It appears that RHP Kieran Lovegrove has joined the Baltimore Orioles organization.
In a move that was unofficially announced on Friday afternoon, it appears the Baltimore Orioles have indeed signed free agent RHP Kieran Lovegrove. Lovegrove was signed by the San Francisco Giants before the 2019 season, but was released after making 15 appearances with their Double-A affiliate, the Richmond Flying Squirrels.
Lovegrove announced his arrival on Twitter, moments ago.
Over the course of those 15 games in Richmond, Lovegrove went 2-2 with an 8.59 ERA, striking out 18 and walking 15 in 19.2 innings. His 2019 numbers aren’t impressive, but looking beyond those numbers you see a pitcher with the possibility of finding a home in the Orioles’ system.
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Lovegrove was a third-round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians as a high school arm. A slow riser through the Cleveland system, Lovegrove didn’t reach Advanced-A ball until 2017, his sixth season with the Indians.
High walk rates followed Lovegrove at each stop up the ladder, but things seemed to click in 2018. In 10 appearances with the Lynchburg Hillcats (Advanced-A affiliate of the Indians), Lovegrove struck out 25 and walked just four hitters across 17.1 innings. He went 3-0 with a 1.56 ERA and didn’t allow a single home run.
His Double-A debut was also impressive. The 6’4″ righty logged 30 games, going 1-0 with a 3.46 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, and held opponents to a .197 average. He made one appearance in AAA with the Columbus Clippers, throwing three shutout innings and allowing just one hit. Overall, Lovegrove put up career-best numbers in WHIP (1.21), average against (.191), and ERA (2.73).
Unfortunately, his breakout season was his last with the Indians. After electing free agency, Lovegrove joined the Giants and was invited to spring training.
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What does Kieran Lovegrove bring to the Baltimore Orioles?
Lovegrove is an exciting arm with potential to make an impact as a late-game reliever. As Lovegrove discussed with David Laurila of Fangraphs last year, he throws a fastball that nearly hits triple digits, a knuckle-curve, and a changeup. In the previously linked Fangraphs piece, Lovegrove goes into great detail about the adjustments he has made with his arsenal, including getting rid of his slider.
An interview with Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic ($) back in March highlights an intriguing man behind his baseball persona. From attempting to become the first African-born pitcher to reach the major leagues, to having Adam Jones express interest in helping him spread the game of baseball to the African continent, to his desire to create a TV series, Lovegrove is a fascinating human and an intriguing arm, despite having yet to reach the major leagues at nearly 25 years of age.
If he can learn to limit his walks and overcome his injury history (including a hip injury), the Orioles have themselves someone worth taking a flyer on. He’s also a fantastic Twitter follow. Enjoy for yourselves.
Welcome to Birdland, Kieran Lovegrove!