All Surprise Team: Position Players

With the first half of the season in the books, it's time to evaluate who are the most pleasant surprises at each position in the organization. These players may not be the best prospects at their respective positions, but they have all exceeded expectations.

Catcher

J.R. House: Andy MacPhail will be happy that he talked the former West Virginia quarterback out of asking for his release. That is, if the Orioles ever figure out that House's defensive inefficiencies don't come close to keeping him from being more valuable than the dynamic Bako/Castillo tandem that seem to be higher on their depth chart. Offensively, House could rival Ramon Hernandez and that alone makes him an extremely valuable backup catcher.

First Base

Mike Cervenek: Not a bad pickup as far as minor league journeyman go; the 30 year old Cervenek is leading the Tides with 10 home runs and 48 RBI's.

Second Base

Jonathan Tucker: It's easy to miss the 5-7 Tucker on the baseball field, but he has impressed many observers with his scrappy play and defensive versatility. His power is non-existent, but Tucker can get on base and steal bases, which makes him a potentially valuable bench player.

Third Base

Ryan Finan: For the second year in a row, Finan is putting up impressive numbers in A-ball. Now playing third base for the Frederick Keys, it'll probably take another good year in double-A before anyone takes him seriously as anything but an organizational type.

Shortstop

Blake Davis: A .424 OPS through his first 48 at bats in double-A are not exactly inspiring, but Davis gets the nod here due to a scorching April (.352/.403/.521). The most important thing is that Davis has the ability to stick at shortstop, which eases the pressure on his bat.

Outfield

Brandon Tripp: Although he has come back to earth of late (.658 June OPS), Tripp is still enjoying a breakout season. He was lauded by his coaches at Cal State Fullerton for his athleticism and a simple adjustment in his swing has allowed him to turn his tools into production. He can play a sound centerfield, but the O's will likely leave him alone in right field as long as he keeps posting a ~.900 OPS in an extreme pitching-friendly environment.

Outfield

Arturo Rivas: He battled a minor shoulder tweak earlier in the season, but Rivas has carried over his second half success from last year. Long a favorite of tools-hounds, Rivas' .317/.397/.504 batting line is indicative of how far he has developed his secondary skills. The 23 year old still has time to emerge as a legitimate major leaguer.

Outfield

Tike Redman: To understand exactly how well this reclamation project is playing right now, you have to understand that it is harder to hit in Norfolk than it is to hit in the major leagues. Read that sentence again. Redman, who is more of a speedy defense-first type, is making a bid for a place on the 25-man roster with a .296/.377/.412 batting line and 15 stolen bases in his first 54 games.

Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com


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