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Five Impressions From Orioles Minicamp

January 11, 2018
The Orioles had their annual three-day minicamp in Sarasota, Fla., Jan. 8-10. Here are five impressions from the camp.
 
1. Hunter Harvey looks strong
 
It's been nearly five years since Harvey was the team's No.1 draft choice. The right-hander, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2016, threw a bullpen session Jan. 9.
 
"He's got the pitcher's body, so hopefully he can stay healthy and we can stay on top of his health and he can get back to pitching and not worrying about it," pitching coach Roger McDowell said.
 
The Orioles aren't sure where Harvey will start the season. It could be with Class-A Frederick or Double-A Bowie. It will be a joint decision, as executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, manager Buck Showalter and director of player development Brian Graham will all discuss it.
 
If everything works well, Harvey will finish the season with the Orioles.
 
2. The Orioles want Miguel Castro to start
 
There are openings on the starting staff, and Castro was on hand to talk with Showalter, McDowell and bullpen coach Alan Mills about it. He did not throw in the bullpen.  
 
Last year, after serving effectively as a long reliever, the right-hander got a start on the next-to-last day of the season.
 
"I think he has the ability. He has the pitches," McDowell said. "What does he need to do? I think he just needs the opportunity to go out there and get the ball."
 
The Orioles like to joke about Castro's weight. He's listed as 205 pounds, but on his 6-foot-7 frame, he looks skinny.
 
"Boy, he can use a few pounds, huh?" McDowell said with a laugh.
 
3. Showalter closer to deciding if Manny Machado will play shortstop. 
 
Even though Machado -- and every other position player -- was not in Sarasota this week, Showalter was aggressively questioned about Machado's a possible move from third base to shortstop.
 
Showalter wouldn't disclose his thinking but said he was closer to making a decision. If Machado is moved to short, perhaps Tim Beckham, who has limited experience there, will move to third, or the Orioles could sign or trade for a third baseman and Beckham would become a super-utility player.
 
4. During the previous three minicamps, there's been an unknown pitcher who makes a positive impression and contributes for the Orioles during the season. There are a few possibilities this year.
 
In 2015, right-hander Mychal Givens used minicamp to impress the team. In 2016, it was left-hander Donnie Hart, and last season it was right-hander Jimmy Yacabonis.
 
This season, some candidates include left-handed reliever Luis Gonzalez, who pitched very well for Frederick last season and was nearly protected by the Orioles in the Rule 5 draft, and fellow left-handers Nestor Cortes, a Rule 5 pick, and Andrew Faulkner.
 
Cortes could start or relieve, while Faulkner, who was acquired last season from the Texas Rangers, is a pure reliever. He pitched in 20 games for the Rangers in 2015 and 2016.
 
"I'm not saying that everybody here has a chance to impact our club, but some of them are here for that," Showalter said.
 
5. The Orioles will consider a number of pitchers as possible starters.

Right-handers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman are the only pitchers assured of a spot in the rotation. Castro will have to prove he has the stamina this spring.
 
There are many other contenders. One is Chris Tillman, who was around the facility this week, working in the weight room and fishing in the pond.
 
Tillman lives in Sarasota, and the Orioles, who maintain interest in him, have allowed him to use the facility.
 
Cortes is another candidate, particularly if the Orioles don't sign or trade for another left-hander.
 
Others who could get a look early or later in the season who were at the minicamp are left-hander Chris Lee, who had a disappointing minor league season, and right-handers Lucas Long and Yefry Ramirez.
 
Showalter said Lee needed to "graduate" from a prospect. Long reminds some observers of former Oriole Tyler Wilson, who signed last week to play in South Korea. Ramirez was obtained last July from the New York Yankees and pitched for Bowie.
 
Right-handers Mike Wright and Gabriel Ynoa, who are both out of options, will also try and fit into the starting mix.

Photo Credit: Rich Dubroff/PressBox