Orioles Claim Phoenix Sanders Off Waivers from Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 14: Phoenix Sanders #80 of the Tampa Bay Rays makes his debut in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics at Tropicana Field on April 14, 2022 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 14: Phoenix Sanders #80 of the Tampa Bay Rays makes his debut in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics at Tropicana Field on April 14, 2022 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images) /
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The Orioles made another waiver claim, picking up Phoenix Sanders from the Tampa Bay Rays.

Even in what has become a strong season for the Baltimore Orioles, that has them just 2 1/2 games out of a wild card spot entering play on Thursday, they are still adding to the fringes of the roster. On Wednesday, the Orioles claimed right-handed pitcher Phoenix Sanders off waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays and optioned him to Triple-A Norfolk. As I’ve done with previous Orioles waiver claims this season, let’s learn more about Sanders.

First off, we’ll start with his pitch arsenal. Sanders has three pitches he works with as a relief pitcher. He throws a slider, four seam fastball, and a curveball. His slider is the pitch he uses most, throwing it 51.1 percent of the time. The four seam is second most used at 25.6 percent, and the curveball is used 22.8 percent of the time.

Sanders joins the Orioles in the midst of his first season in the major leagues. With the Rays, he was bouncing back and forth between the majors and Triple-A Durham. He has appeared in eight big league games so far, authoring a 3.07 ERA, 1.023 WHIP, and 2.10 FIP, striking out 12 batters while walking three in 14 2/3 innings of major league experience.

OAKLAND, CA – MAY 2: Phoenix Sanders #80 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches during the game against the Oakland Athletics at RingCentral Coliseum on May 2, 2022 in Oakland, California. The Rays defeated the Athletics 6-1. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA – MAY 2: Phoenix Sanders #80 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches during the game against the Oakland Athletics at RingCentral Coliseum on May 2, 2022 in Oakland, California. The Rays defeated the Athletics 6-1. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images) /

As Sanders is in his first big league season, he doesn’t show up on many Statcast metrics. However, the ones he is on aren’t very favorable. His fastball velocity sits in just the 7th percentile according to Baseball Savant, so he is no flamethrower by any means. His fastball spin rate is in the 14th percentile, while his extension is in the 28th percentile.

In short, much like other waiver claims Louis Head, Kirk McCarty, and Austin Voth, Sanders is not a player that jumps off the page as someone who makes an instant impact for a team. However, we’ve seen the Orioles turn Voth into a strong contributor, and Head has looked good in a short sample this year. Hopefully, Sanders can become a quality reliever in the bullpen, and you can never have enough relievers.