Myriad Orioles Thoughts: Hunter Harvey hope; Rule 5 decisions; ex-O’s on Hall ballot - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dan Connolly

Myriad Orioles Thoughts: Hunter Harvey hope; Rule 5 decisions; ex-O’s on Hall ballot

Photo credit: Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire

The Orioles played it conservatively Monday night, placing oft-injured pitching prospect Hunter Harvey on the 40-man roster to make sure he is not eligible to be selected by another team in the Rule 5 draft.

It’s the right move, especially given the Orioles’ dearth of pitching talent in the upper-end of the organization’s farm system.

Harvey who turns 23 in December, has pitched in only 144 1/3 innings as a professional since being drafted by the Orioles in the first round (22nd) in 2013.

Due to injuries, including elbow-ligament-replacement (Tommy John) surgery in 2016, Harvey hasn’t reached beyond Low-A Delmarva, where he allowed two earned runs and four hits while striking out 14 in 8 2/3 innings last August.

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That’s a huge jump to the majors in 2018, which is where another team would have to keep Harvey all year if they wanted his long-term services.

So, frankly, Harvey was probably a longshot to stick with another organization all of next year, but the Orioles couldn’t take that chance. A team that is in full rebuilding mode, like the Miami Marlins, for instance, might have grabbed him, put him in the bullpen and rolled the dice, hoping Harvey would be serviceable enough that it would be worth the long-term upside.

That sounds like an Orioles thing to do. Therefore, the Orioles had no choice but to be proactive now. Harvey appears to be recovered from surgery and will be in spring camp in Sarasota.

Given his lack of experience, the Orioles won’t be tempted to bring him north for Opening Day; I’d expect Harvey would start at High-A Frederick or Double-A Bowie, which I know is where some within the organization would like him to begin 2018.

The fact he is now on the 40-man roster means he could leap into the majors in 2018. The Orioles had to make sure if he gets that opportunity it is with them, and not someone else.

Hard to argue with that logic.

Wynns and Hess placed on 40-man; Wilkerson isn’t

One of the cooler stories each winter is when long-time minor leaguers are placed on the 40-man roster to avoid selection in the upcoming December’s Rule 5 draft.

Besides Harvey, the Orioles also added two others to their 40-man roster Monday to bring their total to 33: right-hander David Hess and catcher Austin Wynns.

Hess, 24, was the Orioles’ fifth-rounder in 2014, but was actually the club’s third pick that year because it had forfeited the first two selections for free agents the previous winter (Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz.). By the next season, several in the organization believed Hess could be the best of the 2014 group, because of a varied arsenal and a solid acumen for pitching.

This was his second full season at Double-A, and he acquitted himself fairly well in 2017, going 11-9 with a 3.85 ERA in 27 games (26 starts). He’s put himself on the radar for a spot — at some point — in the major league rotation, perhaps later on in 2018 or in early 2019. But he could stick in a big-league bullpen, too, and so he might have been snagged by another organization that viewed him as a potential middle-inning reliever now.

Wynns turns 27 in December and has played only eight games above Double-A in his career. But he is a defensive specialist and hit .281 in 105 games at Bowie in 2017. With the Orioles down to Caleb Joseph and Chance Sisco as catchers on the 40-man roster, it made sense to add Wynns.

It’s probably unlikely, given his age, that another team would have taken Wynns. But the Orioles need this type of player anyway to boost their catching depth, and it is a nice reward for a former 10th rounder (in 2013).

We often seem to make a big deal about who was left of the Orioles’ 40-man roster at this time of year, yet other organizations rarely take anyone from Baltimore’s system in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft. Since 2011 only one player was selected away from the Orioles’ organization in that phase: Korean first baseman Ji-man Choi, who had been signed as a minor league free agent a month earlier.

So, there may not be much to worry about this year. But perhaps the most surprising name the Orioles needed to add to the roster to protect and didn’t was 25-year-old infielder Steve Wilkerson. The Clemson product and former eighth-round pick hit .305 between High-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie in 2017 and also has hit well in the Arizona Fall League.

Wilkerson is viewed as a utility infielder type, and that’s probably not the kind of player a team will keep all year on the major league roster (though the Orioles did that with Ryan Flaherty in 2012). Still, it was a bit of a surprise he wasn’t added since Wilkerson is potentially in the mix for the Orioles’ utility job in 2018, though his ability to play shortstop at the big league level is questionable, and that’s usually a pre-requisite for a utility player.

Hall of Fame O’s connections

The 2018 Hall of Fame ballot was announced today and there are plenty of former Orioles on the holdover list including Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling, Vladimir Guerrero and Sammy Sosa. The first-year nominee list includes ex-Orioles Aubrey Huff, Kevin Millwood, Jamie Moyer and Jim Thome, as well as Johan Santana, who was in the Orioles’ minor-league system in 2014.

This is probably the year Guerrero gets in, and Thome has an excellent shot, too. Mussina’s vote totals climb annually, but he’s probably a few years away from potential induction.

The problem right now is there are so many good candidates, created in part by the “steroid logjam,” that it’s hard to predict which players will receive 75 percent of the vote.

I am a Hall of Fame voter, and I think this one is going to be extremely difficult. At first blush, I have 12 candidates I think are worthy, and another three to five that are on the bubble. And I can only vote for 10 each year.

I take it seriously, so I won’t be throwing away a vote to give some props to Huff and Millwood, both of whom I enjoyed covering.

How I’m going to whittle it to 10, though, I don’t know yet.

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. boss61

    November 21, 2017 at 8:49 am

    Hi Dan. Interesting that you enjoyed covering Kevin Millwood, as his arrival corresponds to my son’s then-growing interest in the Orioles (he is now of college age and a rabid fan). For him, Millwood remains the first Oriole he actively disliked.

    When I asked why, the answer pretty much was the gulf between expectations (former Braves starting pitchers are supposed to all be great) and reality (mediocrity toward the end of his career).

    HOF guys who would easily be on my ballot: Chipper, Thome, Guerrero. Mussina is more borderline to me.

    But I’ve never been a guy who refuses HOF induction to guys suspected of steroids – many played within the prevailing rules and standards of the time. Bonds, Clemens and others would be on my ballot of this reason. This is because its the Hall of Fame (these guys achieved baseball fan by any reasonable standard) and not the Hall of Role Models or the Hall of Morality. Ruth, Cobb and Mantle are three reprehensible human beings, enshrined in Cooperstown.

    So why not Bonds, Clemens, et. al. ? Because they sought an advantage? So did Whitey Ford and Gaylord Perry.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 21, 2017 at 12:09 pm

      Millwood was a bit misunderstood because he was so laid-back in interviews, etc., some thought he didn’t care. Not true at all. Plus, Millwood was a guy who liked to talk once you got to know him and he had some great stories. I’m partial to pitchers who make no excuses when they struggle. That was Millwood. Conversely, my least favorites are the ones who blame everyone else when things go wrong. And the Orioles have had a few of those too.

  2. Marshall

    November 21, 2017 at 9:15 am

    Bonds, Clemens, Vlad, Chipper, Hoffman, Thome, Rolen, Schilling, Edgar Martinez, Jeff Kent

    • Dan Connolly

      November 21, 2017 at 12:09 pm

      I’m gonna have to research Rolen thoroughly. The others are good picks.

      • Steve Cockey

        November 21, 2017 at 12:39 pm

        Maybe the O’s could trade for him ;).

  3. letsgolos

    November 21, 2017 at 9:27 am

    I’m curious as to your thoughts on the omission of John Means. With seven spots to give, it seems like it would’ve made sense to protect a guy who has had a similar progression as David Hess, at least in terms of productivity at Bowie, over the past two seasons. Plus, he’s left handed.

    I’m not upset over it, but it just seems a little odd considering the O’s are always looking for LHP help and Means could perhaps continue progressing. I could see a team taking a shot on Means simply because he’s a LHP and hiding in him in their bullpen kind of like TJ Macfarland with the O’s a few seasons back.

    • Marsh42

      November 21, 2017 at 11:23 am

      I thought about Means as well as Gonzalez. It is odd that we are exposing them along with Wilkerson. I highly doubt we will we will sign 7 players so it seems odd.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 21, 2017 at 12:12 pm

      I just don’t think the industry will view Means as a guy who can stick in the majors all year or has enough upside that it’s worth keeping him all year. That’s not to say he can’t be a MLBer at some point. But the Os probably felt confident he won’t be chosen. They must feel the same way about Gonzalez. Big jump to the majors.

  4. ED-DIE

    November 21, 2017 at 10:15 am

    Aubrey “All I Do Is Jack Off” Huff gets zero votes. Let us not forget about the Baltimore is a ……. comment either.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 21, 2017 at 12:13 pm

      He won’t get any votes. But he could hit. And was a character. My goodness.

  5. pedro

    November 21, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    I hope Mussina gets in and goes as an Oriole (his numbers are better here than NY). Is there room for a statue in monument park if he makes it? Hope so.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 21, 2017 at 7:37 pm

      There is. Will be interesting.

    • OsFanStuckInNY

      November 22, 2017 at 4:03 am

      I just don’t see Mussina as worthy of HOF, even by today’s meager starting pitcher stats. He certainly was an excellent pitcher, but he doesn’t compare favorably with those alr day inducted.
      Some examples: won 20 once, 19 & 18 & 17 twice. Last 5 years of his career only averaged 14 wins and a total of 4 complete games. Only 57 CG and 23 shut outs in an 18-year career. Only 5 All-Star teams. Never won a Cy Young, and only finished 2nd once, 4th twice, 5th three times. So in 10 of his 18 seasons, he wasn’t even in the Top Five of his league. A dominant enough pitcher to have earned HOF induction? Close, maybe — and certainly an excellent pitcher; but not good quite HOF level.

    • pedro

      November 22, 2017 at 10:26 am

      Mussina pitched in a small ballpark during the height of the steroid era. I think that counts for something. The game changed during his time, away from CGs as a comparative to HOFers, imo. He’s not a lock, I agree. I still think he gets in (expressionless look on the plaque) wearing an O’s cap.

  6. 54orioles

    November 23, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    Is it my imagination but do the O’s have more of their share of young high level draft picks that develop arm problems or what? I see this so often with the birds.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 24, 2017 at 10:15 am

      Seems that way. But all teams go through it. I looked a couple years ago. It’s baseball.

  7. Mr Will

    December 4, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    Tired of hearing do we trade the chips or try for another post season…it should be obvious. Where did we finish with all of the “chips”…last place in case you forgot the September Swoon?
    We must stock our farm system with best possible return and Manny should also bring a corner left hand hitting outfielder. Do what Houston and Minnesota and White Sox are doing or have done…the Os are famous for holding on to players and prospects too long and over or under evaluating their talent.
    Improve the pitching as much as possible…stock the farm system with at least 4-5 good prospects and give guys like Hays, Mullins and others a chance to learn in the bigs. Had we done that with Mancini, we would not have wasted money on Trumbo. Sign Schoop early. Davis piays a decent third base and perhaps he can regain his ability to see and swing at something called a baseball.
    We have hit our low point…think smart and make the moves that make sense.
    Mr Will

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