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2017 Orioles Roster Review, Part 3: Who Could Help In 2018?

October 11, 2017
In the third of a five-part series on the Orioles' roster, we look at the some of the top prospects who have already played for the Orioles and a few more who could make a difference in 2018. In the first part of the series, we looked at the replaceable position players, and in the second, the replaceable pitchers.
 
Biggest Names
 
Outfielder Austin Hays: The 22-year-old rocketed to the major leagues, the first player from the 2016 draft to get called up.
 
Hays batted .217 in 20 games after ending the season in a 2-for-22 slump, but the Orioles hope he can be the starting right fielder next season.
 
He hit 32 homers and drove in 95 runs while batting .329 at Class-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie in 2017.
 
Catcher Chance Sisco: If Welington Castillo doesn't invoke his $7 million player option for 2018, Sisco could be the Orioles' starting catcher -- or at least share the job with Caleb Joseph.
 
Sisco batted .333. in 10 games in September. The 22-year-old didn't throw out any of the five baserunners that attempted to steal, but the Orioles feel he's a fast learner and would do well under the tutelage of bench coach John Russell.

The Orioles are confident in Sisco's offense -- he batted .267 for Triple-A Norfolk -- but they want a defense-first catcher. 
 
Left-handed pitcher Tanner Scott: The Orioles took a late look at the 23-year-old, who appeared briefly in two September games.
 
The Orioles would love it if Scott could eventually be a starter. In 24 starts at Bowie, Scott had a 2.22 ERA and walked 46 batters in 69 innings, but he struck out 87 and allowed just two home runs.
 
Scott will pitch in the Arizona Fall League and could be the most intriguing pitching prospect the team has next spring.
 
Must Carry
 
Outfielder Anthony Santander: The Orioles selected him in last winter's Rule 5 draft, and he spent the bulk of the season on the disabled list.
 
Santander was activated in August and accrued 46 of the needed 90 consecutive days on the active roster. After the outfielder spends 44 days on the roster in 2018, he could be freely optioned to the minors. (That would be May 12).
 
Santander, who batted .267 in 13 games, never played above Single-A before this season. The Orioles like his power potential but can't afford to use a roster spot on him if he isn't going to play.
 
Possible Starters
 
Right-handed pitcher Miguel Castro: The 22-year-old was acquired from the Colorado Rockies early in the season, and while the Orioles planned on keeping him in Bowie to learn how to be a starter, they ended up needing him in the bullpen.
 
Castro pitched creditably (3-3, 3.53 ERA) in 39 games, including a start on the season's next-to-last day.
 
The Orioles are hoping he can be a starter next season, but it could be a difficult transition.
                        
Right-handed pitcher Gabriel Ynoa: The 24-year-old was picked up just before spring training and spent nearly all the season at Norfolk. With the Orioles, he was 2-3 with a 4.15 ERA in nine games, four of them starts.
 
Ynoa will be a contender for one of the back-end rotation spots.
 
Providing Relief
 
Right-handed pitcher Jimmy Yacabonis: An intriguing 25-year-old, Yacabonis was 2-0 with a 4.35 ERA in 14 games.
 
Yacabonis could break camp with the team next year, but he needs to work on his control. He walked 14 in 20.2 innings.
 
His best work came at home, where he had a 1.13 ERA in seven games.
 
A Few to Watch
 
Right-handed pitcher Hunter Harvey: It took Dylan Bundy five years to get to the major leagues and stay there, and if Harvey, who like Bundy had Tommy John surgery, follows his path, he could arrive in Baltimore next season.
 
In eight brief starts this year, Harvey allowed two runs in 18 innings (0.96). Though he's never even pitched at Frederick, it wouldn't be a surprise to see a healthy Harvey in Baltimore sometime in 2018.
 
Infielder Steve Wilkerson: Like Scott, Wilkerson will play in the AFL. The Orioles like his versatility, and like Ryan Flaherty, he can play both in the infield and outfield.
 
Wilkerson hit .305 with Frederick and Bowie in 2017.
 
Right-handed pitcher Lucas Long: Some members of the organization think Long could help the Orioles in 2018. Long, who is 25, had a solid year for the Baysox, going 9-6 with a 2.95 ERA as both a starter and reliever.