Mychal Givens, the Orioles' second-round draft pick in 2009, is officially moving to the mound. After playing three seasons in the club's minor leagues as an infielder, Givens will begin his life as a pitcher when spring training begins in Sarasota, a club official confirmed this afternoon.
Givens, drafted 54th overall by the club out of Plant High School in Tampa, Fla., and signed to an $800,000 bonus, had just not progressed much as a hitter. Save for a few at-bats, he had not advanced past Single-A Delmarva after three seasons, with a career batting average of .247, a slugging percentage of .311 and OPS of .642.
With Delmarva in 2012, Givens batted .243 with two homers, 27 RBIs and an OPS of .636 in 100 games, playing mostly at shortstop.
The Orioles feel that, at this point, Givens has a better chance to make the majors as a pitcher. They were going to begin his conversion to the mound last September during instructional league workouts, but Givens was dealing with some tendinitis at that time and was shut down.
There was some debate whether Givens should play a position or be developed as a pitcher when the O's selected him in the summer of 2009. Here is an excerpt from Baseball America's scouting report on Givens back then:
"He has a strong, athletic body and physical frame, with elite tools including one of the best arms in the draft. He's reached 97 mph off the mound in short bursts and still shows above-average velocity from a low arm slot, pitching Plant High deep into the state playoffs. While some scouts do like him better on the mound, most see him as a reliever and see more value as a position player."
It seems the Orioles feel the time is right to move Givens, so starting with spring training the right-hander, who turns 23 in May, will be tried as a pitcher.