The Baltimore Orioles 2019 draft class will always be remembered for the number one overall pick, catcher Adley Rutschman, but it was full of impressive picks. Birds Watcher takes a look at several draft picks whose play should put them on the radar (second in a series).
The goal for Major League teams selecting in the first half of the draft (rounds 1-20) is to make solid picks who can likely become major league contributors. The Baltimore Orioles made such a pick in the 13th round of the 2019 draft when they selected RHP Dan Hammer out of the University of Pittsburgh.
Hammer spent his entire first professional season toeing the rubber for the Aberdeen Ironbirds (A-Short), where over a span of ten appearances (six starts) and 35.0 innings, he compiled a 1-2 record with one save. Hammer pitched to a 1.29 ERA with 13 walks, 41 strikeouts, and a 0.89 WHIP; he also held New York-Penn League batters to a .153 batting average.
In keeping with the emphasis placed on strikeouts in 2019, Hammer’s total of 41 represented the fifth-highest total for the Ironbirds’ pitching staff and was second-best among the 18 drafted and signed pitchers.
Hammer struck out 31% of the batters faced and had a rate of 10.5 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched. Concurrently, he walked just about 10% of the batters he faced during the past season. The work the Baltimore organization did with its pitchers in regards to strikeouts worked well for the 22-year-old pitcher as he realized a 15% improvement in his strikeout per nine inning rate from the 9.1 rate he generated over three seasons pitching for the Pitt Panthers.
Pitching the third-most innings among the 2019 draftees, Hammer proved to be a solid option for Aberdeen manager Kevin Bradshaw. He pitched 23.0 innings as a starter and 12.0 in relief and threw in whatever situation he was called upon to.
His three-pitch mix of a low-90 mph fastball, a curveball that breaks 11 to 5 and a changeup allowed him to be almost equally successful against both right-handed and left-handed batters; right-handed batters hit .139 off of him while left-handed batters had a slightly better .174 average.
More from Birds Watcher
- 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?
- Orioles News: Predicting the Opening Day Infield and More MLB News
- Last Chance O’s Fans: Bet $40, Win $700 if ONE POINT is Scored in ANY NFL Game This Week
The 2019 rookies class of pitchers were very effective at producing swings and misses this season and also at limiting home runs. Hammer was no exception. He allowed just one long ball in his 35 innings of work.
His lone professional victory came in his final start of 2019, a five-inning effort against the Brooklyn Cyclones on August 29th that the Ironbirds won by a score of 12-3. Hammer allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits with one walk and four strikeouts to record that first win.
Hammer honed his craft over two seasons in the Cape Cod League (2017 and 2018) where he struck out 40 and walked 14 over 48.0 innings and produced a 3-3 record over a total of 13 appearances. A performance that surely factored into his draft selection.
Wherever Hammer pitches in 2020, a return to Aberdeen after extended spring training or a move up to Delmarva (A-Low), look for him to continue to be both a solid pitcher and prospect to look out for.
You can check out the first part of this six-part series here. Part one focuses on the first year of outfielder Shayne Fontana, a Division-II prospect who is quickly making a name for himself with the Orioles.