Harvey, Hernández, LeBlanc add intrigue to Orioles' minor league invite list - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Spring Training

Harvey, Hernández, LeBlanc add intrigue to Orioles’ minor league invite list

Matt Harvey
Photo credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

With the imminent signing of right-hander Matt Harvey to a minor league contract, the Orioles have accumulated some familiar names to contend for starting spots in spring training, which begins on Wednesday in Sarasota, Florida.

Harvey, 31, was once a bright star for the New York Mets, but if he makes the Orioles out of spring training, he’ll pitch for his fifth team since 2018,

Harvey joins veteran right-hander Felix Hernández and left-hander Wade LeBlanc, who signed minor league contracts with the Orioles earlier this month.

Even before the trade of pitcher Alex Cobb to the Los Angeles Angels on February 3rd, the Orioles needed additional starters. John Means has been impressive during his two years with the team, and Keegan Akin and Dean Kremer showed promise late last season.

But in a 162-game season, the Orioles are going to need many starters, and Harvey, Hernández and LeBlanc could help out — even for a short time.

The Orioles need time for prospects Michael Baumann, Zac Lowther and Alexander Wells to develop, just as they did last year for Akin and Kremer. The money isn’t big for any of the three, and if turns out that they can’t help the team, the Orioles have lost nothing.

Perhaps the biggest problem could be finding innings for them in competitive games. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, games have been trimmed from the Grapefruit League schedule.

The Orioles play their first game on February 28th, a day later than originally scheduled, and there are two off days instead of one. Split-squad games have been eliminated, and in the first two weeks of games, there won’t be as many innings to fill.

Before March 14th, games can last between five or seven innings, if both managers agree. In the last two weeks of camp, they can last seven.

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That will keep dugouts and bullpens less crowded, but it won’t necessarily help the Orioles find innings for their starting candidates, which also could include Rule 5 right-handers Mac Sceroler and Tyler Wells, Jorge López, Bruce Zimmermann and non-roster right-hander Thomas Eshelman.

One strength of the Orioles is that they have an abundance of promising bullpen arms. It seems unlikely that Harvey, Hernández or LeBlanc would go to the bullpen, but Eshelman, Lopez,  Zimmermann, Sceroler and Wells could.

Having a long man or two in the bullpen could help immensely during the season.

Young pitchers who have options remaining could help keep the bullpen fresh and the starters healthy. Other than Shawn Armstrong and César Valdez, the bullpen pieces can be optioned.

Harvey’s addition would mean the Orioles could have as many as 73 players in camp, two short of the 75-player limit imposed by Major League Baseball.

Players signed to minor league deals must be placed on the 40-man roster, and it would be interesting to see who might get cut to make room for them.

There are only two catchers on the 40-manroster, and if either Pedro Severino or Chance Sisco gets hurt, room would have to be found for either Nick Ciuffo, Taylor Davis or Austin Wynns.

Left-handed pitcher Fernando Abad, who could make the club, is also on a minor league deal, as is utilityman Stevie Wilkerson.

Two other pitchers, right-handers Marcos Díplan and Conner Greene, are also invited players.

There are 22 on the camp reserve list. Many of those names are unfamiliar to fans, but two pitchers who came to the Orioles in the series of July 2018 trades, right-handers Cody Carroll and Evan Phillips, are on the list.

Carroll and Phillips were taken off the 40-man roster, but could find their way back with strong spring performances.

Another name on that list is left-hander Josh Rogers, who came from the Yankees in the trade for Zack Britton. Rogers underwent Tommy John surgery in 2019. Although he’s a long shot to make the team, he does have major league starting experience and is familiar to the Orioles.

Other interesting camp reserve names are right-handers Eric Hanhold, who impressed manager Brandon Hyde during spring training a year ago, and Mickey Jannis. Hanhold pitched in three games for the Mets in 2018 but was stuck at the alternate site in Bowie last year. Jannis, 33, is a knuckleball pitcher, which is uncommon in the major leagues. He has just four Triple-A appearances, all in 2019 ,in a professional career that began in 2010.

With the exception of outfielder Chris Shaw, claimed on waivers from San Francisco in November, most of the other position players are prospects who could benefit from time around major league players and coaches.

Catcher Adley Rutschman, infielders Adam Hall, Gunnar Henderson, Terrin Vavra and Jordan Westburg have impressive credentials. Hall was the Orioles’ second-round pick in 2017, and he’s probably their most polished middle infield prospect in the higher minors. He’s likely to begin the season at Double-A Bowie.

Vavra, along with corner infielder Tyler Nevin, came from Colorado in the trade for reliever Mychal Givens. Henderson, Rutschman and Westburg were high Orioles’ draft picks in 2019 and 2020.

Infielder Mason McCoy has Triple-A experience, and Seth Mejias-Brean has major league experience with San Diego in 2019.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. CalsPals

    February 14, 2021 at 7:36 am

    Dang, Dodgers (last yrs WS Champs) signed Turner for 34 million at 3B, thought the O’s might sign him.s/…go O’s…

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      February 14, 2021 at 9:21 am

      Bwaahahaaahahaaahahaaahahaha …. you’re killing me bra!

  2. Orial

    February 14, 2021 at 8:30 am

    Hernandez,Harvey are nice looking names that are a long shot to make the rotation but why not just go out and sign a veteran starter that WOULD make the rotation? Minor league salary I suppose is the depressing reason. Bright side–starters only go 4-5 innings anyway.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      February 14, 2021 at 9:24 am

      Actually, I’m starting to thing King Felix may break training with the club. Not saying he should .. I’m just thinking he may …

  3. millboy

    February 14, 2021 at 10:13 am

    Since the minor leagues lost a year of games, and will start late again, it will be interesting to see who takes a step forward this year

  4. NormOs

    February 14, 2021 at 10:39 am

    What is the big deal about starting pitching? Why five starters? They pitch an average of 5 to 6 innings and require FOUR DAYS REST? So now we’re talking about 2 more washed up pitchers and 1 never-was. The O’s are definitely heading for a 110+ loss season. But look at the bright side, we WILL get the #1 draft choice (big deal!)

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      February 14, 2021 at 11:12 am

      Norm, I’m still thinking this team has too much talent to lose 100 again. Call me crazy .. but despite the actions/inactions of Mr. Elias, I think this team is going to stick it in his ear and at lease come close to 75-80 wins.

      • WorldlyView

        February 15, 2021 at 1:16 am

        BRR, I am taking up your invitation and calling you crazy. I simply don’t understand how you and the other optimists think the O’s will approach a .500 or better 2021 season. Operation Skinflint has produced a team composed of way too many waiver wire underachievers and over the hill free agents who share a common willingness to work for minimum wage. I think the pitching staff does not even rise to the level of “questionable.” I am familiar with the adage that they play the games because no one can faultlessly predict the outcome of professional sports competition. On the other hand, I embrace two old adages. First, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Second, you get what you pay for. For a similar pessimistic view, see the two posts below by one Boog R R.

      • NormOs

        February 15, 2021 at 4:06 pm

        BRR, I feel they are set in the outfield, 1st base, and DH with Santander, Mullins, Hays, Mancini, and Mountcastle (and they are interchangeable.) Catching is suspect but may be adequate. NO 2nd, SS, or 3rd and they won’t spend the money on MLB free agents. Also the young pitching would have to come through which is asking a lot. As for any other “starters”……..you’ve got to be kidding!

    • dlgruber1

      February 14, 2021 at 6:25 pm

      NormOs you absolutely nailed it! I’m dating myself now but I remember when every team used a 4 man rotation and the pitchers were expected to go at least 7 innings. There will never be another 300 game winner and we’ll rarely see 20 game winners as well. MLB is all about the HR now. Bunting, stolen bases, hit and run, batters choking up with 2 strokes are all a thing of the past. Managers don’t manage any longer, they go by a game plan no matter what the situation. When I see pitchers coming out of a game having give up but a run and 2 hits in a World Series game that’s when I know the game has past me by. I’ll always love baseball but it’s nowhere near the game I played and loved growing up. I actually feel bad for younger fans who never really got the chance to see it.

      • BirdfanVA

        February 14, 2021 at 7:34 pm

        DL, I’m with you. I’d rather see a team bunt, steal bases, etc., than watch a bunch of hackers strike-out at least half of the time. I liked teams like the Royals when Whitey Herzog was manager. He would let Willie Wilson, Lonnie Smith, and company run like crazy. Whitey also did the same thing when he managed the Cardinals. Vince Coleman and Willie McGhee put a lot of pressure on pitchers and infielders because they were always a threat to steal a base at any time. I believe it was Joe Garagiola who once said that speed doesn’t go into a slump. One of my favorite Orioles plays from last season was when Hyde had one of the Orioles steal home. The runner was initially called safe, but I believe he was then called out after a video challenge.

    • CalsPals

      February 14, 2021 at 6:41 pm

      DL, 100% agree, also dating myself, but I liked the old game…go O’s…

      • VICTORTEE

        February 15, 2021 at 8:50 am

        Earl’s top teams had a little speed but were mainly “Pitching, defense and THREE RUN HOMERS”.

    • BarstoolSleeper

      February 15, 2021 at 8:02 pm

      C’mon guys, I’ll give you 3B is an issue but “NO SS or 2B”? And “over the hill” Galvis is more than an adequate SS defensively and he’s a career .247 hitter. He’s also just 32 years old. And Sanchez won a gold glove at 2B and is a career .245 hitter. Oh by the way, he’s 28 years old. To say they are not major league talent and over the hill is absurd and you all know it, you’re just mad that they aren’t spending money during the rebuild. Guess what the average batting average is for a MLB hitter? Around .250. Seems like an average SS and 2B to me men. Do some homework before you post that nonsense.

  5. mmcmillan1123

    February 14, 2021 at 12:09 pm

    Hopefully I am right but I don’t think the O’s want a veteran to start regularly. If Hernandez, Harvey or LeBlanc make the rotation, they are just going to be placeholders while our young arms are getting innings at AAA. Why spend a lot of money until we see what the young arms can do. Then bolster the rotation with a really good veteran arm like the Astros did a couple of years ago.

    • Bancells Moustache

      February 14, 2021 at 12:29 pm

      That is, quite literally, the million dollar question. If they are on the cusp of a Championship, will the Orioles then spend the money needed to get over the hump? Or will they do what the Orioles do, skip past the difference makers and scan halfway down the list to slightly above mediocre half-measures that are “in our price range” e.g. Cobb and Jimenez? That is the very definition of what a loser does and the Baltimore Orioles are losers. I’ll believe otherwise when I see it.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        February 14, 2021 at 1:24 pm

        There was a day where even Peter Angelos spent a little money on FAs. Palmeiro, Alomar, Albert Belle and Clark are but a few that I can remember. Suitcliffe & Surhoff as well?

        But those were also the days when you couldn’t find a ticket on a Tuesday night because every seat for the year was sold by the end of April. Those days are long gone.

        And I’ll tell you what a loser is. A loser is someone that doesn’t mind losing, and may actually TRY to lose.

    • CalsPals

      February 14, 2021 at 1:44 pm

      Agree, I would guess when you’re not trying to win, you must be trying to lose…go O’s…

    • BarstoolSleeper

      February 14, 2021 at 2:24 pm

      BRR I’m with you on the 70some win total. Idk why but I think this team will be competitive. Every year there are surprises good and bad that no one predicts. That’s the beauty of playing the games on the field.

      Rich silly question, if the spring training games can be shortened to 5 or 7 innings will tickets still be full price? If they are shortened will we know before the games or is it decided on the field?

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        February 14, 2021 at 5:43 pm

        They really could play decent ball if management would only help them out a little.

      • Rich Dubroff

        February 14, 2021 at 8:08 pm

        They may not know ahead of time if the game is going to be shorter. It could be nine, seven or five. As you know, Dave, late innings in a Grapefruit League game are not necessarily entertaining.

    • CalsPals

      February 14, 2021 at 7:09 pm

      Absolutely agree, a lil help would be appreciated…go O’s…

  6. Birdman

    February 14, 2021 at 2:27 pm

    These are the kind of pitchers that you have to sign, when you have ownership that is unwilling (or unable) to spend more.

    • CalsPals

      February 15, 2021 at 8:48 am

      If ownership is unable to spend more, they need to get the hell out, find someone who can, or at least is willing…go O’s…

  7. willmiranda

    February 14, 2021 at 3:05 pm

    With all these diverse guys coming on board, the O’s seem more like the crew of a pirate ship than a team. I’d like to hear about the kind of team spirit that evolves from all these desperate characters competing against each other as much as against other teams. I guess I just have to admit “team spirit” is an anachronism in today’s professional sports. Anyway, just thought I’d share the thought.

  8. Bhoffman1

    February 14, 2021 at 4:01 pm

    Imagine if the dark knight and king Felix were the two guys of old and with the young guys pitching like last year and the imminent release of Davis and Adley behind the plate we could complete against the powerhouses in the AL East. Just imagining on Valentine’s Day.

    • CalsPals

      February 14, 2021 at 5:24 pm

      With ya, Valentine’s Day probably biggest day of fantasies…lol…go O’s…

  9. Bmore

    February 15, 2021 at 7:56 am

    That would be amazing if Harvey and Hernandez could capture that magic again water rotation that could be

  10. Catman

    February 15, 2021 at 11:51 am

    Matt Harvey?? You’ve got be kidding me. He’s done. Does Elias even look at the stats of these people from their last few seasons or just what they did 5-10 years ago.

    110 Losses. Write it down.

    • ClayDal

      February 15, 2021 at 5:20 pm

      It’s a minor league, non guaranteed contract. If he can’t pitch anymore, they release him. If he still has anything left, maybe he helps them. The defending AL pennant winning Tampa Bay Rays signed David Hess, DAVID HESS to a minor league contract similar to Harvey. Nothing to get worked up over, all teams do it

  11. WorldlyView

    February 15, 2021 at 3:02 pm

    Elias probably glances at their recent stats. However, his overriding strategy seems to be if you sign an infinite number of lukewarm, minimum wage bodies, there is a statistical probability that one of them will undergo a miracle resurrection of their peak talent. Then he adds a generous dose of “Be patient fans, believe in the long-term rebuild, and in the meantime buy tickets.” That’s why he’s paid the big bucks. BTW, if 110 losses is the over/under, I’ll take the over.

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