Oriole of the Day: Terrin Vavra’s on-base skills showcase potential for top-of-order role

·4 min read

This week, Major League Baseball and its players’ union met daily to try to complete a new collective bargaining agreement.

The league has already elected to postpone the start of spring training games until at least March 8; at any point, the owners could choose to lift the lockout they unanimously implemented when the previous CBA expired and allow the season to begin. Instead, negotiations between the league and players over a collection of issues are threatening Opening Day, with the league announcing the season will start later than March 31 as scheduled if there isn’t an agreement in place by Monday. Saturday was supposed to be the Orioles’ first spring training game.

In the meantime, they and other teams are unable to adjust their 40-man rosters or even acknowledge the players who are members of them. The Baltimore Sun can at least do the latter, and in the final stretch of our Oriole of the Day series, we’ll take a close look at some of the youngest members of Baltimore’s 40-man roster. The remaining players have yet to make their major league debuts.

Acquired during the 2020 season as part of the three-player return from the Colorado Rockies for reliever Mychal Givens, second baseman Terrin Vavra showed he can be a future table-setter for Baltimore despite missing two months with a lower back strain.

Quick hits

2022 Opening Day age: 24

2021 stats: .248/.388/.430, .818 OPS, five home runs, 22.8 K%, 15.8 BB% with Double-A Bowie

Under team control through: 2027

2021 in review

Number to know: 0.69%. Vavra’s rate of walks per strikeout was the second highest of any hitter in the upper levels of the Orioles’ system (minimum 150 plate appearances), trailing only top overall prospect Adley Rutschman. Of that same group, Vavra had the highest walk percentage and again trailed only Rutschman in on-base percentage. His weighted runs created plus, an all-encompassing offensive metric that compares a player to league average, was the third best in the system behind Rutschman and slugging outfielder Kyle Stowers, who shared the organization’s Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year honors.

What was good: Despite batting leadoff in all of his starts with Bowie, Vavra was at his best when he had an opportunity to drive in a run. With at least one runner in scoring position, Vavra hit .353/.522/.676. Among his focuses, he told The Sun late last year, is to bring up the power hitters behind him. That showed in how he approached batting with runners on second or third, as he drew 12 walks against nine strikeouts in those circumstances, walking in more than a quarter of such plate appearances to put another runner on base for whoever was behind him — often, Rutschman.

What wasn’t: A left-handed hitter, Vavra had worrisome platoon splits. All five of his home runs came off right-handers, who he hit .283/.415/.508 against for a .923 OPS while with Bowie. He nearly had an even walk-to-strikeout ratio, with 25 walks against 26 strikeouts. Left-handers limited Vavra to a .381 OPS in Double-A, with his three hits all being singles as he struck out 16 times against four walks.

Looking ahead to 2022

Likely 2022 role: Late-season infield option

What’s projected: With Vavra’s back injury keeping him out of games from mid-June to mid-August, he wasn’t able to make a late-season push for Triple-A. He could start 2022 there anyway, and the Orioles will likely want him to have some extended time at that level before considering a major league promotion. He certainly could be in the mix at some point in 2022, potentially as a utility player after Baltimore gave him some work in center field throughout 2021.

A step forward: It’s doubtful the Orioles will promote Vavra to platoon at second base, though he’s seemingly a more solid defender than many of their other options at that spot. Still, improvements in left-on-left matchups would be helpful not only for him reaching the majors, but also for sticking there.

Three up, three down

The past three players featured in The Baltimore Sun’s Oriole of the Day series were Rylan Bannon, DL Hall and Kyle Bradish. The Orioles due up next are Kevin Smith, Félix Bautista and Logan Gillaspie.