at the time about a player's general standing in the organization. HOWEVER, Givens is a name that Buck Showalter has mentioned multiple times this year in assorted interviews and once Buck has an eye on you, it generally means positive things about your future.

Givens has a pretty interesting history in the O's farm system, as he was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2009 draft, and the Orioles decided to have him play shortstop. Apparently, coming out of high school, many other teams like his arm better as a pitcher and thought he had a brighter future on the mound than at short, but the O's thought otherwise.

After three relatively unremarkable seasons in the field and at the plate, the Orioles finally conceded that Givens might do better as a pitcher and moved him to the mound in 2013. Success didn't come right away, but apparently once someone changed his mechanics to throw from a three quarters arm slot, his velocity and results improved.

This past Saturday, the Orioles selected Mychal's contract from AA Bowie and added him to the 25 & 40 man rosters. After watching three games from the bullpen, he got to make his Orioles & MLB debut in last night's game against the Red Sox in Boston. He needed only 11 pitches (8 of which were strikes) to retire the "heart" of the Sawx batting order, including two ground-outs and a four pitch strike out of Mike Napoli.

Mychal was optioned back to AA Bowie prior to today's game to make space of the roster for Miguel Gonzalez, but he sure showed some promise in his debut. Especially since he is now on the 40 man roster, I wouldn't be surprised to see him back in Baltimore sometime soon.

And for the record, I'm pretty sure that I have a personalized autograph of his Bowman Orioles card at the top of this post. I'm pretty sure he signed and personalized both a copy of that card and the Shorebirds card for me at the same time, but all of my stuff is pretty unorganized these days. Regardless, congrats on your debut Mychal!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Who Will Be Oriole #1000? Redux

Since the Orioles are knocking on the door of having the 1000th player in team history make his debut for the club, I figured that it's once again time to look at the possible candidates for that milestone number. Back in mid-April, I wrote two posts about some of the players who were likely to make their O's debuts in the near future. At that time, following the Opening Day/week debuts, the team was still nine players away from debut #1000.

The most likely candidates to make an appearance on the team were fairly easily identified as those already on the team's 40 man roster. Since those posts and from the guys who were on the 40 man at that time, Oliver Drake, Tyler Wilson, Mike Wright, & Rey Navarro have all made their Orioles debuts. In addition to those guys, Chaz Roe, Cesar Cabral, and Chris Parmelee have also been added to the 40 man and have made their Orioles debuts.

Still remaining on the 40 man roster, and having not yet made their Orioles debuts are:

Tim Berry, who is currently struggling with a 2-5 record and 6.99 ERA at AA Bowie, 

and knuckleballer Eddie Gamboa, who is 4-4 with a 3.45 ERA over 11 starts at AAA Norfolk.

Of those two, I would say that Gamboa is a strong candidate to make his Orioles debut in the relatively near future, especially considering the O's already called him up to Baltimore once earlier in the season but he didn't make it into a game at the time. Conversely, Berry is a candidate to be removed from the 40 man and I don't think we will see him in Baltimore anytime soon.

The O's have also added reliever Jorge Rondon on a waiver claim from Colorado in early May and he now resides on the 40 man roster as well. He has pitched in 12 games for the Tides and is 2-0 with a 2.89 ERA so he is certainly a viable candidate to make an appearance for the O's.

Beyond those three members of the 40 man who haven't yet played for the O's, I would say the likely or possible members of the Tides to make it to Baltimore are, in no particular order, Dariel Alvarez, Paul Janish, Julio Borbon, Pedro Beato, Michael Bowden, Zach Davies, and Pat McCoy. Prospect types like Alvarez and Davies will almost certainly play for the O's at some point, barring a trade or an injury, but who knows when that could be? Beato, Bowden and McCoy are all pitching well for the Tides, and I know that Buck seems to like the defense of Janish and Borbon, so that keeps them as possibilities.

There are obviously thousands of other players currently playing for the other 29 MLB teams and their affiliates that could come to the O's in some sort of trade, but I just can't assess the likelihood that any of them come to Baltimore and appear for the Birds.

After all of that analysis, here's my final prediction for Oriole #1000...Eddie Gamboa! Time will tell if I'm right, but I would expect #1000 to occur within the next month-ish, so the wait shouldn't be too long! Let me know who you think #1000 could be in the comments.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Oriole #998- Chris Parmelee

Did you all happen to catch the O's game last night? It was a slobber-knocker as the Orioles demolished the Phillies 19-3. They hit 8 home runs in the game, which is an all-time team record, and my dad and I had actually talked about going to the game before deciding against it. Oh well, at least it was fun to watch on TV. And Chris Parmelee contributed to the win with one of the best ever offensive debuts by going 4-6 with two home runs.

Apparently, Chris was only the second Orioles player ever to hit two homers in his debut, following Sam Horn on April 9, 1990, and just the third with four hits in his debut following Horn and Ronny Paulino on April 7, 2012. Let's just hope that Parmelee's time in Baltimore ends better than Paulino's did, as he ended up with just twelve additional hits over nineteen games following that four hit debut.

Parmelee has a decent track record, as he was the Twins first round selection (20th overall) in the 2006 draft. He played for the Twins from 2011-14, but never appeared in more than 101 games in a season, and finished his time in Minnesota with a .249 average, and 24 home runs over 273 games. 

The Orioles signed him as a free agent this past January and he had been tearing up the AAA International League all season long and was hitting .312 with 6 homers and and on-base percentage near .400 over 61 games. However, he wasn't on the Orioles forty man roster, and is pretty much a 1B/corner OF of which the O's already have too many guys taking up spots on the roster. But they had to give him a shot or risk losing him to a competitor as he had a June 15th opt-out date. And I know that it's a very small sample size, but the move is already seeming to pay dividends. Now if he can only continue to produce, he should settle in nicely on the team. 

As I so often write, thanks goes once again to my dad for his helping making this Old Man Card as well as getting it signed for me on his Spring Training trip. Thanks to him, this will slide very nicely into a permanent spot in the collection. 

Since Parmelee is now officially Oriole #998, we are really knocking on the door of the 1000th debut in team history. I'm pretty sure that very few people are as excited for it as I am, but it's a cool milestone and I can't wait to see who it will be; I think I should do an update post about the remaining candidates for #1000. Hopefully I will get that up in the next few days. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Oriole #997- Cesar Cabral

We are getting closer and closer to the magical number for Oriole #1000; who will it be? Since I posed the question back in April, six players from the Tides have made their debuts, and now we are just three away. Maybe it's time to revisit the question. But today's focus is on the 997th player to appear in a game for the O's, Cesar Cabral.

Now most of you probably are probably aware that I don't much care for having signed Yankees cards in my collection, but for the time being, this is Cesar's only card in major sets. And, I certainly prioritize having any sort of autograph over my dislike of signed Yanks cards, so for now, this is in my collection.

Cesar has quite the interesting transaction history, most of it occurring with the teams of the AL East. He was originally signed as an amateur free agent by the Red Sox back in 2005; the Rays then selected him in the 2010 Rule V draft. Over the course of 2 weeks during spring training 2011, he was picked up on waivers by the Blue Jays, then the Rays again, and eventually returned to the Red Sox. After the 2011 season, he was again taken in the Rule V draft, this time by the Royals, and then was purchased by the Yankees. Got all that?

He eventually made his MLB debut with the Yankees in September 2013, and would pitch a total of twelve games with the Evil Empire over the '13-14 seasons, ending up with a 7.71 ERA over 4.2 IP, so he's definitely a LOOGY (lefty one one guy).

The Orioles signed him to a minor league contract this past January, and he actually never even pitched for the big league club during spring training, so it's a pretty impressive feat for him to be off the radar in March and now pitching for the team in June. But that is what having a 0.00 ERA and 25 K's split between 21 games at AA Bowie(2) and then AAA Norfolk(19) will do for a guy. And he's been good with the O's so far too, with two hitless/scoreless appearances totaling an inning of work.

Keep up the good work Cesar!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Oriole #996- Chaz Roe

Unlike the previous four players who made their Orioles debuts (Rey Navarro, Mike Wright, Tyler Wilson, & Oliver Drake), Chaz Roe has been around the block a time or two. He actually has limited MLB experience, which includes 21 games with the Diamondbacks in 2013, as well as 3 appearances with the Yankees last year, but he was selected way back in the first round of the 2005 draft by the Rockies. He has pitched in the farm systems for five different teams and spent some time in the independent American Association over the past 11 years.

Chaz made his Orioles debut on May 24th against the Marlins and pitched two scoreless innings without allowing a baserunner and striking out two. He's made it into two more games since his O's debut, he walked two over 1.1 innings against the Astros on Tuesday, and gave up a hit and struck out one against the White Sox in the first game of today's doubleheader. So covering three appearances over 5 innings, he has given up just one hit, two walks and struck out three. Not too shabby.

Thanks to my dad's time spent getting autographs on his spring training trip and work making his Old Man Cards, I have probably the only signed Chaz Roe Orioles card in the world. Thanks Dad! And I'm 100% positive I have the only one personalized to Rayn!

I included Chaz in the group of Norfolk Tides players whom I considered that "anyone from this group could make it to Baltimore or none of them could" when evaluating candidates for Oriole #1000 just over a month ago. Looks like I was at least partially correct.

And good luck Chaz, keep mowing down those hitters!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Oriole #995- Oliver Drake

Wow, with four players making their Orioles debut last week, it's really pushing the pace of my posts. Considering there's no way I have time to write four in a week right now, maybe slow down a little bit with the new players, whaddya think O's? But then again, at this rate, we will see Oriole #1000 in just a few short weeks!

In this past Saturday's game against the Marlins, Oliver Drake became the third Orioles pitched within a week to make their MLB debut for the team, following Mike Wright, and Tyler Wilson. And it was another stellar showing once again!

Drake entered in the ninth inning of a scoreless game (no additional pressure for an MLB debut, right?) and pitched three scoreless innings giving up just two hits and striking out two. He pitched again in the eighth inning on Monday's game, with the O's staked to a 4-3 lead, and was dominant yet again, as he struck out two of the three Astros he faced and didn't allow anyone to get on base. 

Oliver took the long and winding road to the major leagues, as he was drafted by the O's in the 43rd round of the 2008 draft out of the Naval Academy. He pitched at every level of the O's farm system, including Bluefield, which hasn't even been an Orioles affiliate since 2010, but he continued to rise through the system. The O's actually added him to their 40 man roster way back in 2011 to protect him from the Rule V draft, but subsequent injuries and roster crunches led to his being removed before pitching for the team at that point. 

He was actually a minor league free agent following the 2014 season, but he agreed to a major league deal that once again saw him added to the 40-man roster. It was a deal that made since for both sides since Drake knew that being on the 40-man made a call-up much more likely and the O's obviously liked something they saw in him. 

He was largely a starter over his first four years in the O's system, but was converted to a reliever in 2013 and his results seemed to improve at that point. In fact, as the AAA Norfolk Tides closer this season, he had 8 saves and a 0.96 ERA with 30 strikeouts over 18.2 innings in 16 appearances. Those are the kind of numbers that dignify a promotion!

Good luck with the Orioles Oliver! I have a feeling that you might stick around in Baltimore if you continue to pitch the way you have been so far!