A veteran catcher and utility player also haven’t been crossed off the list.
This is going to be a process.
Here are three more pitchers worthy of a blog discussion while waiting for the hot stove to no longer feel cool to the touch:
Orioles manager Buck Showalter predicted early in 2017 that pitcher Jesus Liranzo could have an impact on the club despite the right-hander’s age and inexperience, that he was an ideal dark horse candidate after receiving an invitation to the annual minicamp in Sarasota.
“He looked good,” Showalter said back in January after the final workout at the Ed Smith Stadium complex. “It’s obvious that Ramón (Martinez) is a big fan of Liranzo. He’s spent a lot of time with him. He’s an interesting guy, especially when you think he’s only going to pitch at 22 this year. He’s basically a college senior coming out.
“He’s got a good arm. He’s got those high legs and the big hands and all the things that, if you were a scout and walked in, that guy would get your attention. He’s got a good feel for pitching. Everybody likes him. Our guys have done a great job with some of the physical issues that he’s had when he got here and it looks like that’s behind him, knock on wood.”
The knock on Liranzo this summer revolved around his lack of control, with 43 walks issued in 65 innings in his 31 games at Double-A Bowie. He registered a 1.87 ERA last year in a combined 27 games with Bowie and low Single-A Delmarva, but it rose to 4.85 in 2017.
The offseason didn’t get off to a promising start for Liranzo, who came off the Salt River Rafters roster in the Arizona Fall League after only four appearances due to a sore shoulder. He posted an 11.57 ERA with six runs, seven hits and six walks in 4 2/3 innings.
It’s doubtful that the same high expectations will be placed on Liranzo next year, but that’s fine. He just needs to throw strikes and stay healthy. The rest should take care of itself. He’s an intriguing prospect who took a step backward.
The stats and opinions on Yefry Ramírez don’t always match up.
The Orioles acquired Ramírez, 24, from the Yankees at the non-waiver trade deadline and assigned him to Bowie. He was 10-3 with a 3.41 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 18 starts at Double-A Trenton, including two complete games, and opponents batted .229 against him. He went 5-0 with a 3.66 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in five starts with the Baysox and opponents batted .241 against him.
So why isn’t there more of a buzz surrounding him?
Some people in the organization rate him higher than others do. He has a pretty good changeup, from what I’ve been told, but whether he’s an actual prospect is up for debate.
The Orioles should get a much better read on him next year. They’re expected to invite him to the minicamp, allowing Showalter and pitching coach Roger McDowell to get a closer look at him.
The Yankees’ affiliate in Trenton was so deep that Ramírez, ranked as their 23rd-best prospect by Baseball America, was a backend starter with stats that suggested he could lead a staff. He’ll be worth the international signing bonus slot surrendered in the trade if the numbers don’t lie.
The Orioles need Gabriel Ynoa’s Sept. 21 start against the Rays at Camden Yards to be something other than fool’s gold.
In three other starts for the Orioles during the month, Ynoa allowed nine earned runs (10 total) and 17 hits in only 12 innings. But he held the Rays to one run over a career-high eight innings in a rare win for a team that fell apart down the stretch.
Making his sixth career start, Ynoa gave up a run in the third inning on Brad Miller’s leadoff double and Daniel Robertson’s single. The Rays didn’t get another hit until Robertson’s infield single with one out in the eighth. Ynoa retired 12 of 13 before Robertson reached.
Ynoa effectively mixed his slider with a 95 mph sinking fastball, and he barely used his changeup. It was a masterful performance that he followed by allowing four runs and five hits over three innings in Pittsburgh. Gregory Polanco and Josh Bell homered off him.
To say the jury is out on Ynoa would provide a pretty accurate read.
Scouts in spring training wondered why the Mets let go of such an impressive arm. The Orioles wondered why it produced a 5.25 ERA and 1.439 WHIP in 21 starts with Triple-A Norfolk.
Ynoa made five starts with Gigantes del Cibao in the Dominican Winter League and allowed 12 earned runs (13 total) and 22 hits in 17 1/3 innings. He did toss four scoreless innings against Estrellas.
The Orioles are likely to stay in-house to fill at least one vacancy in their rotation and Ynoa, who’s out of minor league options, will be invited into the competition. But which version will they get?
The Rays in late September might not be the most accurate gauge.