SARASOTA, Fla. — Orioles manager Brandon Hyde raised his eyebrows as he asked how many players were left in camp.

“There’s 50 people left in camp?” he replied, when told the answer. Then he took a deep breath. “We have a long way to go.”

There are 12 days to go until opening day, and the Orioles will have tough decisions to make as camp winds down next weekend.

Here are players who helped their cases this week.

Right fielder Heston Kjerstad high-fives teammates in the dugout after scoring a run. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

Heston Kjerstad

Kjerstad ended last season on the major league roster, but he faces stiff competition from Colton Cowser, Kyle Stowers and Ryan McKenna. Kjerstad didn’t do himself any favors in the first few weeks of camp, but the Orioles’ No. 5 prospect has picked it up recently.

He’s hitting .292 in March, including a pair of two-hit days. Although his bat is the most important part of his game, his defensive improvements may secure his spot on the major league roster. It was his main focus over the offseason, and he’s split time between left and right fields this spring.

“Honestly, just being prepared,” Kjerstad said of his development in the field. “Every game day, getting my work in early and being ready. Being locked in every pitch, any ball hit taking good routes, good first steps and just playing hard.”

Reliever Nick Vespi can pitch more than an inning at a time, and that could give him an edge. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

Nick Vespi

The Orioles are trying to figure out if they can afford to dedicate a bullpen spot to a true one-inning reliever. If they can’t, they will be looking for players who can handle multiple frames.

Vespi may just fit the bill. He threw two scoreless innings Thursday, striking out one. He’s been working on a new two-seamer to use against left-handed hitters, in addition to his four-seam fastball, cutter and slider against righties.

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“His strike-throwing ability, the way he can go multiple innings, the way he can get right-handers out,” Hyde said. “We are going to keep giving him a look.”

Infielder Connor Norby has made good use of limited opportunities during spring training. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

Connor Norby

Norby’s path to the majors is difficult. He mainly plays second, a spot Jackson Holliday is expected to take this season. Norby, though, and his bat may give the team no choice but to find him a spot at some point.

He got into game action late because of side soreness, but he’s made the most of his limited time. He’s hit .429 in 14 at-bats with two extra-base hits.

“I think he can really hit,” Hyde said. “I love the way he drives the ball to right-center. He’s a really, really confident hitter. He has power potential, he covers the plate and he loves to hit. I think he’s going to be a really good major league bat.”

Reliever Keegan Akin added two scoreless appearances this week, keeping his spring ERA at 0.00. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

Keegan Akin

Akin played in only 24 major league games last season, a back injury impacting his performance. The left-hander says he’s healthy now, and the way he’s pitching this spring may land him an extended stay in Baltimore.

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Akin has yet to allow a run, adding two more shutout performances to his resume this week. He also has an option, which allows the Orioles roster flexibility.

Second baseman Jackson Holliday continued hitting this week and showed defensive prowess too. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

Jackson Holliday

What more does Holliday need to do to make this roster? Well, how about a grand slam and another stellar week of defense?

Holliday hit the grand slam Sunday and added three more hits this week. He also was challenged for the first time at second — a position he’s still learning — and showed an adept ability to handle it while turning a double play Wednesday.

“That was nice to see Jackson; we haven’t seen many plays where he’s had to range and make some plays,” Hyde said.

Danielle Allentuck covers the Orioles for The Baltimore Banner. She previously reported on the Rockies for the Denver Gazette and general sports assignments for The New York Times as part of its fellowship program. A Maryland native, Danielle grew up in Montgomery County and graduated from Ithaca College.

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