After eight-plus years on the farm, Paulo Orlando finally saw time in the bigs in 2015, playing well enough to be in the Royals' picture in 2016, especially since injuries availed playing time opportunities early in the season. Orlando parlayed a strong April and May into near regular playing time the rest of the summer, ending the season with a fantasy-friendly .302 batting average with a handful of homers and some steals. While a breakthrough season at age 30 is a nice story, a repeat is highly questionable. Orlando's success was propped by an unsustainable .380 BABIP, completely unsupported by an average line-drive rate and low hard-hit percentage, gaining about 15 more groundball hits than expected as compared to league BABIP on grounders. Considering Orlando's paucity of counting stats, impending batting average correction and uncertain playing time entering the season, he's reserve fodder at best for mixed leagues and a back-end outfielder for AL-only, so long as you aren't paying for last year's seeing-eye grounders.
Orlando went 1-for-3 with a homer, two RBI and a walk in Sunday's 8-7 victory over the Angels in Cactus League play. It was the third homer of the spring for Orlando -- a surprising development for a player who slugged all of five long balls in 483 plate appearances last season. Orlando has been useful in AL-only and deeper leagues for his stolen bases and batting average in the past, but he may be hard-pressed to deliver value in those areas now that he faces a tougher path to regular at-bats. He's on tap to open the season as the team's fourth outfielder, with Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain and Jorge Soler expected to handle everyday roles.
Orlando went 4-for-4 and scored a run in Thursday's loss to the Twins. Orlando is trying to finish the season over .300. He helped his cause with his third four-hit performance of the year, raising his average to .307. Orlando doubled and scored in the second, doubled in the third and singled in the sixth and the eighth. The outfielder's sophomore campaign (.307/.335/.410) has been a surprisingly large improvement from his rookie season (.249/.269/.444).
Orlando went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and two steals in Sunday's win over the Tigers. He's finishing out the season in style, hitting .370 (10-for-27) over his last seven games with a home run, seven runs scored and four RBI plus Sunday's steals. The Royals have some decision to make about their outfield in the offseason, but Orlando has put himself firmly in line for a full-time starting job in 2017.
Orlando went 2-for-5 with a game-tying two-RBI double and run in Saturday's 7-4 victory over the Tigers. The leadoff man kick-started what was a comeback of unlikely proportions, knocking in Alex Gordon and pinch-runner Terrance Gore with a two-out double to deep center in the ninth off normally reliable closer Francisco Rodriguez to knot the score at 4-4 . He later came home on Eric Hosmer's go-ahead three-run blast later in the inning, completing a five-run ninth. Orlando has now hit safely in five of his last six and has contributed three RBI over the first two games of the series versus the Tigers.
Orlando is not in the lineup Friday against the White Sox, Josh Vernier of 610 KCSP reports. Orlando has assumed most of the right field work since Lorenzo Cain (wrist) went out of commission, but he's been scuffling at the plate as of late, with his batting average over the past 30 games dipping below the Mendoza Line. The 30-year-old will get the night off in favor of Hunter Dozier in right field.