Coming off some dominating performances late last year and after a winter of workouts near his Orange County, Calif., home, O’s minor league pitcher Dan Klein is now ready for his first full professional season.
Klein, the O’s second pick in last June’s draft, which came in round three, reported to minor league camp at Twin Lakes Park in Sarasota, Fla., on Sunday
Some O’s fans had to be excited about Klein’s potential when he pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings in five appearances for Short Season Single-A Aberdeen last August. He gave up just one hit and one walk with 11 strikeouts. Opponent batters went just 1-for-21 against him.
“I had a great time there, got my feet wet and got to know some of the guys and coaches. It was fun,” the 22-year-old right-hander said.
As we reported last week, Klein is expected to work out of the bullpen this season after throwing just 58 1/3 innings last season between UCLA and Aberdeen.
After he missed the 2009 college season with shoulder soreness, Klein underwent an arthroscopic procedure and returned last year for the Bruins and was one of college baseball’s best closers. He went 6-1 with an ERA of 1.90 and 10 saves. Over 52 innings, he gave up just 39 hits with 11 walks and 55 strikeouts.
The O’s then selected Klein with the third pick of the third round, 85th overall. His signing bonus of $499,900 was larger than that given to six second round picks and was the O’s fourth highest bonus.
Klein said he is excited to have a bullpen role this season.
“I loved it (last season). It was my first time being a true closer. I loved the late innings and felt real comfortable there and had a great routine. My body feels great, my arm feels great. My arm is as healthy as can be right now,” he said.
“In the future, I have no problem with starting. It’s probably going to happen at some point. For now, this will help me get established and see what I can do. Just to get my feet wet a little bit.”
The Orioles drafted Klein in round 24 in 2007, but he didn’t sign then and went off to college. Coming out of Anaheim’s Servite High he had plenty of offers to play quarterback in college, but opted for the mound instead.
“I’m a four-pitch guy,” he said, providing a scouting report on himself. “Fastball is usually in the lower 90s, about 90 to 93. I throw a lot of two-seam fastballs and like to go in on righties a lot. Big thing with me is I can throw four pitches for strikes and that’s what I pride myself in. Being able to throw what I want when I want.”
In addition to the fastball, Klein throws a slider, change and knuckle-curve, a pitch he has thrown for many years.
“I actually started throwing that when I was probably 12 years old, just messing around,” Klein said. “I was messing with grips and my dad wouldn’t let me throw a real curveball when I was younger. It worked pretty good then and just stayed with me. It’s usually a 12-6 pitch. It’s a strikeout pitch but all four pitches help me out when I need them.
“I talked to the Aberdeen coaches and Scotty McGregor talked to me about establishing my fastball more. I do like to work off that, but have four pitches to throw.”
A West Coast guy, Klein said he had never even been to Florida before his arrival the other day. Now he looks forward to a full year of pro ball and facing hitters using wood bats.
“The experience I got with UCLA was real helpful for me like going to (the College World Series in) Omaha, playing in front of large crowds and against elite teams. And coach (John) Savage always prepares his guys for the next level. Pitchers have success after working with him. He really helped me a lot, both mentally and physically. A lot of guys are successful at the next level because of his tutelage,” Klein said.