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Orioles place left-handed reliever Wright on DL

Posted on 11 April 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Faced with a crowded bullpen to begin the 2015 season, the Orioles will now have that problem alleviated in a way they didn’t anticipate.

Left-handed pitcher Wesley Wright has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left trapezius strain. The reliever disclosed the injury after pitching 1 1/3 innings in Friday’s 12-5 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.

“After we see the [doctor], we’ll know what the next step will be,” said Wright, who revealed Friday that he’s been dealing with the issue for a few days. “I’m hoping that it’s something that can get taken care of kind of quickly and hopefully I can be back on the field soon. It wasn’t worse, so I’ll take that aspect of it. I knew the way I felt yesterday, it was going to take something dramatic for me to feel a lot better this morning. When I woke up, I felt basically the same.”

In two appearances, Wright has allowed one earned run and two hits in 1 2/3 innings with his new club.

It remains unclear how long Wright will be sidelined, but the Orioles recalled pitcher Eddie Gamboa from Triple-A Norfolk to take his place in the bullpen just in time for Saturday’s game. Outfielder David Lough (hamstring) is expected to be activated from the DL in the coming days, but the Orioles intend to send him on a brief minor-league rehab assignment with Single-A Frederick beginning Sunday.

Unlike other options on the 40-man roster who had pitched in the last day or two, Gamboa is fresh and can provide the Orioles with length in the bullpen for however long he remains in Baltimore. The 30-year-old knuckleballer is scheduled to start for the Tides on Monday, but that will depend on whether manager Buck Showalter will need to use him over the next couple days.

In 2014, Gamboa went a combined 5-7 with a 3.81 ERA in 108 2/3 innings split between Norfolk and Double-A Bowie. He has never appeared in the majors in his seven-year professional career.

Left-handed pitcher T.J. McFarland could have been recalled as he was the scheduled starter for Norfolk on Saturday, but the Orioles prefer giving him some regular work in Triple A to begin the season. Right-hander Mike Wright remains on the club’s radar, but he started for Norfolk on Friday and touched 99 miles per hour at one point, according to Showalter.

In other injury-related news, catcher Matt Wieters (elbow tendinitis) took batting practice from both sides of the plate in Sarasota on Saturday. He is expected to throw from 120 feet and catch batting practice on Sunday.

“That was all encouraging to hear,” Showalter said. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow, but that’s kind of moving [forward] a little bit.”

Shortstop J.J. Hardy continues to progress but is feeling slight discomfort in his left shoulder at the very end of his follow through when swinging. Showalter doesn’t want him to be thinking about that when he’s hitting, which means the Orioles won’t rush him to go on a rehab assignment until he’s fully ready.

“I want to get it right the first time. I don’t want him to feel like he has to rush,” Showalter said. “It’s like Matt — I want to get it right the first time and not have to look back and worry about it. But I like where he is with it right now.”

Infielder Jimmy Paredes (lower back) is expected to play in an extended spring training game on Monday. If that goes well, he could go on a minor-league rehab assignment in Frederick next week.

Pitching prospect Hunter Harvey (broken fibula) completed two sets of 25 throws from 60 feet on Saturday. He hasn’t pitched since he was struck in the ankle with a comebacker in minor-league spring training late last month.

Below are Saturday night’s lineups:

TORONTO
SS Jose Reyes
CF Dalton Pompey
RF Jose Bautista
DH Edwin Encarnacion
3B Josh Donaldson
C Russell Martin
1B Justin Smoak
LF Kevin Pillar
2B Devon Travis

SP Aaron Sanchez (2014 stats: 2-2, 1.09 ERA)

BALTIMORE
LF Alejandro De Aza
RF Steve Pearce
1B Chris Davis
CF Adam Jones
DH Travis Snider
3B Manny Machado
2B Jonathan Schoop
SS Everth Cabrera
C Caleb Joseph

SP Ubaldo Jimenez (2014 stats: 6-9, 4.81 ERA)

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Harvey, Alvarez headline list of invitees to Orioles spring training

Posted on 10 February 2015 by Luke Jones

The Orioles released their 2015 spring training roster on Tuesday with a group of 15 non-roster invitees headlined by pitching prospect Hunter Harvey and Cuban outfielder Dariel Alvarez.

Harvey, the club’s first-round pick of the 2013 draft, received a clean bill of health early in the offseason after his first full professional season was cut short by a flexor mass strain in late July. He went 7-5 with a 3.18 ERA and 106 strikeouts in 87 2/3 innings for Single-A Delmarva last season.

Alvarez, 26, has been hyped by members of the organization this offseason in regards to his tremendous throwing arm in the outfield as well as the ability he showed at the plate last year. In 564 plate appearances split between Triple-A Norfolk and Double-A Bowie, Alvarez batted .306 with 55 extra-base hits.

Other familiar names among the non-roster invitees include the 40-year-old lefty reliever Mark Hendrickson, former Toronto and Texas catcher J.P. Arencibia, and outfielder Nolan Reimold, whose minor-league deal was officially announced Monday. Baltimore native and St. Paul’s product Steve Johnson was also invited to spring training after the 27-year-old right-hander re-signed a minor-league deal with the Orioles last month.

Notable absences from the group of non-roster invitees include pitcher Suk-min Yoon and outfielder Mike Yastrzemski, who advanced all the way to Double-A Bowie last season. Manager Buck Showalter told reporters in Sarasota last month that Yoon would not be invited to big-league camp.

On a personal note, it’s impossible not to think of this movie clip when the list of non-roster invitees is released every winter:

With first baseman Chris Davis allowed to play in spring contests despite having one game remaining on his 25-game ban for Adderall use, the Orioles are technically carrying 41 players on their 40-man roster this spring.

Pitcher and catchers will report to Sarasota on Feb. 19 while full-squad workouts begin on Feb. 25.

Below is the entire 2015 spring training roster:

40-MAN ROSTER

PITCHERS (22)
73 Tim Berry (L)
35 Brad Brach
53 Zach Britton (L)
49 Dylan Bundy
16 Wei-Yin Chen (L)
71 Oliver Drake
68 Eddie Gamboa
61 Jason Garcia (Rule 5 selection)
39 Kevin Gausman
50 Miguel Gonzalez
29 Tommy Hunter
31 Ubaldo Jimenez
17 Brian Matusz (L)
66 T.J. McFarland (L)
25 Bud Norris
56 Darren O’Day
30 Chris Tillman
64 Logan Verrett (Rule 5 selection)
58 Ryan Webb
63 Tyler Wilson
59 Mike Wright
40 Wesley Wright (L)

CATCHERS (3)
45 Steve Clevenger
36 Caleb Joseph
32 Matt Wieters

INFIELDERS (7+1)
19 Chris Davis (does not count toward 40-man limit)
3 Ryan Flaherty
2 J.J. Hardy
13 Manny Machado
43 Rey Navarro
38 Jimmy Paredes
6 Jonathan Schoop
18 Christian Walker

OUTFIELDERS (8)
12 Alejandro De Aza
57 Alex Hassan
10 Adam Jones
9 David Lough
28 Steve Pearce
23 Travis Snider
51 Henry Urrutia
27 Delmon Young

NON-ROSTER INVITEES

PITCHERS (6)
70 Dane De La Rosa
62 Hunter Harvey
34 Mark Hendrickson (L)
52 Steve Johnson
75 Chris Jones (L)
65 Chaz Roe

CATCHERS (3)
15 J.P. Arencibia
60 Ryan Lavarnway
74 Brian Ward

INFIELDERS (3)
67 Michael Almanzar
1 Paul Janish
41 Chris Parmelee

OUTFIELDERS (3)
79 Dariel Alvarez
14 Nolan Reimold
48 Matt Tuiasosopo

 

MANAGER/COACHES
26 Buck Showalter (manager)
54 Dom Chiti (bullpen)
47 Scott Coolbaugh (hitting)
55 Einar Diaz (assistant hitting)
11 Bobby Dickerson (third-base coach)
24 Wayne Kirby (first-base coach)
77 John Russell (bench)
37 Dave Wallace (pitching)

ADDITIONAL SPRING STAFF
9 Brady Anderson
72 Rudy Arias
85 Sean Berry
14 Mike Bordick
88 Kevin Bradshaw
83 Scott Beerer
76 Brian Graham
91 Mike Griffin
81 Jose Hernandez
89 Miguel Jabalera
86 Ron Johnson
78 Gary Kendall
80 Jeff Manto
16 Scott McGregor
84 Alan Mills
87 Rick Peterson
82 Jett Ruiz
17 B.J. Surhoff
90 Don Werner

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Bundy, Harvey headline Orioles’ top 10 prospects list

Posted on 27 October 2014 by Luke Jones

With the 2014 season officially wrapping up in the next few days, Baseball America released the Orioles’ top 10 prospects list Monday with a familiar name once again at the top.

For the third straight year, pitching prospect Dylan Bundy was named the organization’s No. 1 prospect by the publication after the 21-year-old right-hander bounced back from last year’s Tommy John surgery. Bundy made nine starts split between short-season Single-A Aberdeen and Single-A Frederick, going 1-3 with a 3.27 ERA in 41 1/3 innings.

Bundy’s numbers were less impressive at Frederick as he posted a 4.78 ERA in six starts spanning 26 1/3 innings, but the Orioles were encouraged with his overall health despite a minor lat strain that brought his season to an end in mid-August. With a regular offseason ahead of him, Bundy is expected to compete for an opportunity to crack the Orioles’ pitching staff at some point during the 2015 season.

Another pitcher, 2013 first-round pick Hunter Harvey, was ranked as the Orioles’ No. 2 prospect after an impressive season at Single-A Delmarva in which he went 7-5 with a 3.18 ERA and 106 strikeouts in 17 starts covering 87 2/3 innings. A flexor mass strain cut the right-hander’s season short, but executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has said the 19-year-old will not need surgery.

After making his major league debut in September, first baseman Christian Walker was the top position player on the Orioles’ list at the third spot and impressed with his 53 extra-base hits split between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk that earned him the organization’s minor league player of the year award. The Orioles still want to see Walker improve more defensively, but his strides in 2014 have made him a candidate to potentially take over for Chris Davis if the first baseman departs as a free agent after next season.

Catcher Chance Sisco and outfielder Dariel Alvarez rounded out the top five as Sisco won the South Atlantic League batting title for Delmarva and Alvarez was named to the Futures Game. Alvarez, 25, has a chance to contribute for the Orioles in 2015 as he possesses strong defensive skills and stroked 55 extra-base hits split between Bowie and Norfolk this past season.

Below is the Orioles’ top 10 list released by Baseball America with the affiliate to which they’re projected to be assigned for the start of 2015:

1. RHP Dylan Bundy – Double-A Bowie
2. RHP Hunter Harvey – Single-A Frederick
3. 1B Christian Walker – Triple-A Norfolk
4. C Chance Sisco – Single-A Frederick
5. OF Dariel Alvarez – Triple-A Norfolk
6. RHP Zach Davies – Triple-A Norfolk
7. LHP Tim Berry – Triple-A Norfolk
8. RHP Mike Wright – Triple-A Norfolk
9. OF Mike Yastrzemski – Double-A Bowie
10. INF Jomar Reyes – Single-A Delmarva

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Orioles pitching prospect Harvey done for season with elbow injury

Posted on 30 July 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Orioles received bad news about one of their top pitching prospects Wednesday as 19-year-old Hunter Harvey will be shut down for the rest of the season due to right elbow inflammation and a flexor mass strain.

The 2013 first-round pick went 7-5 with a 3.18 ERA in 17 starts covering 87 2/3 innings this season, earning an invitation to the Futures Game during All-Star weekend in Minnesota earlier this month. The right-hander last pitched on June 25 when he allowed four earned runs and eight hits over five innings but had allowed three or fewer earned runs in each of his previous four starts.

“Hunter saw our doctors [Tuesday], and he has an issue with his elbow, so he won’t be pitching anymore the rest of the season,” executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said Wednesday at Camden Yards. “I need to learn a little more about it. He’s had a good year, and he has distinguished himself as a top young pitcher. And he needs a rest period.”

Duquette added that the injury is not believed to require surgery at this time. The structure of Harvey’s ulnar collateral ligament is supposedly sound, but fellow top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy was given the same initial diagnosis last year before ultimately needing Tommy John surgery when a period of rest did not produce the desired healing.

Taken with the 22nd overall pick of last year’s draft, Harvey saw his stock soaring this season and was named the No. 13 prospect in all of baseball by ESPN’s Keith Law earlier this month. The North Carolina native is the son of former major league closer Bryan Harvey.

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Duquette dismisses report of Orioles closing in on Lester trade

Posted on 30 July 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Addressing a flurry of trade rumors centering around the Orioles targeting Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester on Wednesday afternoon, Dan Duquette did his best to throw a blanket on the fire.

The executive vice president of baseball operations reiterated his long-held position of not wanting to deal the organization’s top pitching prospects and dismissed reports that the Orioles were closing in on a deal for the three-time All-Star hurler.

“Well, that would be news to me,” said Duquette, who acknowledged an obvious interest in adding a top-of-the-rotation pitcher if possible. “Some of the long-term prospects for our pitching are very valuable to the long-term sustainability of the organization, and I think that’s a real important component to have a good team year in and year out. I think if we were to err with our young pitchers, we would be conservative and we’d try to give them a long trial in the big leagues before trading them.”

Duquette said Tuesday he was focused on adding depth to the rotation rather than making a blockbuster move, making it unlikely the Orioles would pull the trigger on a deal for Lester that would involve Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, or Hunter Harvey. Of course, Wednesday’s news of Harvey being shut down for the rest of the season due to right elbow inflammation and a flexor mass strain further diminished the likelihood of the Orioles moving a top prospect.

Lester was scratched for his scheduled start against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday as several teams remain interested in his services. A free agent at the end of the season, the lefty is 10-7 with a 2.52 ERA in 21 starts spanning 143 innings this year.

Multiple reports have stated the Orioles are interested in Chicago Cubs utility player Emilio Bonifacio, who has played center field as well as three infield spots this season. The switch-hitting 29-year-old is hitting .279 with two home runs, 18 RBIs, and 14 stolen bases and has posted a 1.024 on-base plus slugging percentage against left-handed pitching this season.

Baltimore also remains interested in adding another late-inning reliever to its bullpen for the stretch run.

“We’re still talking to a number of teams,” Duquette said. “We have not consummated a deal yet, but we’re talking to a couple of teams. We hope we’ll be able to add some people to our organization.”

 

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Glenn’s Drew’s Morning Dish: I probably shouldn’t, but I’d support bold Lester trade

Posted on 29 July 2014 by Glenn Clark

Drew’s Morning Dish is brought to you every day by Koons Baltimore Ford. Since they didn’t tell me otherwise Monday, I’ll assume Glenn’s Drew’s Morning Dish is also brought to you today by Koons Baltimore Ford-where I have bought something like five cars at this point.

I assume a good bit of Tuesday’s “D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction” will surround the reaction Ray Rice received Monday night at the Ravens’ M&T Bank Stadium practice. I’ll make time for that conversation throughout the show-but more importantly I’ll note here I was pleased to not see the Ravens running back utilize his “flex” celebration at any point during the evening.

The “other” big story Tuesday will be the news that the Baltimore Orioles have contacted the Boston Red Sox about the potential to acquire starting pitcher Jon Lester. The news was reported by Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi and IMMEDIATELY becomes the most interesting trade target of the season (or at least since they were talking to the Chicago Cubs about Jeff Samardzija before the Oakland deal).

Unlike the other two starting pitchers the Birds have been positively connected to in the past week (AJ Burnett and Jorge De La Rosa), Lester represents something important-an actual upgrade. While the others would simply fall into the group of slightly above average starters the O’s already have five (six if you choose to count $50 million man Ubaldo Jimenez) of, the veteran left hander would immediately move to the top of the Baltimore rotation and would be slated to start Game 1 of a potential playoff series.

Lester has had an outstanding career including two World Series titles-but his 2014 season is shaping up to be his best. As he heads toward free agency, the 30 year old is 10-7 with a dazzling 2.52 ERA and sparkling 1.11 WHIP over 21 starts. It is logical that the Red Sox are listening to trade offers for him (and reportedly John Lackey as well) after dealing Jake Peavy to San Francisco over the weekend. After suffering a blowout loss Monday night, the Sox fell to 48-58 on the season and are 11 games back of the Orioles in last place in the AL East.

With free agency looming for the Red Sox, they find themselves in the enviable position of being able to potentially acquire young talent in exchange for Lester before Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline and then ultimately end up re-signing him anyway during the offseason. The Orioles have done this in the past with SS Mike Bordick (netting them likely future team Hall of Famer Melvin Mora) and pitcher Sidney Ponson (netting them…nothing really).

It’s possible that as we near the deadline, the Sox could find themselves a little more willing to sell low knowing Lester can’t really help them the rest of the season. The more likely scenario is that the team will have no shortage of suitors and will be looking for even more to be willing to deal the three time All-Star within the division.

For the Orioles, a move to rent Lester could cost a package centered around top pitching prospects Dylan Bundy and/or Hunter Harvey. The most likely scenario would be that the team would not retain him moving forward and he would depart to a higher paying suitor (perhaps a return to Beantown) after the season.

So the question becomes simple-is it worth giving up a former first round pick (or more) to add one pitcher for the next two months.

My answer is that it might well be.

Like everyone else in this business, I can’t see the future. Perhaps the gal with three nipples from the movie “Mallrats” could tell us more about what Bundy/Harvey/Eduardo Rodriguez/Christian Walker/Dariel Alvarez/etc. are going to be in the future and what Lester will do for the next couple of months if he changes addresses. I can’t give you those answers. I can only tell you I’d be willing to take the risk.

(For the record, I wouldn’t even discuss Kevin Gausman in any trade. He’s far too important to the team’s chances of winning now. I would struggle to part with both Bundy and Harvey in a Lester trade and probably WOULDN’T be able to pull the trigger.)

Lester is the perfect prize to receive if you’re taking a chance at a World Series championship. He’s not in the middle of a disappointing season. There are no doubts about his ability to pitch against American League competition or in AL East ballparks. There are no doubts about how he’d handle high-pressure starts late in the season or potentially in the postseason.

He’s nothing more than an opportunity to put a historically good lefty at the top of your rotation as you try to separate yourself in a division that isn’t going quitting (the Blue Jays pulled to within 2.5 games by beating Boston Monday night). He further represents an opportunity to better set up against the likes of the Athletics, Tigers and Angels in a potential playoff series.

It comes with a hefty price and may or may not truly be realistic, but Lester is exactly what the O’s need at this point to truly bolster themselves for a playoff run.

I don’t know how we’d view a deal like this in five years, but for Tuesday-it’s a deal I’d be willing to make.

-G

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Orioles prospect Harvey tosses scoreless frame to help US win Futures Game

Posted on 14 July 2014 by WNST Staff

By DAVE CAMPBELL AP Sports Writer

Joey Gallo let loose his powerful left-handed swing on a too-good-to-pass-up pitch over the plate, producing a soaring two-run homer to give his team the lead for good.

The real damage was done during batting practice, though, before the All-Star Futures game. One of Gallo’s head-turning drives in warmups whacked the top of the windshield of a promotional pickup truck parked on the concourse beyond right field.

The glass was shattered.

Soon, if Gallo continues his trajectory toward the Texas Rangers, the 20-year-old third baseman will be able to make his mark on the majors.

Gallo was picked as the MVP of the annual showcase for baseball’s best minor leaguers, for his long ball in the sixth inning that sent the U.S. team to a 3-2 victory over the World squad on Sunday afternoon.

“This one’s definitely the most memorable,” said Gallo, the assumed successor for four-time All-Star Adrian Beltre with the Rangers.

Gallo, currently with Double-A Frisco, has 31 homers and 73 RBIs this season in 85 games. This one-out drive on a 2-0 pitch from Houston Astros right-hander Michael Feliz was estimated at 419 feet.

“Good pitch for him. This guy has really good power,” Feliz said.

That was evident before the game. Gallo, who grew up in Las Vegas, had his parents here to watch. His mother even sent him a picture, with her posing next to the damaged vehicle. He got an even better message after hitting the real home run, from offseason workout partner Troy Tulowitzki, the captain of the National League team in the home run derby Monday night.

“He was telling me I should hit for him,” Gallo said. “I was like, ‘Aw, I wish I could, man. That’d be a lot of fun.’ Obviously I can’t do that.”

Someday.

Gallo followed a two-run homer in the top of the sixth by Javier Baez against Washington Nationals right-hander Lucas Giolito.

With so many bad teams in recent seasons, the Chicago Cubs have been collecting a tantalizing bunch of potential stars, with Baez and Kris Bryant at the top of the list. Baez, the ninth overall pick in the 2011 draft, and Bryant, the second selection in 2013, comprise the left side of the infield for Triple-A affiliate Iowa.

So when Baez rounded the bases, he jogged past his buddy Bryant.

“I just said, ‘You’ve got to save those for the season,'” Bryant said.

Baez pointed at his family members, seated near third base, as he headed for home.

“I feel good that I showed what I can do,” he said.

Bryant went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts while playing third base for the U.S team, which has won five straight Futures games and raised its record to 10-6 since the exhibition began in 1999.

Until the Baez-Gallo home run derby that broke out in the sixth, this was much more of a showcase of pitching prospects, mirroring the major league trend toward more dominance on the mound and shrinking slugging percentages.

The first five U.S. pitchers tossed scoreless innings, starting with Henry Owens, the Double-A lefty for the Boston Red Sox.

Minnesota Twins right-hander Alex Meyer, who could soon be pitching on the same mound for the big league team, needed only four pitches for the fourth. His fastball reached 97 mph.

Meyer, acquired from the Nationals in a trade for center fielder Denard Span, has 103 strikeouts in 89-plus innings for Triple-A Rochester.

World team starter Jose Berrios, another Twins prospect, taken with the 32nd overall pick in the 2012 draft, struck out center fielder Michael Taylor of the Nationals to start the game and pitched a 1-2-3 inning.

Julio Urias, a native of Sinaloa, Mexico, currently at Class A Rancho Cucamonga for the Los Angeles Dodgers, was the youngest player on display at age 17. He struck out Taylor with a 94 mph fastball in a perfect fifth inning.

New York Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard, who started the game last year at his future home, Citi Field, got the save.

Twins fans in attendance also had World team first baseman Kennys Vargas to cheer, the David Ortiz clone who hit a double in four at-bats in the cleanup spot.

The U.S. team was supervised by former Twins manager Tom Kelly, currently a special instructor for the organization. Hall of Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven, who played for Kelly on the 1987 World Series-winning club, managed the World team.

In an ode to his Dutch heritage and class-clown personality, Blyleven presented the lineups before the game while wearing an oversized pair of yellow wooden shoes.

(Former Orioles first round pick Hunter Harvey struck out two batters while allowing a walk and a hit in a scoreless fourth inning for the U.S. side. Bowie Baysox OF Dariel Alvarez went 0-2 for the World team.)

 

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Yastrzemski hits for cycle to headline Orioles minor league recap – 7/5

Posted on 05 July 2014 by WNST Staff

Here’s what happened down in the Orioles’ farm system on Saturday…

-Catcher Steve Clevenger and Shortstop Jemile Weeks recorded two hits each, but the AAA Norfolk Tides fell 6-3 to Charlotte. Starter Nick Additon struggled, allowing four earned runs (eight hits, walk) over just 4.1 innings pitched. Evan Meek worked a scoreless inning in relief.

-Slugging first base prospect Christian Walker clubbed his 20th home run of the season for the AA Bowie Baysox in a 7-1 win over Akron. Leftfielder John Ruettiger added three hits (including a double) and scored three runs in the win.

-Centerfielder Mike Yastrzemski was the star of the night on the farm, becoming the first Frederick Keys player to hit for the cycle since 2005 as the high Single A team beat Lynchburg 17-3. The grandson of Red Sox Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski collected a second double, scored three runs and drove in five in the victory. Leftfielder Michael Burgess crushed two homers in the win as well.

-Preparing to represent the Orioles in the MLB All-Star Futures Game, pitcher Hunter Harvey was strong again as the Single A Delmarva Shorebirds topped Lakewood 6-3. The former first round pick allowed just one earned run on five hits (three walks) and struck out eight over six innings for his sixth win of the season.

-Notre Dame basketball player Patrick Connaughton worked two perfect innings in his second career start as the rookie level Single A Aberdeen Ironbirds beat Brooklyn 18-2. First baseman Riley Palmer was just a home run short of a cycle himself, hitting three doubles, scoring three runs and adding three RBI in the win.

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Orioles prospects Harvey, Alvarez named to 2014 Futures Game

Posted on 24 June 2014 by Luke Jones

Two Orioles prospects were named to the 2014 All-Star Futures Game as pitcher Hunter Harvey and outfielder Dariel Alvarez were invited to Target Field in Minnesota on Tuesday.

The 19-year-old Harvey was the 22nd overall pick of the 2013 draft and has quickly turned heads in his professional career as he’s posted a 4-4 record with a 2.98 ERA in 13 starts spanning 66 1/3 innings for Single-A Delmarva this season. The right-hander and son of former major league closer Bryan Harvey has struck out 76 batters and walked 28 in his first full season of professional baseball.

Harvey sports a fastball that averages in the low-to-mid 90s and a plus curveball at this early stage of his development.

Meanwhile, the right-handed Alvarez has hit .308 with 12 home runs and 57 RBIs for Double-A Bowie in his first full season with the Orioles. The Cuban outfielder is 25 and was reportedly awarded an $800,000 signing bonus last summer after he defected from Cuba and spent time playing professionally in Mexico.

The Futures Game will take place on July 13 with Harvey playing for the United States team and Alvarez joining the World roster.

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Buying high on Samardzija unlikely to bring desired payoff

Posted on 28 May 2014 by Luke Jones

The Orioles need better starting pitching and they need an ace if they truly want to compete for a World Series title.

That cry has been uttered by fans and media alike for the better part of two years — even longer if you prefer going back to the free-agent departure of Mike Mussina after the 2000 season — as the rotation has mostly been comprised of arms with the ability of No. 3, No. 4, and No. 5 starters who have often struggled to pitch deep into games, leaving the bullpen overworked and eventually worn out.

It comes as no surprise to see the reaction to a CBS Chicago report suggesting the Orioles are the “leading team of interest” in Cubs starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija, who currently sports a miniscule 1.68 earned run average through his first 11 starts of the 2014 season. That mark is second in the majors despite the 29-year-old being limited to a 1-4 record pitching for the woeful Cubs.

There’s no disputing Samardzija being a talented pitcher as he would be a clear upgrade in the starting rotation, but he’s also expected to be one of the top commodities available on the open market this summer. And that’s why it’s a dangerous proposition to bid on a solid pitcher who’s having a career season if you’re the Orioles or any club hot after his services.

As desperate as the Orioles should be for better starting pitching with their best competitive window closing after the 2015 season when Matt Wieters and Chris Davis are both scheduled to become free agents, Samardzija needs to be viewed for who he really is and not what the Orioles want him to be. The right-hander is off to an unbelievable start, but his 3.90 career ERA and 4.34 ERA pitching in the National League Central only last year suggest he isn’t much more than a solid upgrade and is not someone worth gutting a top-heavy minor-league system to acquire.

In other words, the Orioles wouldn’t be getting a David Price or a Cliff Lee in adding the 6-foot-5 right-hander to the starting rotation. And pitching in the American League East is a different story than the National League.

The Cubs are undoubtedly looking for a king’s ransom in exchange for Samardzija’s services, and there will be plenty of clubs looking to acquire him, which will further drive up the price. Should the Orioles be willing to part with some combination of top pitching prospects Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Hunter Harvey, and Eduardo Rodriguez in order to land him?

It’s true that the Orioles have far too often been disappointed in waiting for a slew of top prospects to realize their potential in recent years, but that doesn’t mean executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette should willingly fork over what few minor-league pieces he has for what history suggests is an improvement but not a dynamic difference-maker to put the Orioles over the top. It will ultimately come down to Chicago’s asking price and how many teams are sold on Samardzija’s start in 2014 and the idea of him truly being an ace.

Is Samardzija — who is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season — worth the combination of Rodriguez and 21-year-old second baseman Jonathan Schoop or the package of one of Gausman, Bundy, or Harvey and a lower-level prospect? Perhaps, but if other clubs are willing to exceed that kind of a deal, the Orioles must remember that Samardzija’s 66 career starts prior to 2014 suggest he’s not even as good as Ubaldo Jimenez.

Despite his tiny ERA, Samardzija is averaging 7.7 strikeouts per nine innings in 2014 — actually down from his career average of 8.5 — and a .269 batting average on balls in play against him provides statistical evidence suggesting he won’t sustain his incredible start, which even the layman would predict anyway.

It’s a difficult call as the Orioles appeared to signal during spring training that they’re finally “going for it” after investing $50 million in Jimenez and signing slugger Nelson Cruz to a one-year, $8 million contract. Throwing money at free-agent commodities is one thing, but giving up young and cheap talent in a farm system needing more depth is a dangerous proposition if you’re not overwhelmed with what you’re getting in return.

The Orioles know their best window for competing is closing with Cruz, J.J. Hardy, and Nick Markakis set to become free agents after this season and Davis and Wieters the year after. If there were ever a time for the Orioles to pull the trigger on a blockbuster deal, it’s now, particularly with the AL East looking very average.

But is the Chicago pitcher the right target?

Samardzija would improve the rotation, but whether the Orioles would be so much better with him that Duquette should pony up a couple of his top pitching prospects is open for debate.

And the history before the first two months of 2014 suggests the answer is probably not.

 

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