The Orioles selected the contract of right-handed pitcher Jay Flaa from the alternate training site at Bowie on Monday and optioned left-handed pitcher Zac Lowther to Bowie.
Lowther was recalled before Sunday’s game and pitched a scoreless ninth inning against Oakland.
“He pitched really well yesterday, and I know that he’ll be back soon,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “It’s just one of those things. He’s early in his career, young, looking forward to having him back here at some point.”
Flaa, who was the Orioles’ sixth-round draft choice in 2015, is 15-10 with a 3.41 ERA in 165 games in the minor leagues. In 2019, Flaa pitched for Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk with a record of 2-5 with five saves and a 4.69 ERA.
The 28-year-old right-hander is a native of Bismarck, North Dakota and would be the 20th major league player from North Dakota. Flaa was a college classmate with Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz at North Dakota State.
Flaa was never on a top-prospect list. This is his first time on a major league 40-man roster.
“I’d like to think that a lot of guys see me as an example of somebody that came from under the radar,” he said. “How fast things can change. I went to bed last night as a regular minor leaguer, and I woke up this morning and my life changed forever. Things can happen that fast. For me to have it pay off is unbelievable.”
Flaa will take the role that Hyde indicated Lowther would fill.
“He can give us multiple innings.,” Hyde said. “The bullpen has been pretty taxed here the last few days. To have somebody that hasn’t pitched in a couple of days that can pick up a couple of innings for us.
“That’s why we went with Jay. I’m excited to see Jay. He’s a guy that’s been in the organization for a while, and he’s really grinded it out in the minor leagues, at the upper levels. He’s pumped to be here. It was fun to see him today.”
Hyde said that Flaa visited him when he arrived.
“He had a big smile on his face,” Hyde said. “I’ve known Jay from the last few spring trainings. He’s been one of our backups, a lot. I really like him a lot. He’s really well-liked by all the players and the coaches in the organization.
“He’s a pro. You feel great for somebody like that that’s really put their time in, that’s rode the buses, the early morning flights in Triple-A. To call yourself a big leaguer, that’s a special moment.”
Flaa learned the news on Monday morning when Norfolk manager Gary Kendall called to congratulate him.
“I thought he was messing around with me,” Flaa said. “I asked if he was serious, and he said, ‘obviously, I wouldn’t joke around about that.’ It was a pretty big shock to me.”
Flaa said “it was the feeling of a lot of hard work coming to fruition and seeing all the work that I put in this offseason and trying to reinvent myself as a pitcher. In their eyes, they started to recognize me, so for me, that was everything.”
Flaa worked on increasing his velocity during the offseason and “just cleaning some things up as a pitcher, mechanically, mentally, everything like that. In spring training, it was really important to hit the ground running as far as how I was feeling in the offseason. I think that showed in their eyes, I was somebody that was a different pitcher than in years past.”
It’s likely there will be lots of movement among pitchers this season.
“As an organization, we’re going to use a lot of pitchers this year,” Hyde said. “Look around, and it’s pretty much league-wide right now, a lot of pitching transactions, just to stay fresh. Right now, a lot of these guys have pitched quite a bit this past week. To get a fresh arm up here was important. You’ll see a lot of pitching from Triple-A. It’s just going to be that kind of year.”