Coming in at No. 26 on the Orioles’ prospect rankings and The Baltimore Battery Prospect Profiles countdown is 25-year-old rightie pitcher, Dillon Tate. The former No. 4 overall pick in the 2015 draft is an interesting player that has regressed from his status as a top prospect but still has the intangibles to make it into the Orioles’ rotation.
Here is Tate’s scouting grades:
Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 45 | Overall: 40
Tate was the first pitcher taken off the board in the 2015 draft, after being considered baseball’s top pitching prospect in college at UC Santa Barbara.
After a rough start in the Texas Rangers’ farm system, Tate was traded to the New York Yankees in the summer of 2016 and played in their minor league system until 2018. Tate came over to the Orioles along with prospects Josh Rogers and Cody Carroll in exchange for star reliever Zack Britton.
Tate started seven games in the second half of the 2018 season with the Bowie Baysox and concluded with a 2–3 record and a 5.75 ERA. Overall, Tate was 7–5 with a 4.16 ERA in 2018 and looked to be a promising starting pitching prospect.
Beginning in 2019, Tate was moved to the bullpen as he bounced between three minor league teams, as well as making 16 appearances in Baltimore. After making 17 appearances in Bowie and tallying a 2–3 record with a 3.48 ERA, Tate was called straight up to Baltimore in the dog days of summer.
As the Orioles’ bullpen struggled through the season, Tate was called up to Baltimore out of necessity to make his major league debut on July 29.
Tate pitched in three separate outings and gave up three runs to the San Diego Padres, three runs to th Toronto Blue Jays, and one run to Toronto again. The O’s gave Tate a chance out of the bullpen but sent him down to Norfolk for his first career stint in Triple-A.
I like what I saw from Tate in his limited time in Norfolk last season, coming out of the bullpen four times. He pitched to a 2.00 ERA and went 2–0 in the nine innings he pitched there. He had seven strikeouts in those appearances, a number that is relatively high for him.
Tate was called back up to Baltimore on August 23, and he made 13 more appearances down the stretch, as the Orioles concluded their season. He finished the season with a 0–2 record and a 6.43 ERA in Baltimore. While the numbers aren’t pretty, Tate showed some promising flashes at Camden Yards.
In mid-September, Tate pitched three straight scoreless outings out of the bullpen against the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Detroit Tigers. He did the same later in September against the Seattle Mariners, the Tornto Blue Jays, and the Boston Red Sox. That being said, Tate had a few implosions on the mound, giving up three earned runs against the Rangers and Blue Jays in September.
Looking at Tate’s 2019 season as a whole, I was glad the O’s took a chance and gave him a shot on the major league roster. With a league-worst bullpen and the season nearing its conclusion, why not give a player like Tate a shot in the big leagues? He had an up-and-down season but showed flashes of potential this year.
The big thing for Tate is that his fastball is only up to around the low 90s, while his changeup and slider are still a work in progress. MLB.com grades all three of those pitches as a 55, while his control is a 45, and his overall prospect grade is a 40.
While he had bad showings in Baltimore, he also showed some maturity and quality out of the pen late in the season. Already 25 years old, Tate’s clock is ticking with the Orioles however.
I expect to see Tate get a lot of opportunities in Triple-A Norfolk next year. He will likely start the season there and could really work on his secondary pitches against Triple-A talent. The Orioles threw him in front of the big lights last season, and he played tough and showed why he was once considered a top pitching prospect. That being said, I still think Tate is a year or so away from being a consistent piece of the Orioles’ bullpen.
The 2020 season will give Tate a chance to hopefully succeed and gain confidence in Triple-A, while getting opportunities throughout the season to pitch in Baltimore. I think if all goes well, Tate will never see anything lower than Triple-A next season.
While the Orioles are working to improve their bullpen moving forward, relief pitching is still going to be a weakness for the club next year. That should give Tate plenty of opportunities to work his way into the bullpen and possibly secure a roster spot in Baltimore.
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