In early December, the Orioles made two trades in three days, sending starting pitcher Dylan Bundy to the Los Angeles Angels and infielder Jonathan Villar to the Miami Marlins.
Bundy was traded for four right-handed pitchers. Villar was traded for a left-hander.
There’s a chance that one of those pitchers could see action with the Orioles later this year, and the other four will at least increase the team’s minor league depth.
Here’s a look at the five:
Of the five prospects acquired for Bundy and Villar, Mattson appears to be the only one who has a chance to pitch for the Orioles this season. The right-hander had a quick rise through the Angels’ minor league system last year, pitching in High-A, Double-A and Triple-A as a reliever. Across all three levels, Mattson pitched in 37 games, posting a 2.33 ERA and recording 110 strikeouts in 73 ⅓ innings. He had a 1.30 ERA in seven appearances in the Arizona Fall League.
“I would say Mattson was the one with whom I was the least familiar,” Orioles general manager Mike Elias told reporters on a conference call after the Bundy trade.
“But you look at his numbers, he’s been really dominant across the minor leagues and especially lately just dominant wherever you send him, including the Arizona Fall League.”
According to Baseball America, Mattson’s fastball is anywhere from 90-94 miles per hour, and he has good command. He also throws a slider and a changeup that is effective against left-handed batters.
Mattson appeared in just eight games at Triple-A last year and should begin at Norfolk to get more experience at that level. With many of the Orioles’ pitching prospects still at lower levels, he could appear at Camden Yards sooner rather than later.
A 2018 fourth-round pick from New Mexico State, Bradish spent last year with the Inland 66ers, the Los Angeles Angels’ High-A team. He finished with a 4.28 ERA, striking out 120 batters in 101 innings. His fastball averages 91-93 miles per hour, but it has good movement. Bradish throws over the top and has a hitch before he comes set.
“He has a high arm-slot and the way the ball comes off his fingers, it’s something you can’t really teach,” 66ers pitching coach Michael Wuertz said. “When it’s effective, it has good cutting action and … gets a lot of swing and misses.”
Bradish also throws a slider and is working on his offspeed pitches. Wuertz said they started to see a difference in velocity between his slider and curveball, and he’s working to improve his changeup.
Control is an issue. Bradish walked 4.7 batters per nine innings, which follows the 4.9 per nine he walked at New Mexico State. Wuertz said that’s the key to moving forward.
“For him, if he gets ahead, to be able to put guys away a little quicker … That right there will help him a long way,” Wuertz said. “For a kid that’s only pitched one year professionally he had ups and downs but also had a lot of growth.”
Lucas was the only left-hander the Orioles acquired, in the deal for Villar.
His path to the 2019 MLB Draft wasn’t smooth. Lucas had a 4.58 ERA in his freshman year at Pepperdine, missed most of his sophomore season because of soreness and injury and was inconsistent as a junior.
Lucas drew attention that summer in the Cape Cod League when he posted a 2.28 ERA in 23 ⅔ innings and followed it with a 3.87 ERA in 76 ⅔ innings during his senior season with the Waves.
Lucas was drafted by the Marlins in the 14th round and had a 3.63 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 34 ⅔ innings in the Gulf Coast League and Short Season Single-A Batavia.
Although his fastball only ranges 88-92 miles per hour, Pepperdine coach Rick Hirtensteiner said Lucas works ahead in the count and throws his offspeed pitches for strikes.
“I think there could be a velocity bump,” Hirtensteiner said. “He’s a big kid (6 feet 4, 180 pounds) and can get stronger and is very athletic.”
Brnovich struck out at least 100 batters in each of his three seasons at Elon, and his 360 strikeouts are second in Colonial Athletic Association history, trailing only Justin Verlander from his time at Old Dominion.
“He has swing-and-miss stuff,” Elon coach Mike Kennedy said. “Breaking ball is a high level that plays at any level, and I don’t think he’s going to have any trouble getting swing and misses. He’s a competitor and is fierce when he attacks hitters.”
Brnovich’s slider is his best pitch, and he throws a four-seam and two-seam fastball. Kennedy also said he’s developing a changeup and a curveball.
“Any time you have guys on base and get out of trouble and get out of situations it’s critical,” Kennedy said. “He’s not a pitch-to-contact guy and gets a ton of swing and misses. And situations where you need a swing and miss, he’s capable of doing that.”
Brnovich didn’t throw in the minor leagues last year, which is how the Angels handled several of their draft picks, including Zach Peek, whom the Orioles also acquired in the Bundy trade.
Winthrop coach Tom Riginos has coached college baseball for 28 years and doesn’t remember a more competitive player than Peek.
“You get a very, very ultra-competitive kid,” Riginos said. “In our program, we talk about the battle on the mound between the pitcher and the hitter. He’s 100 percent committed to the battle.”
After appearing out of the bullpen his freshman year, Peek posted a 3.88 ERA and 190 strikeouts in 176 ⅓ innings before being drafted in the sixth round by the Angels.
Peek came into Winthrop with a two-seam and four-seam fastball but switched solely to a four-seam fastball because of its spin rate. Peek started to use it high in the zone to attack hitters.
“Everyone sees the pure stuff. The body is there,” Riginos said of the 6-3, 185-pound right-hander.. “It’s just about competing on the minor league level. When he starts spring training, whatever team he’s assigned, just going out there and competing every day.”
Orioles sign seven from Dominican: On Friday, the Orioles announced the signing of seven players from the Dominican Republic — third baseman Albert Calderon, shortstop Jose Cosma, outfielder Ronnie Martinez, and right-handed pitchers Yonatan Pineda, Christopher Ramirez, Rafael Ramirez and Luis Sanchez.
These signings are in addition to the 27 players from Latin America whose signings were previously announced. –Rich Dubroff