Welcome to the first ever edition of Battery Q&A!
This series is where we answer your questions about all things Orioles! If you have a question and want to be in one of our Q&A articles, message us on our social medias!
Without further ado, let’s get started!
Between Alex Wells, Zac Lowther, and Michael Baumann, who do you think gets called up first? – Question from: Andrew Young
What a great question to start off this new series!
First of all, all three pitchers listed are in Baltimore’s Top 30 Prospects list, according to MLB Pipeline. Baumann leads at No. 9, with Lowther right behind him at No. 10, and Wells at No. 20. But with that being said, neither Wells, Lowther, nor Baumann have pitched at the Triple-A level yet.
Orioles GM, Mike Elias, is known to be patient when it comes to minor league player development, so it’s hard to tell who has the upper hand at this point.
But what was the Orioles’ biggest struggle last season? That would be the bullpen. With no one locked on the 26-man roster, there’s a good possibility that we’ll see all three of these guys at some point.
In my humble opinion, I believe Michael Baumann has a slight advantage above the other two. I mean, the kid threw a no-hitter last year in Double-A Bowie. That will definitely get you noticed.
He also has a plus fastball that can reach up to 97 mph and a power slider that can reach up to 91 mph.
Baumann is also a year older than Wells and Lowther. The 24-year-old, like I said earlier, will begin the year in Norfolk, but don’t be surprised to see him sometime this season.
Pitching always seems to be a recurring problem, so are there any exciting prospects as far as our 2020 pitchers goes? – Question from Kelly Maria Grubb
This question seems to pop up every season for the Orioles.
Because the Orioles are in a rebuilding phase, the level of competition for a rotation or bullpen spot is high. A lot of young arms are fighting for a position on the major league roster, but some still need development at the minor league level.
The two closest pitching prospects to making the big league club are No. 8 overall prospect, right-hander Dean Kremer, and No. 11 overall prospect, left-hander Keegan Akin. Both Akin and Kremer pitched in spring training this year, trying to win a back end rotation spot.
Akin struggled in four games pitched this spring, allowing eight earned runs and recording a 7.45 ERA in 9.2 innings pitched. This is not a good way to make an impression in big league camp.
Due to his spring struggles, Akin was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk, where he will continue to develop his breaking pitches.
Kremer, on the other hand, had an impressive, but small sample of games this spring. Pitching in three games, Kremer allowed just one unearned run, while tallying five strikeouts.
Although this was enough to catch the eye of manager Brandon Hyde, Kremer was sent to minor league camp.
Like Akin, Kremer will start the season in Triple-A Norfolk, but these guys are right on the doorstep to the majors. Don’t be surprised to see both of them making their debuts sometime this season.
Which prospect has the best chance of an immediate impact with the club? – Question from Keith White
With the recent news of No. 4 overall prospect Ryan Mountcastle being optioned to Triple-A Norfolk, there is one prospect who can have a huge impact on the major league club. His name is Austin “Willie Mays” Hays.
Austin Hays, the Orioles’ No. 6 overall prospect, shocked not just Orioles fans, but MLB fans everywhere when he got called up in September. In 21 games, Hays hit .309/.373/.574 with four home runs and 13 RBI, and dominated defensively in center field.
It was safe to say that Hays brought some life to a last place club in a deep rebuild. I mean, who could forget when Hays robbed future star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of a home run with a leaping grab over the center field wall!
Hays has the speed factor and bat-to-ball ability to be a perfect leadoff hitter for the O’s in 2020. If he is in the lineup consistently, be prepared for exciting outfield magic at Camden Yards this season!
That will do it for the first edition of Battery Q&A! If you want to be a part of the next edition, send us your questions via social media! Make sure you follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for all the content you desire!