Orioles' Billy Rowell Returns To Third Base
BALTIMORE—Billy Rowell is going back where he started. And in this instance, it's probably a good development.
Rowell, the ninth overall pick in the 2006 draft, is returning to third base after a failed experiment in right field at high Class A Frederick.
"I feel like this is a good plan," said Rowell, 21, who spent his first three professional seasons at third. "The new farm director, John Stockstill, has a plan for me in place and he thinks this will get me to the big leagues the fastest."
The Orioles want the 6-foot-5, 205-pound Rowell concentrating on his hitting, which is a sound idea after he batted .225/.284/.336 with nine homers and 39 RBIs in 423 at-bats last season.
"They might DH me the first week or so, to make sure I feel comfortable there, then play a couple of days a week at third and still DH, switch off and then eventually play every day at third," Rowell said. "Just being on the dirt feels good. Outfield wasn't uncomfortable, but I've just taken a lot more ground balls in my life than fly balls. I've played infield my whole life."
Rowell doesn't blame the position switch for his struggles last season, but he seemed lost in right field.
"I don't think it hindered it," he said. "It wasn't a bad move. Everything happens for a reason and it will help me down the road now having a little experience there. It was a good choice at the time and this is another good choice."
The Orioles decided to keep Rowell at Frederick, where he hit .248/.315/.368 with seven homers and 50 RBIs in 2008.
"People get hung up on going to high A or Double-A. It's all about dominating the league and I didn't dominate last year," Rowell said. "You should have a successful year to move up. They are almost treating me now like a college guy starting at Frederick. I'm only 21. It's almost like a new slate."
• First baseman Michael Aubrey and shorstop Robert Andino cleared waivers and were outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk. Aubrey appeared in 31 games with the Orioles last season but missed time in camp with a groin injury. Andino became expendable when the Orioles traded for Julio Lugo.
• Left with a surplus of middle infielders, the Orioles assigned shortstop Blake Davis to Bowie. Davis batted .211/.270/.272 at Norfolk last season and received an invitation to spring training.