This is the time in the offseason where savvy clubs are able to make some under-the-radar minor-league signings that can help them down the road. And while the Orioles signings of Delmon Young and Alexi Casilla over the past few days aren’t groundbreaking -- I know a lot of fans just see it as more furstrating examples of bargain-bin shopping -- and by no means are they going to push the team over the top, they definitely fill some needs. Because of his strong splits against left-handed pitching, Young – signed to a minor league deal on Monday evening – can fill the right-handed designated hitter spot left open when the Orioles dealt Danny Valencia. Young owns a .303/.341/.471 slash line against left-handed hitters over his eight-year career, while Valencia recorded a .329/.367/.513 mark against lefties in a smaller sample size. He can help this team. Young is known as a notoriously aggressive free swinger, but he owns a career batting average for balls in play of .322. He is a career .350 hitter on the first pitch of at bats but he’s a career .196 hitter with two strikes. In other words, don’t expect him to work too many counts. See ball, hit ball. Here’s another interesting fact about Young. In 21 career games at Camden Yards, he has a career .321/.376/.440 line. That batting average is his highest career average at any visiting park where he’s played more than 20 games. I wrote about Casilla’s value a few days ago. Combine his ability to play multiple infield positions – second base, shortstop and third base – as well as his speed on the bases and his reputation as a good teammate and he could very well make the team. If Ryan Flaherty is the Orioles starting second baseman, the club will need someone to fill the utility role that Flaherty played the past two years. Casilla is the best fit. And if for some reason, Manny Machado isn’t back from offseason knee surgery by Opening Day, Flaherty would likely be the one to shift to third base to fill in for Machado. While there are a number of players – Casilla, Jemile Weeks, Jonathan Schoop, Cord Phelps and Ivan DeJesus, Jr. among them – Casilla stands out because of his flexibility. Since Young and Casilla are signed to minor league deals, the club doesn’t have much invested in them now. If they don’t perform well this spring, they can easily cut bait or send them to the minors. Because they’re both veterans, they will likely have opt-out clauses that can help them find work with a big league club elsewhere.
Orioles' recent minor-league deals could have major impact
Baltimore Sun | Jan 14