There’s no use trying to sugarcoat what the Orioles are going through this season. It’s bad, and has the potential to get worse. They remain the only team in baseball without at least 20 wins nearly midway through June. They are near the bottom in run differential along with every major offensive category and many of the pitching and defensive categories, as well. The snowball is officially rolling down the hill.
Many have already called for the young guys to come up and take the place of players who are either struggling or could be on their way out the door. While that sounds nice on the surface, if for no other reason than it brings change to a monotonous season, it may not be very feasible for the Orioles. Many of the O’s outfield prospects are struggling mightily this year. There aren’t a whole bunch of infield prospects to speak of. The main two young players at catcher are already up. And now, the biggest fish in the pitching pond for the Birds is dealing with injury once again.
Hunter Harvey, the 2013 first-round pick out of Bandys High School in North Carolina, is dealing with a right shoulder injury. The 23-year-old was scheduled to start for Double-A Bowie on Friday but was pulled with what the O’s are calling “posterior shoulder instability.” I’m no doctor, but that doesn’t sound good. It had been thought that Harvey would be a candidate to get some innings at the big league level later this season, but even before this latest setback, his numbers were not stellar. He is 1-2 with a 5.57 ERA in nine starts with the Baysox, but has posted 32 1/3 innings. That’s significant, because it’s more than he’s pitched in the previous three calendar years combined. Harvey has dealt with a slew of injuries, including having Tommy John surgery in July 2016. He was recalled by the Orioles on April 9 of this year, but did not appear in a game and was optioned two days later. It’s obvious he’s in the plans for the future, but those plans are now that much murkier.
There are other pitching prospects to wonder and muse about within the Orioles system, but none quite as polished or prepared for a jump as Harvey. Keegan Akin, Brenan Hanifee, DL Hall, Cody Sedlock and Michael Baumann are all either pitching at low levels of the minors or injured at the moment. David Hess has been a bright spot at the big league level, but fans at this point, in watching a 19-45 ballclub, want more of a look at the future.
Part of the work toward the future was done last week at the draft, but what remains an unanswered question is who will be formulating those future plans going forward. Both Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter are in their contract years. We’re not only talking immediate future, as in over the next year, but also beyond that. For now, Harvey remains an integral part of that future. But that future also is a large doubt, and it may not be up to him or the Orioles for that matter. It could all be left up to something out of everyone’s control - his health.
Andrew Stetka blogs about the Orioles for Eutaw Street Report. Follow him on Twitter: @AStetka. His thoughts on the O’s appear here as part of MASNsports.com’s continuing commitment to welcome guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. 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.