Baltimore Orioles: Five Prospects Facing Key Seasons In 2019
Would a move to the bullpen be more beneficial for RHP Michael Baumann?
Michael Baumann began 2018 as a nearly un-hittable starter with the full-season Delmarva Shorebirds, before making his final 17 starts of the year with the Frederick Keys, finishing with a 13-5 record and 3.17 ERA between the two levels.
Since my days writing for the now-defunct Baby Birdland, a blog about the Baltimore Orioles’ minor leagues, I’ve been an advocate of moving Baumann to the bullpen. His mid-90s fastball and solid slider would play up in short bullpen stints and his 6’4″ and 225-pound frame can hold up in a long relief role. The move could also increase his dominance against right-handed hitters, something he has had great success with since the Orioles drafted him in 2017.
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There is little doubt that he will pitch in a starting role in 2019, likely returning to Frederick to start the season. If Baumann has a successful spring training, he could begin in Bowie, however, after walking 40 hitters in 92 innings as a member of the Frederick Keys, the Orioles may want to see that he can command the strikezone in the Carolina League before moving him up to the Eastern League.
Both his groundball and strikeout rates dropped significantly in 2018, as his FIP approached 5.00 in High-A (4.71). Baumann will need to turn this around in 2019, if he wants to remain a starter. Although, as I mentioned before, a move to the bullpen could provide a major boost to his career and allow him to move more quickly through the system. As long as the walks decrease, there’s real bullpen potential with Baumann and 2019 will go a long way in telling us more about his future role with the Baltimore Orioles.
What about you, Orioles fans? Which prospects are you watching closely in 2019? Do you think Alex Wells still has starter potential? Does Cameron Bishop peak your interest? Is this the last chance for Hunter Harvey? Let us know below!