Baltimore Orioles: Finding Intriguing Possible Waiver Claims

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - SEPTEMBER 22: A general view during the Baltimore Orioles and Seattle Mariners game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 22, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - SEPTEMBER 22: A general view during the Baltimore Orioles and Seattle Mariners game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 22, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /
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Baltimore Orioles
OAKLAND, CA – JUNE 07: Jharel Cotton #45 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Toronto Blue Jays at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on June 7, 2017 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

RHP Jharel Cotton (Oakland Athletics)

As I was doing my digging around for this piece, Cotton’s name came up multiple times as an option that provides a bit of intrigue to Baltimore Orioles fans. Just based on name recognition alone, he demands a deeper look.

While guys like Pelham and Escobar are raw arms with high upside in need of development, Cotton is a bit of a project. A former top prospect in the A’s system, Cotton was once viewed as a potential two/three starter in the major leagues, according to The Athletic’s Eno Sarris, and started to gain a lot of traction heading into the 2017 season.

Unfortunately, he struggled in his first full season in the majors, going 9-10 with a 5.58 ERA, a 105/53 K/BB ratio, and 28 home runs allowed in 129 innings. He was then forced to miss all of 2018 recovering from Tommy John surgery and pitched just 27 minor league innings in 2019 due to hamstring troubles and another surgery.

He hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2017 but he has an option remaining and won’t become a free agent until 2023. At 27, he may not be a longterm option, but if he is able to rebound, he can pitch out of the pen or as a spot-starter and potentially be flipped.

It’s been a while, but his 2017 numbers show a 93 mph fastball and a 78 mph changeup as part of his five-pitch mix. His changeup limited hitters to a .218 average (.180 expected average) and produced a 30% whiff rate. I like his stuff and upside a lot more than Nate Karns, last year’s failed project.

RHP Conner Greene (Kansas City)

Last but not least, let’s take a look at former Royals pitcher Conner Greene. A seventh-round pick of the Blue Jays back in 2013, Greene spent five years in the Toronto organization before being traded to St. Louis ahead of the 2018 season and then being designated for assignment and claimed by Kansas City before the 2019 season.

He made 29 total appearances (16 starts) between Double-A and Triple-A, working a 5.13 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, and .266 average against. He struck out 95 hitters and walked 54 in 112 innings. That’s been the story with Greene throughout his career, a lot of walks with very few swings and misses (career 541/343 K/BB ratio).

The 6’3″ righty was ranked as a Top 100 prospect by Baseball Prospectus in 2016, owning a powerful fastball that can touch triple digits. He’s been effective at limiting home runs and producing groundballs throughout his career, two positives for a pitcher looking to make a home at Camden Yards.

In this interview with MLB Pipeline’s Jonathan Mayo last year, Greene discusses his relationship with Cardinals pitchers Jack Flaherty and Adam Wainwright and what he’s learned from working with the two veterans. He also touched on some changes the Cardinals were looking to make with him.

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"From an analytics standpoint, they have a lot of good information that shows me who I am. I’d been trying to be a sinker ball guy while I have a high spin rate, so it’s like I’m fighting myself there. There are things we’re going to focus on more than other areas."

The lack of strikeouts are concerning, but the stuff is there, he can work as a starter or reliever, he has an option remaining, and he seems to be a pretty good fit.

Will Mike Elias and the Baltimore Orioles take a look at any of these arms in the next few days? We will have to wait and see, but there certainly are some interesting options, all of whom could provide more entertainment and value than more Tom Eshelman and Ryan Eades type arms.

Next. Three Potential Rebound Candidates For 2020. dark

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