Robert Neustrom stood in left field during an exhibition game and noticed Kyle Stowers in center field and Yusniel Diaz in right. His feet were planted in the grass, but his mind raced to what the future could hold.
“I looked around like, ‘Wow, this isn’t a bad outfield,’ ” Neustrom said. “So, whatever happens will happen, and I think that would be a solid outfield, if that’s what (the Orioles) want to do, and I’m happy to be a part of it.”
The Orioles drafted Neustrom in the fifth round in 2018 out of Iowa, and the 25-year-old reached Triple-A Norfolk last summer after hitting .284/.364/.467 with seven home runs in 62 games for Double-A Bowie.
His production dipped in 64 games with Norfolk, but overall he hit .258/.344/.446 with 16 home runs and 31 doubles in 126 games.
The Orioles didn’t protect Neustrom from the Rule 5 draft that ended up canceled due to the lockout. He isn’t on the 40-man roster and is fighting to get noticed among higher-profile outfielders.
Yet, Neustrom doesn’t view himself as flying under the radar.
“I played with those guys, man, and Stowers is a monster, and I’ve seen what Cowser can do, too,” Neustrom said. “I know those guys are both very talented, and I know how it works. They’re high picks . . . and I’m going to continue to do what I do and make noise.
“Pretty soon someone’s going to hear it.
The Orioles were concerned that Neustrom might be taken in the Rule 5 draft. Its cancellation brings mixed feelings for Neustrom, who’s happy to be in the organization but could have been placed on another team’s 40-man roster.
Now, he has a chance to reach MLB with the team that drafted him.
—The Orioles are keeping D.L. Hall in Sarasota after breaking camp to let him build innings. Hall, the organization’s No. 2 pitching prospect behind Grayson Rodriguez, appeared in just seven games with Double-A Bowie last summer because of a stress reaction in his left elbow and will return to the Baysox.
— Heston Kjerstad, whose professional debut was put on hold after his diagnosis of myocarditis following the 2020 draft, injured his hamstring in an intrasquad game. Kjerstad was expected to be out 8-12 weeks.