We are now less than three weeks away until pitchers and catchers report to their respective teams for spring training, and players and fans everywhere are gearing up for what should be another exciting MLB season.

For the Baltimore Orioles, they’ll be looking to return to tip-top shape and pick up where they left off at the end of one of their most historic postseason runs in team history.

In addition to shaking off the rust, spring training will offer manager Buck Showalter and Co. time to evaluate some of their fringe players who are on the cusp of making the major league roster.

Their decisions won’t be easy considering the Orioles’ brass needs to take into account minor league options available to some of their major league players, as well as a pair of Rule 5 selections in right-handed pitchers Jason Garcia and Logan Verrett.

A large portion of last season’s roster will be returning, however, and there are still a few key decisions that will eventually need to be made regarding starters.

As of right now, right field seems to be the position that will be most highly contested come spring training.

It seems as if Alejandro De Aza will be the everyday leadoff man and starting left fielder for the Orioles in 2015, with incumbent All-Star Adam Jones manning center field per usual.

That leaves a bit of a question mark for who will end up with the starting right fielder gig.

The Orioles acquired left-handed hitting outfielder Travis Snider in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates, which involved sending left-handed pitching prospect Stephen Tarpley to the steel city.

Snider, who hit for a .264 batting average with a .338 on-base percentage, seems like the best bet to win the job when you add in his above-average defensive ability.

Snider totaled just 13 homers in 2014, but it isn’t hard to imagine him hitting at least 20 in a hitter’s haven like Camden Yards.

A few other candidates for the right field position include Steve Pearce, David Lough and Dariel Alvarez.

If the Orioles were to start Snider in right field, they would then remove the need to play Pearce in the outfield just to keep his bat in the lineup.

Pearce’s everyday role would either be at first or designated hitter with Chris Davis holding down the other slot.

Lough’s hopes at having a starting role in 2015 were essentially torn away after the trade for Snider.

In 197 plate appearances in 2014, Lough only managed to tally four homers and eight stolen bases with a .247/.309/.385 slash line.

Lough’s only true advantage over Snider is his speed and base-running ability, which Snider makes up for and then some with his on-base skills and power from the left side.

With the lack of opportunity given the logjam in the outfield positions, the best option for Alvarez is to get as many at-bats as he can in the minors and fine-tune his skills.

In an interview with MASNSports.com’s Steve Melewski, Jeff Manto, Orioles’ coordinator of minor league hitting, had this to say on Alvarez’s next step in improvement:

His next step is pitch recognition and realizing what pitchers are doing.

It may hurt him, all that swinging. He has to get a little more disciplined.

The best hitting coach for him at this point is going to be the opposing pitcher. They are going to give him all kinds of information as to what he needs to do. That is what is going on right now in Norfolk. He is seeing 1-0 and first-pitch sliders. And if he doesn’t hit them, he won’t need a hitting coach to realize he has to lay off that thing.

No matter how bleak Alvarez’s chances look to earn a starting spot and at the least make the Opening Day roster, he could still earn a call-up midseason depending on his improvement at the Triple-A level.

One thing is for sure, though; you can never have too much depth.


Snider: 80 percent

Pearce: 12 percent

Lough: 6 percent

Alvarez: 2 percent


All statistics provided by Baseball Reference unless otherwise noted.

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