Baltimore Orioles: Can Daniel Fajardo Emerge As Bowie’s Primary Man?
As the Baltimore Orioles search for catchers at the major league level, the organization has prospects who are ready to move up into a more expansive role. One prospect has earned a shot at such a role after sharing the catching duties last season in Frederick.
The Baltimore Orioles are currently in search of catching depth at the major league level. There are currently six catchers in Sarasota with one more, Jesus Sucre, hopefully on the way after his visa problems are resolved. The multitude of catchers is necessary first and foremost because there are so many pitchers that need to get their work in and secondly because I am certain the staff led by Mike Elias, Sig Mejdal and Brandon Hyde are hoping to find a nugget among the group.
How this group develops will not only shape the major league roster but will have ripple effects into the minor league system. Which catchers travel north, how many catchers will be released and who will be the catchers in Norfolk (AAA) are questions to be answered. Once those answers are known, the remaining catchers in the system will be assigned.
I am of the opinion that one prospect, Daniel Fajardo, has earned the right to move to Bowie (AA) where he can assume the primary catching duties for the Baysox. I say this because I anticipate Martin Cervenka making the move up to Norfolk this season, after serving as the primary Baysox catcher in 2018.
Fajardo, a native of Maracay, Venezuela, was signed by the Orioles at the age of 16, in August of 2011. He has steadily moved up through the farm system since debuting in the Dominican Summer League (Rookie) in 2012 and subsequently reached Frederick in 2018.
The Keys utilized a three-catcher rotation of Fajardo, Stuart Levy, and Yojhan Quevedo until the July release of Quevedo. Fajardo managed to appear in 63 games (59 behind the plate) for the Keys where he generated a .271/ .303/ .362/ .665 slash line with 25 runs scored and 27 RBI in 207 at-bats. He hit four homeruns among his ten extra-base hits, struck out 24 times and worked pitchers for just 10 walks.
Defensively, Fajardo was a solid presence behind the plate as his .996 fielding percentage demonstrates. He committed just two errors while being charged with four passed balls; he turned five double plays and was credited with 43 defensive assists, as well. He also caught 36.8% of would-be Carolina League base stealers.
More from Birds Watcher
- Baltimore Orioles Sign RP Mychal Givens
- Gunnar Henderson: Destroyer of Four-Seam Fastballs
- Which Current Baltimore Orioles Pitchers Have the Best Curveballs?
- Orioles News: Should the O’s Pursue Eovaldi? + More MLB News
- Should the Baltimore Orioles Consider Signing Nathan Eovaldi?
I saw Fajardo in person several times in 2018 and when I did I saw a catcher who worked well with the pitching staff and was reliable behind the plate. While not a power hitter, he did make solid contact with a .289 BABIP (Batting average on balls put in play). I would like to see him drive more balls up the middle while not being as pull happy (47.3% of his hits were pulled to left field). He has shown the ability to go to the opposite field as well (29.9%).
Having been in the organization for seven years, Fajardo has worked with many of the current pitching prospects and has the experience to help the younger, up-and-coming prospects. He is a perfect candidate to don the tools of ignorance in Bowie. His defense is solid and reliable, traits needed with a pitching staff that is trying to make its mark.
Pairing Fajardo with the pitchers from Frederick who may make the move to Bowie such as Cristian Alvarado, Zac Lowther, Tyler Erwin, and Michael Baumann would pay dividends in their collective development as he provides familiarity and continuity.
He has earned the chance at more playing time, here’s hoping he gets it.