Most Orioles fans are now well aware that the low Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds are off to a phenomenal start to the 2018 season. One of the big reasons why has been their starting pitching and right-hander Michael Baumann has led their stout rotation.
Baumann, 22, was selected by the Orioles last June in the third round of the First-Year Player Draft out of Jacksonville University. It marked the second straight year the O’s used their third-round pick on a Jacksonville player after selecting Austin Hays the previous year.
The 6-foot-4, 225-lb. Baumann has a presence on the mound and uses a four-pitch mix. His fastball normally sits in the 92-94 mph range, though I have seen him hit 97 mph on a number of occasions. He also has a curveball, changeup and a solid slider to help keep hitters off-balance.
The ace of the Delmarva staff, Baumann has been absolutely dominating for the Shorebirds in the South Atlantic League. Over seven starts thus far, Baumann is a perfect 5-0 with a 1.42 ERA and a minuscule 0.95 WHIP over 38 innings. In addition, he has held opponents to a .180 batting average while striking out 47.
He already has three starts this year where he has failed to yield an earned run and has not allowed more than two earned runs in any of his seven starts.
His most recent start on Monday, which was on MiLB.tv, was his best yet. He tossed seven shutout innings, while allowing just two hits, no walks and striking out eight. I love MiLB.tv, and it was great being able to watch him on the mound. I was very impressed with the way he was pounding the strike zone, and making hitters earn their way on base. The Shorebirds won the game 1-0, by the way.
Earning the win on Monday, Baumann leads the Sally League with five wins, while also ranking fourth in both strikeouts and ERA, and ninth in WHIP.
It’s also nice to see Baumann continue right where he left off in 2017. Overall in 2017 for the short-season Single-A Aberdeen Ironbirds, Baumann went 4-2 with a 1.31 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP over 10 games (nine starts) and 41 1/3 innings pitched (he also pitched one shutout inning in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League). Over those 41 1/3 innings, Baumann struck out 41, while walking 19. Hitters did not stand much of a chance against him, owning just a .168 batting average against him.
I wondered over the offseason if the Orioles would elect to do what they did with Keegan Akin and Cody Sedlock the year before: elect to have Baumann go straight to the high Single-A Frederick Keys. I am glad they chose not to, but now that Baumann is showing he can dominate the South Atlantic League, a promotion to the Carolina League and the Keys could be soon on the horizon.
Whether he gets that promotion during the season or not, one thing is for certain: There is a lot to like about Michael Baumann.
Josh Michael blogs about the Orioles for Baby Birdland. Follow him on Twitter: @BabyBirdland. His opinions on the Orioles will appear here as part of MASNsports.com’s longstanding initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.