The Orioles had a surplus of quality minor league infield prospects and they were still seeking a pitcher to slot into their 2023 big league rotation, especially a lefty. Today those two added up to a deal where the Orioles acquired lefty starter Cole Irvin and Single-A right-hander Kyle Virbitsky from the Athletics in exchange for minor league shortstop Darell Hernaiz.
In the deal, the O’s gave up a top 30 prospect – Hernaiz was No. 16 via MLBPipeline.com – but they also acquired a pitcher that has averaged 180 innings the last two years with an ERA of 4.11. He has made 62 starts the last two seasons, but still has four years of team control remaining and will not even be arbitration eligible until after the coming 2023 season.
Here are a few more notes on the new O’s lefty after the deal was officially announced by the Orioles this afternoon:
* Irvin went 9-13 with a 3.93 ERA last year over 181 innings. He recorded strong numbers in WHIP (1.160) and walk rate (1.8) while making 15 quality starts. He produced 1.4 fWAR to rank second among A’s pitchers.
* An A’s beat writer tweeted today that Irvin was likely going to be Oakland’s opening day starting pitcher this year.
* He is a soft-tossing lefty (90.7 mph on his four-seamer) but with strong walk rates and is very pitch efficient. His 14.4 pitches per inning were the second-fewest in the American League, while his 1.79 BB/9 ratio ranked sixth-best among qualified AL hurlers. That walk rate was 18th-best in the major leagues last year among pitchers throwing 100 innings or more. He walked two or fewer batters in 29 of his 30 starts in 2022.
* Irvin had Tommy John surgery in college at the University of Oregon and missed the 2014 season. Reports said his fastball lost some velocity after that, as it had been touching 93 mph then. He missed a couple of weeks last May with shoulder soreness, but still finished 12th in the AL in innings pitched.
* Last year, he pitched better at home than on the road. His ERA was 3.07 in Oakland and 5.26 in road games. His homer rate, which was 0.51 per nine at home, was 2.27 away from Oakland. He will of course get the benefit of the deeper left-field wall in Camden Yards, which was moved back before last season.
* In one career game in Baltimore, he is 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA, allowing a run over 5 1/3 innings.
* In 2022, he threw his four-seam fastball 36 percent of the time (at 90.7 mph), his two-seam sinker 23 percent (at 90.3), while using his curveball 21 percent, changeup 18 percent and cutter two percent.
The Orioles now have six pitchers that made 20 or more MLB starts last year:
31 – Kyle Gibson
30 – Cole Irvin
23 – Tyler Wells, Kyle Bradish
21 – Dean Kremer
20 – Spenser Watkins
And now the battle for rotation spots is on as others are added to the above group like Grayson Rodriguez, Austin Voth, DL Hall, Bruce Zimmermann, Mike Baumann and later John Means coming back from surgery to name just a few.
Gunnar is No. 1, again: For the third time in eight days, an outlet has ranked the Orioles' Gunnar Henderson as the No. 1 prospect in baseball. Tonight MLBPipeline.com, during a live announcement on MLB Network, rated Henderson atop its list of the top 100 prospects in the sport.
And on that list, the Orioles have three players ranked in the first 12, four among the top 40 and eight ranked among the top 99. Getting eight on this list matches the number of players the Orioles put on the Baseball America top 100 released last week. They also had eight players ranked among the Baseball Prospectus top 101 and Henderson topped all three lists.
Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez, who went 6-1 with a 2.20 ERA in 14 Triple-A starts last year, is ranked No. 7 by MLBPipeline.com. Jackson Holliday, who produced a .911 OPS and 25-to-12 walk-to-strikeout ratio in 20 games his first pro season, is ranked No. 12. Holliday was the overall No. 1 pick in the MLB Draft last July. Colton Cowser is No. 40, Jordan Westburg No. 74, Heston Kjerstad No. 80, DL Hall No. 97 and Joey Ortiz No. 99.
Among the three lists released in those last eight days, the Orioles have 10 different players getting top 100 recognition and votes. Coby Mayo was No. 69 via Baseball Prospectus and tonight MLBPipeline.com makes Kjerstad number 80 with his ranking on their list.
The Orioles led all of MLB putting eight players on the MLBP listing.
Henderson could wind up starting at third base for the Orioles come opening day and he has already been labeled as a favorite to win the 2023 American League Rookie of the Year award.
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