So which Orioles minor league pitcher has the most strikeouts this year?
You might guess Mike Wright or Eduardo Rodriguez, Zach Davies or maybe Kevin Gausman.
But the correct answer is Single-A Delmarva right-hander Parker Bridwell, who has fanned 141 in 138 2/3 innings.
Bridwell, who just turned 22 on Aug. 2, was drafted by the Orioles in the ninth round out of Hereford (Tex.) High School in 2010.
Three starts ago, on Aug. 16 against Lakewood at Salisbury’s Perdue Stadium, Bridwell pitched one of the best games in Delmarva franchise history.
Over eight shutout innings, he gave up just two hits with no walks and 14 strikeouts. That was the most strikeouts by a Shorebirds hurler since Erik Bedard fanned 14 during the 2000 season.
Overall this year, Bridwell is 8-9 with a 4.67 ERA over 25 starts. But Bridwell has had nine starts this year allowing one earned run or less. He is showing his vast potential, but lacking consistency.
Over his last 10 starts he has allowed 10 runs, followed by zero, six, zero, zero, eight, four, zero, two and two. That is one up-and-down ride.
“If you’re a scout and you see him on the right day, you absolutely love him. But if you are reading a stats page, you might not give it a second look,” O’s director of player development Brian Graham said.
But Graham knows that the talent is there and said it is simply inconsistent command that is the reason Bridwell has some great games and some very poor ones.
“Absolutely. Without question that is the No. 1 thing,” Graham said.
“That is what young pitchers do. They lack consistency. As pitchers mature, the consistency is the ability to command the fastball, throw the breaking ball for a strike and throw a changeup behind in the count. That is a development program for young pitchers. Parker Bridwell is a young pitcher with a good arm that is still in development mode.”
Over his last four starts, Bridwell has found some consistency, pitching to an ERA of 2.08 with just five walks and 30 strikeouts over 26 innings.
“He pitches from 89 to 95 (mph), with life and sink. Plus arm, very athletic, plus strength. Good breaking ball. Needs improved command of all three pitches,” Graham said.
So when Bridwell has a big strikeout game, is he just blowing the ball by young batters?
“It is interesting in that he strikes hitters out with his fastball,” Graham said. “Which, for me, is a huge plus for a pitcher when a pitcher can strike hitters out in the strike zone with their fastball. That suggests they have command and life, deception, angle. There are a lot of things that go into that.”
Even though he is pitching with Delmarva for the second year in a row and has modest season stats, Bridwell must have opened some eyes with that 14-strikeout game. Now he will look to find more consistency as he continues to develop and tries to work his way up the O’s minor league ladder.
Graham said it is certainly not a stretch to say Bridwell has one of the better arms on the O’s farm.
“He does have one of the better arms and is one of the most athletic pitchers we have. For Parker, it is a matter of consistency,” he said.
All-Star notes: Single-A Frederick Keys catcher Michael Ohlman has been named to the Carolina League’s postseason All-Star team. He is batting .307 with 28 doubles, 13 homers, 52 RBIs and a .930 OPS. Ohlman will play in the Arizona Fall League starting Oct. 8.
Bowie catcher Caleb Joseph has been named an All-Star in the Double-A Eastern League. Over 129 games, Joseph is batting .298 with 30 doubles, 20 homers, 94 RBIs and an .833. OPS. Joseph is batting .326 since the All-Star break and .350 in 26 games in August.