There was a time when starting pitching became synonymous with the Baltimore Orioles. Earl Weaver used to preach about good pitching, and the three-run homer would take you far.
The Orioles road that mantra threw the 70’s and early 80’s, and to this day they still remain the only team that finished a regular season with four 20-game winning starting pitchers. Most fans call them the glory days, and even the newest fans have heard stories of our great pitching from the past.
Fast forward to today, and there just might be a flux of starting pitching the Orioles’ scouting department and new brass has found to lead us to the next glory days. Mike Elias took over a team with one of the worst and most depleted minor league systems, baron of pitching talent and little hope for front line starters making a push to be one of the top five taking the mound.
Recent fans have questioned the make-up of our current rotation. Lead by unexpected staff ace John “The Businessman” Means, along with talented rookies Bruce Zimmermann and Keegan Akin currently. But what about when Matt Harvey and Jorge López move on? What might our staff be able to build with?
Those who don’t follow our minor league system closely might be missing out, not only on tomorrow, but the future of our arms race right in Charm City, where we have allowed the Baby Birds to develope in the nest.
Currently there at at minimum of nine pitchers who can stake a claim for a start as a three-to-five starter or a key component to a bullpen that is starting to get its talent back. We know the main Baby Birds of Grayson Rodriguez and D.L. Hall. Both players currently are in Double-A Bowie with a combined record of 6-0 and an ERA around 3.00. To add to those numbers, both have pitched 27 innings and have 48 and 46 strikeouts respectively.
There is a flux of seven more pitchers throwing between Double and Triple- A, who are staking claims to either make their debut this season or factor into the discussion for 2022 or beyond.
- Cameron Bishop: AA Bowie, currently 2-0 with 26 strikeouts in 20 innings of work
- Kyle Brandish: AAA Norfolk, 2-0, 1.00 ERA with 43 strikeouts in 27 innings of work
- Cody Sedlock: AA Bowie 0-0 (3 starts), 3.94 ERA, 15 strikeouts in 16 innings of work
- Kevin Smith: AA Bowie 0-0 (4 starts), 0.86 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 21 innings pitched
- Ofelky Peralta: (signed from Dominican at age 16), 2-0, 1.42 ERA with 26 strikeouts in 19 innings
- Gray Fenter: AA Bowie, 2-2, 4.36 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 20 innings
- Blaine Knight: AA Bowie, 1-1, 2.55 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 24 innings
Adding in Hall and Rodriguez, these nine pitchers have gone a combined 13-2 with an ERA in the 2.50 range. Adding to those impressive numbers, they have combined for 271 strikeouts in 203 innings in less than half a season. This is what happens when you allow prospects to grow, learn, and move through a system that used to rush their pitchers to The Show.
Any fan watching the O’s right now is hungry for success, and looking at our minors system, you can’t argue that it doesn’t appear on the horizon. Does their early success mean guaranteed World Series and Division Crowns? Only time can tell, but the prospect of these Baby Birds leading our pipeline to depths we haven’t seen in decades has to make our feathers stand up.
Tomorrow hasn’t come as of yet, but today shows what the future could be. And that is pitching that leads our team to glory once again!