When the Orioles presented their minor league awards on Saturday night at Camden Yards, they also recognized one of the 15 players they got in the July trades. That was 22-year-old right-handed pitcher Dean Kremer.
Kremer got recognition for leading the minors in strikeouts. That is the entire minor leagues this year at all classifications. No one fanned more than Kremer, who struck out 178 batters over 131 1/3 innings pitching in two organizations for three different teams.
He began the year in the Dodgers organization and made 16 starts in the Single-A California League, where he averaged 13 strikeouts per nine innings. Before he was traded to the Orioles he made one Double-A start for the Dodgers, fanning 11 in seven innings. And then after the Orioles acquired him in the package of players for Manny Machado on July 18, the Orioles assigned him to Double-A Bowie.
Kremer threw well for the Orioles. In eight Bowie starts, he went 4-2 with a 2.58 ERA and he had three scoreless starts. In 45 1/3 innings, he walked 17, fanned 53 and had a .228 average against. Overall this year, Kremer made 25 starts and was 10-5 with a 2.88 ERA, .225 average against and 1.17 WHIP.
His fastball worked between 91 and 95 mph, sometimes touching more and his curveball was very solid. Kremer is rated the No. 16 O’s prospect by MLBPipeline.com which puts a 60-grade (on the 20-80 scouting scale) on his fastball and a 55 on his curve.
During a press conference with the award winners Saturday, I asked him how he got all those strikeouts this year. His answer showed that Kremer used a combination of quality stuff and big-time smarts to get all those swings and misses.
“I worked really hard with the guys in spring training,” he said. “My main thing was landing my curveball early (in the count) and then be able to put them away late with that pitch and a fastball up. That is really the combination that worked well for me this year.
“Just competing and I really wanted to, during spring training we worked on tunneling and sequencing and recognizing bat paths and stuff of that nature. That is really what I think did it for me.”
Tunneling is a concept where two different pitches take the same path and look the same to the hitter as the ball approaches the plate and he has to make a decision which pitch he’s seeing. Wrong decisions can lead to swings and misses and strikeouts.
Kremer showed he could adapt to new challenges this year, pitching in three leagues and fitting in well with his new organization and team at Bowie after the trade.
“I wouldn’t say (there was) one key, baseball is baseball. No matter where you play, the game doesn’t change. It’s just the atmosphere changes a bit as you go up - it gets more competitive. Just tried to stay consistent and compete every time I went out there.”
He sure did that and his savvy and smarts impressed the Orioles Dan Duquette who talked about Kremer’s pitching acumen during an interview on “Orioles Baseball Tonight” Sunday on 105.7 F.M. the Fan.
“That (acumen) was evident to anyone that heard him talk about pitching last night. Here is a kid that was on three different teams and started the season in A-ball in the California League. When asked how he struck all those hitters out he went into intimate detail about how he struck them out.
“About how he worked on landing his curve early in the count in spring training and also tunneling his pitches. So he would throw the high fastball up in the strikezone and then leverage that for the hitter to make an early decision with the curveball coming in later on in the count. He’s got the good stuff and is a really intelligent kid,” said Duquette.
About last night: We knew loss No. 107 was coming and it arrived last night for the Orioles, who were shutout 5-0 by Toronto. The loss tied the club record for losses in a season set by the 1988 Orioles. Unless this group goes 12-0 to end the year, they’ll break that record with their next loss.
Toronto began the day tied with Detroit for the fewest shutouts in the majors with two each but now they’ve got three. The Orioles were shutout for the 15th time and 11th at home. Baltimore has been blanked in two of the last three games and three of the past six.
On this homestand, which began last Tuesday, the Orioles have scored two, zero, five, six, zero, eight and zero. So yeah, inconsistent.
While the Blue Jays hit three homers last night, the Orioles had three total hits - all singles. Lefty Ryan Borucki went eight innings with seven strikeouts on 105 pitches and is 4-4 with an ERA of 3.86.
When the Orioles swept three straight from Toronto on Aug. 27-29 in Baltimore, they scored 29 runs on 41 hits and went 18-for-38 (.474) with runners in scoring position. Last night they went 3-for-29 at-bat and went 0-4 with runners in scoring position.
Jonathan Villar had one of those hits and when he singled in the fourth, he stole second and third base. It was his third multi-steal game of the year and he is now 28-for-32 (.875) on steal attempts, including going 14-for-16 (.875) since joining the Orioles. His 14 steals since Aug. 1 are third-most in the American League in this stretch.