Félix Bautista was given the role as Orioles’ closer when the team traded Jorge López to Minnesota on August 2nd. In his first season in the major leagues, Bautista is 3-3 with a 1.65 earned-run average and six saves. He has struck out 64, walked 16 and allowed just 29 hits in 49 innings.
The 27-year-old right-hander spoke about his role and life with the big leagues with translation provided by Brandon Quinones, the team’s bilingual media and logistics coordinator.
Question: How are you adapting to the role of closer?
Answer: “I’ve really liked it. It’s been my objective since I’ve gotten up here to the major leagues. It’s been a dream of mine to be a closer, and I’m really happy that I’m being able to do it now.”
Q: Is there a difference between being a closer and being a setup man in how you approach the game?
A: “I do feel like there’s a difference between pitching the eighth and the ninth. I just feel like pitching in the ninth, everything is much more magnified and if you make a mistake that can really cost you the game later in the game. There’s a bit more pressure pitching in the ninth.”
Q: In the minor leagues, you walked many more batters than you have this season. What have you done to improve your control?
A: “A lot of preparation went on during the offseason, just focusing on attacking the zone more and realizing that they’re not going to hit me. They have to hit the ball … just trusting in my stuff. I have to pound the strike zone and trust my stuff.”
Q: At the beginning of the season, very few people thought the Orioles were going to be a good team. Why do you think you’ve proven them wrong?
A: “I know a lot of people have been surprised by our performance this year, but I’m not surprised by it one bit. I know just how capable this group is. I know how together we all are. We’re only going to keep getting better. That’s the goal long term, and I know that for this season, we’re definitely vying for a playoff spot, and that’s the goal.”
Q: What’s your favorite thing about being a major leaguer?
A: “Everything, but especially the game. That’s the most fun part, the most fun thing about being in the major leagues.”
Q: You’re listed as 190 pounds. How much do you really weigh?
A: “Right now, I’m about 285, 290.” (He’s also listed as 6 feet 5 instead of 6-8).
Q: So, have you enjoyed big league meals and have you found any new things you like to eat?
A: “I usually like any type of food that they put out, but I’ve started to control myself a little bit because I noticed that I can put on a few pounds very quickly.”
Ranking Oriole prospects: ESPN has five Orioles in its latest top 50 prospect list. Third baseman Gunnar Henderson is ranked as the second-best prospect, Grayson Rodriguez is seventh and the top pitching prospect, shortstop Jackson Holliday (30), centerfielder Colton Cowser (43) and third baseman Coby Mayo (45) are the others.
Shortstop Jordan Westburg is EPN’s top prospect outside the top 50.
Arizona Diamondbacks minor league centerfielder Corbin Carroll is the overall top-ranked prospect.
In Baseball America’s updated Top 30 organizational prospect list, Henderson, who is listed as a shortstop, is first; Rodriguez second; Holliday third,;left-hander DL Hall fourth; Cowser fifth; Westburg sixth; and Mayo seventh.
The rest of the top 30: Outfielder Heston Kjerstad (8), outfielder Dylan Beavers (9), right-hander Seth Johnson (10), outfielder Kyle Stowers (11), second baseman Connor Norby (12), shortstop Maikol Hernandez (13), second baseman Terrin Vavra (14), outfielder Hudson Haskin (15), second baseman César Prieto (16), right-handed pitcher Chayce McDermott (17), left-hander Drew Rom (18), catcher Samuel Basallo (19), outfielder John Rhodes (20), third baseman Max Wagner (21), right-hander Michael Baumann (22), outfielder Jud Fabian (23), right-hander Carter Baumler (24), outfielder Reed Trimble (25), right-handers Jéan Pinto (26) and Chris Vallimont (27), shortstop Joey Ortiz (28), left-hander Cade Povich (29) and right-hander Logan Gillaspie (30).
Notes: Outfielder Luis Valdez, who had 56 stolen bases for Single-A Delmarva, has been promoted to High-A Aberdeen. … Nine players have been sent from the Shorebirds to the Florida Complex League Orioles: outfielder Stiven Acevdeo, right-handers Darlin Alcantara, Harol Arias, Hugo Beltran and Angel Vargas, catchers Brayan Hernandez and Michael Mantacon and infielders Roberto Martinez and Arinson Placencia. Left-hander Eduard Monroy and right-hander Miguel Padilla were released by Delmarva.
Call for questions: I’ll be answering Orioles questions this week. Please email your questions to: [email protected]