2016 Orioles preview: Joey Rickard

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With Opening Day only a few days away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2016 Orioles every day as they try to return to the playoffs for the third time in five years this season.

March 1 – Adam Jones
March 2 – Chris Tillman
March 3 – Jonathan Schoop
March 4 – Brad Brach
March 5 – Nolan Reimold
March 6 – Yovani Gallardo
March 7 – Matt Wieters
March 8 – T.J. McFarland
March 9 – Dariel Alvarez
March 10 – Brian Matusz
March 11 – J.J. Hardy
March 12 – Mychal Givens
March 13 – Ryan Flaherty
March 14 – Ubaldo Jimenez
March 15 – Mark Trumbo
March 16 – Darren O’Day
March 18 – Pedro Alvarez
March 19 – Oliver Drake
March 20 – Mike Wright
March 21 – Zach Britton
March 22 – Caleb Joseph
March 23 – Dylan Bundy
March 24 – Christian Walker
March 25 – Chaz Roe
March 27 – Manny Machado
March 28 – Chris Davis
March 29 – Miguel Gonzalez (placed on release waivers on Wednesday)
March 30 – Kevin Gausman

OF Joey Rickard

Age: 24

Contract status: Under club control through the 2021 season

2015 stats (with Triple-A Durham): .360/.437/.472, 0 HR, 11 RBI, 16 R, 1 SB, 104 PA

Why to be impressed: The Rule 5 pick has been the surprise of the spring, playing good defense and hitting .387 with a 1.029 on-base plus slugging percentage in 71 plate appearances to not only earn a roster spot but put himself in line to start in left field. This comes on the heels of a minor-league season in which he hit a combined .321 with a .427 on-base percentage over three levels.

Why to be concerned: The Tampa Bay Rays and 13 other clubs slotted higher in the Rule 5 draft passed on having Rickard while the Orioles are now ready to make him an everyday player. Despite his strong season in 2015, Rickard hit just two homers and his on-base capability may be stunted in the majors where pitchers won’t be afraid to challenge him with strikes and better stuff.

2016 outlook: The Orioles hoped Rickard could simply be an upgrade over David Lough when they drafted him, and he has certainly shown the ability that he could do that at the very least. There is probably too much hype after his strong spring, but his speed and defensive ability will still make him a useful player if his bat is slow to adjust to the majors as you’d expect to happen.

2016 not-so-scientific projections: .265/.334/.383, 2 HR, 31 RBI, 48 R, 15 SB, 330 PA