Taking a guess at the minor league pitching rotations

SARASOTA, Fla. - On Friday we took a shot at projecting the rotation for Single-A Delmarva. It seems the Orioles have discussed using seven pitchers as starters with the Shorebirds. They would pitch as part of a five- or six-man rotation.

The seven that we could see in Salisbury include include 2017 top draft pick left-hander DL Hall along with fellow 2017 picks Zac Lowther, Michael Baumann and Cameron Bishop. They would be joined by 2016 draft picks Matthias Dietz and Brenan Hanifee and 2015 selection Gray Fenter, who returned to pitch last year after Tommy John surgery. That’s a solid group of young arms to take on hitters in the South Atlantic League.

Going off that list, here is a look (and hopefully educated guess) at which pitchers could start the 2018 season in the rotations of the organization’s other three full-season affiliates.

Frederick: Alex Wells, Brian Gonzalez, Ofelky Peralta, Cody Sedlock and Cristian Alvarado project to begin the year in the rotation for Single-A Frederick.

Wells, the club’s 2017 minor league Pitcher of the Year would join four holdover starters from last year’s rotation in Frederick. Wells went 11-5 with a 2.38 ERA for Delmarva last season, with 113 strikeouts and just 10 walks over 140 innings. Sedlock, the club’s 2016 first-round pick, has been healthy this spring, according to a club official. Last season, he had two disabled list stints with a right elbow flexor strain and a forearm strain.

Bowie: Hunter Harvey, Keegan Akin, John Means and Luis Lugo could all wind up starting the year with the Double-A Baysox.

Hunter Harvey throws orange.pngThis is where Harvey seems most likely to start the season, but Frederick is also still possible. We’ve got just four starters here at the moment and it could be that one of the veterans signed to a minor league contract that we saw in big league camp winds up here. Especially if there is a trickle down effect from Baltimore to Norfolk that sends one or more pitchers qualified to pitch at Triple-A back to the Eastern League. Lugo was signed to a minor league deal on Dec. 1 and he went 8-7 with a 4.35 ERA for Akron in the Eastern League in 2017.

Norfolk: Michael Kelly, Yefri Ramirez, David Hess, Alec Asher and lefty Jayson Aquino may make up the season-opening rotation for the Triple-A Tides.

Kelly has thrown 92 innings the last two seasons in the Pacific Coast League. Hess and Ramirez, who both pitched for Bowie last year, would be Triple-A rookies. Asher pitched to a 4.65 ERA in 10 Norfolk starts last season and Aquino had an ERA of 4.24 in 21 Tides starts last summer.

Neither Tanner Scott or Jesus Liranzo have been listed as starters right now. They both were used as starters last season and pitched three-inning outings to help their pitch development and command. There is some internal discussion this spring that both could move back to traditional bullpen roles at Bowie or Norfolk this season. That would have them pitching in the roles they would be used in should they make it to Baltimore - out of the ‘pen. No final decision has been made on this yet, however.

Sparks has missed some camp time: Outfielder Lamar Sparks, the O’s fifth-round draft pick last June, has missed some time in minors camp due to a sore shoulder. An MRA showed there was no structural damage. Sparks hit .241 in 42 games in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League last summer and he is rated as the Orioles’ No. 22 prospect by MLBPipeline.com.

In the Sunshine state: The Sarasota dateline means I have arrived in Florida. The flight in had enough turbulence for most roller coaster rides, but I think that was just an added bonus. The Orioles play two games today as they will split their squad. This afternoon I’ll have coverage of the 1:05 p.m. game versus Boston in Fort Myers. Tonight, Roch Kubatko has you covered for the 6:05 p.m. game in Sarasota with the Phillies. Andrew Cashner gets the start and the game will be televised live on MASN.

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