With Opening Day less than a month 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
UTI Ryan Flaherty
Contract status: Under club control through the 2017 season
2015 stats: .202/.281/.356, 9 HR, 31 RBI, 34 R, 0 SB, 301 PA
Why to be impressed: Flaherty is everything you want in a utility man from a defensive standpoint as he made starts at six different positions during the 2015 season. The left-handed hitter also did a commendable job filling in for the injured Jonathan Schoop, posting a .719 on-base plus slugging percentage from April 18 through July 4 when the young second baseman was sidelined.
Why to be concerned: He posted a horrendous .532 OPS from the time Schoop returned until the end of the season, an extended drought that ruined a respectable first half. Flaherty also posted a career-high 26.9 percent strikeout rate, which was behind only Chris Davis and Jimmy Paredes among Orioles regulars last season and higher than you’d like to see from a utility player.
2016 outlook: Flaherty figures to once again serve as a reliable bench player for manager Buck Showalter, and he plays respectable defense at different spots, allowing veterans to receive occasional days off. Given the uncertainty at the corner outfield positions for a second straight year, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Flaherty receive some starts in the outfield in 2016.
2016 not-so-scientific projections: .230/.305/.374, 8 HR, 25 RBI, 31 R, 0 SB, 257 PA