SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles made four camp cuts today following their 7-1 loss to the Tigers. They optioned pitcher Jesus Liranzo to Double-A Bowie and reassigned outfielder Logan Schafer, infielder/outfielder David Washington and catcher Austin Wynns to minor league camp.
The spring roster is down to 46 players, and two more cuts are expected on Monday. There are 12 non-roster invitees remaining.
Liranzo gave up a two-run homer to John Hicks in the ninth inning and hit two batters, but it wasn’t representative of his spring. Put on the 40-man roster before the Rule 5 draft, Liranzo made a solid impression by allowing only one run and two hits in his first seven outings and striking out nine batters in seven innings before today.
Liranzo’s fastball has topped out at 99 mph this spring and he just turned 22 earlier this month.
“He hit two guys today. Didn’t like that. But I liked the fact that it didn’t affect him,” said manager Buck Showalter. “After he hit the first guy, I turned to Roger (McDowell) and said, ‘This is going to be an interesting first pitch.’ The next pitch was a fastball strike. And he didn’t sit there and seem overly sorry about hitting them. Does that make any sense?
“If he stays healthy he’s going to be a contributor.”
The Orioles sent Liranzo to Bowie in order to develop a track record of throwing the ball over the plate consistently. He walked seven batters in eight innings this spring and walked 12 in 18 2/3 innings with the Baysox last summer after moving up from low Single-A Delmarva.
“You can get fooled in spring training,” Showalter said. “He had good command here with the exception of today some. We’ll see if he can take the next step. He’s 22. He’ll start there.
“We’ve done a good job in the organization I think of developing relief pitchers. We’ve got to do a better job of developing starting pitchers.”
Schafer was 3-for-31 in Grapefruit League games, but Showalter raved about his defense, especially in center field. Washington was 3-for-21 with a double and two long home runs, including a walk-off. Wynns arrived late in camp due to an ankle injury, but Showalter is impressed with his work behind the plate.
Kevin Gausman threw five scoreless innings today, allowing only two hits and striking out eight. He threw first-pitch strikes to 12 of his first 15 batters.
“Really good,” Showalter said. “First guy to get to five. Got his pitch count actually where we wanted to get it, a little bit below 80. He was really good, especially when you consider the hitting conditions today. You won’t see a better outing with a gale blowing out.”
Gausman is in his fifth camp with the Orioles, making him a spring veteran and certainly more comfortable with each passing year.
“Oh, yeah. There’s a lot of things different about him in his life,” Showalter said. “He got married, kind of established himself as one of those guys that’s at the back of the process where he’s in a position to really move forward with his career in a lot of ways. So many things that young pitchers have to go through that he’s kind of got behind him, very similar to Dylan (Bundy).”
Asked what Gausman has to do in order to keep his pitch count down and get deeper into games, Showalter replied, “A lot of what he did today.”
“He had a lot of counts in his favor,” Showalter said. “A good example, he went 0-2 on a guy and so many times you see a couple of pitches thrown from guys that serve no purpose. They’re a ball right out of their hand, and he dotted a fastball away for strike three. That’s the type of thing you’ve got to do. Some weak contact early in the count. And he was carrying command of three pitches today, so that won’t happen much during the season for any pitcher.”
Showalter often speaks of “the process,” which he believes will allow Gausman and Bundy to take the next step.
“I’ve said it a hundred times, if you try to cheat that process you’re going to get burned,” Showalter said. “We want it to happen so fast, especially in today’s game, because pitching - especially young affordable pitching with upside - is such a commodity everybody’s looking for. Especially us. We’ve got to develop our own pitchers or we won’t be able to survive.”