When spring training begins, the Orioles must sift through a number of candidates for their bullpen. There are probably eight spots available. On Wednesday, we looked at the top returning candidates. Today, we’ll look at some of the new arrivals and a few who pitched in 2021.
Background: The 6-foot-6, 245-pound right-hander was claimed on waivers from Toronto on November 8, 2021.
Baker’s 2021: After going 6-1 with 11 saves and a 1.31 ERA in 39 games for Triple-A Buffalo, Baker made his major league debut with a scoreless inning on September 5th.
Outlook: With some spots up for grabs, Baker will get a look in spring training. His Triple-A stats (1 home run in 41 1/3 innings) were impressive.
Background: Bautista has been in the Orioles’ system since 2016 but hadn’t pitched above Low-A until 2021.
Bautista’s 2021: The 6-foot-5, 26-year-old right-hander pitched for High-A Aberdeen, Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk and was a combined 1-6 with a 1.54 ERA. Bautista had 11 saves, allowed two home runs in 46 2/3 innings. He struck out 77 and walked 30.
Outlook: Bautista’s fascinating stat line helped earn him a spot on the 40-man roster. He might not start the season with the Orioles, but with the team’s propensity to burn through relievers, he’s likely to see time in Baltimore in 2022.
Background: Diplán, a 25-year-old right-hander, was acquired on waivers from Detroit on December 9, 2919.
Diplán’s 2021: Diplán made his major league debut last season, going 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA in 23 games. He didn’t allow a hit in his first four appearances (6 2/3 innings) or an earned run in his first seven (11 1/3) but gave up 15 earned runs in his last 16 outings. He was removed from the 40-man roster but will be back in spring training as a non-roster player.
Outlook: Not counting position players, the Orioles used 35 relievers in 2021. If they use that many in 2022, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Diplán was one of them.
Background: The Orioles signed the 24-year-old right-hander as a free agent in June. He pitched in the Milwaukee organization in 2018 and 2019.
Gillaspie’s 2021: Gillaspie was 0-2 with two saves and a 3.77 ERA, striking out 16 and walking three in 14 1/3 innings at Aberdeen and 1-1 with two saves and a 5.60 ERA, striking out 36 and walking eight in 27 1/3 innings for Bowie. Gillaspie was 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in Mesa of the Arizona Fall League. He did strike out 18 in 14 innings but walked seven.
Outlook: Gillaspie’s addition to the 40-man roster was a bigger surprise than Bautista’s. Since there are many other candidates for the bullpen and he has pitched at Triple-A, it’s likely he starts at Norfolk but should get a shot at the major leagues later in the season.
Background: The 29-year-old right-hander was acquired on waivers from Tampa Bay on September 21, 2021.
Krehbiel’s 2021: Krehbiel allowed four runs on five hits in five games for the Orioles. His first three outings (4 1/3 innings) were scoreless.
Outlook: The Orioles haven’t seen much of Krehbiel, but he stayed on the 40-man roster. It will be interesting to see if he stays on through spring training.
Background: The 27-year-old right-hander was acquired on waivers from the Chicago Cubs on January 31, 2020. Lakins was 3-2 with a save and a 2.81 ERA in 22 games in 2020.
Lakins’ 2021: Lakins suffered a right elbow injury on June 29th that required surgery. He was 1-4 with a 5.79 ERA in 28 innings. Lakins walked 17 in 28 innings.
Outlook: Lakins was outrighted to Norfolk after the season and will get an invitation to spring training. Late last season, the Orioles said they expected Lakins to be healthy for spring training.
Background: Mattson was acquired in December 2019 from the Los Angeles Angels in the trade for starter Dylan Bundy.
Mattson’s 2021: Mattson pitched in four games for the Orioles, one each in May, July, August and October, allowing three runs in 4 1/3 innings.
Outlook: Mattson is one of a number of relievers the Orioles will look at this spring.
Background: Pérez, a 25-year-old left-hander, was acquired on waivers from Cincinnati on November 24th. The Cuban was signed by Houston in September 2016 when Mike Elias was in the Astros’ front office. He was was 1-1 with a 5.74 ERA in 20 games with Houston from 2018-202.
Pérez’s 2021: He was 1-2 with a 6.38 ERA in 24 innings. He struck out 25 but walked 20, an average of 7.5 per nine innings.
Outlook: While many of the Orioles’ starting candidates are left-handed, only Paul Fry and Tanner Scott are left-handed relievers, though it’s possible that some of the starting candidates will be sent to the bullpen. Pérez could provide left-handed depth, especially if he solves his control issues.
The Orioles might add a candidate in the Rule 5 draft, which has been delayed because of the lockout. They also might have additional relievers on minor league contracts invited to spring training.
Orioles place 5 in Baseball America rankings: Catcher Adley Rutschman is the No. 1 prospect in Baseball America’s top 100 prospect list. He’s one of five Orioles in the top 100.
Grayson Rodriguez is rated as the sixth-highest prospect overall, and the top-rated pitcher.
Left-hander DL Hall is rated 52nd, infielder Gunnar Henderson is rated 57th, and outfielder Colton Cowser is 98th.
Hall (2017), Rodriguez (2018), Rutschman (2019) and Cowser (2021) were first-round picks. Henderson was the Orioles’ second-round pick in 2019. The Orioles were one of eight teams to have five top 100 prospects. Arizona and Pittsburgh were the only teams with six.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB