The Baltimore Orioles are in a rebuild, and the fans, like us, are well aware of this. While the win-loss numbers might not be pretty this year, there are a number of prospects with very exciting futures. Some of the names that give Baltimore fans hope are Adley Rutschman, Ryan Mountcastle, Austin Hays, Yusniel Diaz, etc.
But where is the love for the pitchers?
Here are seven pitchers to look out for this season, who will be putting up numbers at Camden Yards and across the Orioles’ farm system!
It can be said that John Means was the biggest surprise of the 2019 season, as well as the Orioles’ best pitcher. The 26-year-old came into the season as a question mark to make the roster, yet he finished 2019 as an All-Star and placed second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting.
Means finished with a 12-11 record, 3.60 ERA, and 121 strikeouts in 31 starts last season. Likely to be the team’s Opening Day starter, Means will have the pressure of leading Baltimore’s rotation and improving upon his excellent 2019 season.
Hunter Harvey is every Oriole fan’s favorite mullet-sporting pitcher of all time. The 25-year-old from North Carolina was a big-name pitching prospect in the pre-Elias era.
Harvey has been effectively moving his way up the farm system since being drafted 22nd overall in 2013 and made his Orioles debut in 2019. He made seven appearances and recorded one win, a 1.42 ERA, and 11 strikeouts in 6.1 innings pitched.
Harvey has pitched three scoreless innings so far in spring training and looks to have a definite spot in Baltimore’s bullpen on Opening Day.
The big opportunity for Harvey could be the opening at the closer position. While the O’s might not consistently be in a position for saves this year, Harvey might be the most consistent pitcher to close games.
If given the chance, I think Harvey could be a really solid closer for an Orioles team that is desperate for consistency coming out of the pen this year.
Tom Eshelman is a newer name to the Orioles’ roster after coming over in a trade with Philadelphia last season.
Eshelman went 2-1 through six starts, with a 4.70 ERA and 28 strikeouts. The 25-year-old righty has been phenomenal in spring training, as he has recorded the most innings out of any Baltimore pitcher, gone 1-0 in two starts, allowed only four hits, and struck out six.
Eshelman may be up and down from Norfolk this coming season, but Baltimore will likely give him a number of chances to start, as well as come out of the pen at Camden Yards in 2020.
Keegan Akin, 24-year-old starter from Western Michigan, has quickly risen through the Orioles’ farm system in his pro career.
Starting in Aberdeen, Akin moved up a minor league level every season and eventually started 24 games last season in Triple-A Norfolk. He recorded a 6-7 record, with a 4.73 ERA and 131 strikeouts last season and has been solid in spring ball so far.
In 6.2 innings pitched, he has gone 1-0, despite a 6.75 ERA. Akin is a potential back-end rotation starter, who could be called upon this season, as the Orioles look to solidify a starting rotation moving forward.
Cole Sulser is another new name getting reps in spring training, who could be a surprise roster spot when the season starts.
The 29-year-old reliever has come out of the pen in five games so far, pitched 4.2 innings, allowed just a 1.93 ERA, and struck out eight batters.
If Sulser can continue to play at this impressive level, he could add a much needed reliable arm out of the bullpen for the Orioles this season.
Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall
Ranked No. 2 and No. 3 on the Orioles’ top prospects list, Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall will be pitchers to watch, as they continue to progress in the minor leagues.
While they will not be in Baltimore any time soon, these are two star-prospect pitchers that O’s fans are very excited about.
Hall went 4-5 with a 3.46 ERA and 116 strikeouts through 80.2 innings in Frederick last season. The former first round pick has a dominant fastball and is progressing his curveball that is already above average for his stage of development.
Rodriguez was a stud in 2019, going 10-4 in 20 starts with Delmarva. In 94 innings, he pitched a 2.68 ERA and struck out 129 batters. The Orioles’ top pitching prospect can reach the upper 90s on his fastball and has a dazzling slider. It goes without say that Rodriguez is worth keeping an eye on this season to see if he continues to dominate at the minor league level.
What pitcher has stood out to you thus far in spring? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to follow The Baltimore Battery on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!