BOWIE—Last August, the Orioles dealt All-Star reliever Jorge López to the Minnesota Twins for four pitchers. Two were young minor leaguers, Juan Nunez and Juan Rojas, and the other two were record-setting reliever Yennier Cano and left-handed starter Cade Povich.
Cano has retired 32 batters without allowing a hit, a team record, and Povich’s Saturday start for Double-A Bowie also has elevated his profile.
Povich, who was the Twins’ third-round pick in 2021, allowed only one hit in five scoreless innings against Richmond, walking two and striking out 10 while throwing just 68 pitches.
It was Povich’s second strong start this season. On April 15th, he also threw five shutout innings against Akron, giving up two hits, striking out seven.
Povich was invited to major league spring training and the time spent there was valuable.
“I think the biggest thing I got was facing the big hitters, throwing live to Adley [Rutschman] and [Jorge] Mateo,” Povich said. “The biggest part was seeing some of the older guys, [Kyle] Gibson, [Tyler] Wells, how they work through their routine, how they take it day-to-day and ultimately get an insight on what it takes to be a true big leaguer.”
When the 23-year-old was traded to the Orioles’ organization, he threw 12 scoreless innings at High-A Aberdeen, allowing just four hits before a promotion to Bowie.
His first stint with the Baysox was disappointing, going 2-2 with a 6.94 ERA.
“I learned the jump is obviously a lot bigger,” Povich said. “You know at each level there’s going to be a jump, but I think I learned High-A to Double-A is probably one of the bigger jumps.
“I was able to take what I got into the offseason and bringing that towards mental stuff, finding the right workload as far as what it’s going to take me throughout an entire season, but I think overall a lot of it was just mental work, talking with different people, learning how to go day-to-day throughout a long season.”
Povich’s manager with Bowie, Kyle Moore, has noticed a difference between what he saw in 2022 and this season.
“First thing is command. It really impressed me that he can throw a pitch in any count,” Moore said. “He came up from spring training this year and the next thing you know, his fastball went from 92 to 95. I loved him, a lefty with command, then all of a sudden he’s throwing 95, it’s a game-changer. That’s a real big league starter, a ton of feel for his offspeed stuff.
“All of them do that that start in the big leagues, but not all of them throw 92 ½, 93, but then when you talk about the guys out there throwing 95 with that big physical body with offspeed I got super excited.”
Most of the top Orioles prospects are ranked on MLB Pipeline, Baseball America and The Athletic’s Top 100 lists. Povich wasn’t on any of those lists, but he was ranked 54th on ESPN.com’s prospect list, something that flattered and surprised him.
“My dad might have sent me the screenshot, I don’t know,” Povich said. “ I know I wasn’t on any of the other ones. I didn’t know what to think initially … It’s pretty cool … It’s not the ultimate goal to be on the top list. The ultimate goal is to make it to the big leagues. It’s definitely an honor
“I know that somebody believes that I’m that high. It puts a fire on my butt for all the other ones that didn’t put me on it. At the end of the day, it’s not about the list, it’s about continuing to progress, to hopefully make it to the big leagues someday.”
Povich was in major league spring training not only with the Oriole starters, but the pitchers starting for Triple-A Norfolk. More performances like the one on Saturday night should make him a good bet to move up to Triple-A.
“Being a big leaguer and continuing to move up is probably one of the most difficult things you’re going to do,” Povich said. “Ultimately, all I can do is keep working, keep trying to do my best, hopefully show that I’m good enough to continue to crack those rotations and continue to move up.”
Moore is pleased with Povich’s increase in velocity, something that pleases Povich as well.
“Every pitcher is always trying to throw harder,” he said. “Out of college it was definitely an emphasis, but a lot of it was working on mechanics, getting in the weight room and then continuing to mature, fill out a little bit, put on some weight. It’s always an emphasis because guys that throw harder seem to be able to get away with more stuff.
“I think my approach has always been, it’s me against the hitter, I’m going to go out there with my best stuff, whether that’s the fastball, the curveball, the slider, whatever it is.”