Basallo progresses in throwing program and other notes from Bowie's media day

BOWIE, Md. – Catcher Samuel Basallo, ranked as the No. 10 prospect in the sport by Baseball America and No. 17 via MLB Pipeline, will begin the season in the designated hitter role for Double-A Bowie, as expected. But he should be playing in the field within the first 10 or so games of the year.

Basallo was only a DH with the Orioles in big league camp after suffering a stress fracture in his right elbow over the winter. He is not ready to catch in games yet. 

But during Bowie’s media day today at Prince George’s Stadium, he said his throwing program and progression to get back in games playing defense has gone just fine. 

“I’m progressing very well. There have not been any setbacks. My arm is getting stronger and I feel good,” he said with interpreting help from Bowie manager Roberto Mercado.

He said the program to build arm strength has gone well.

“I appreciate how the organization handled everything and let me get to this point. I kept hitting the whole time and did that to get ready for the season. The staff did a good job of helping me get in the work to stay on the field.”

Basallo put up big numbers last year, starting out at Single-A Delmarva, then moving to High-A Aberdeen and ending the year with four games with Bowie.

He batted .313/.402/.551/.953 with 20 homers and 86 RBIs.

One scenario could see him DH in this weekend's three-game series and a six-game series next week before getting back on the field initially at first base with a return to catch in games potentially around May 1.

Bright was able to shine against Pittsburgh: Right-handed pitcher Trace Bright is expected to be a starter in the Bowie rotation. He is fresh off pitching in the Spring Breakout game on March 17 when O’s prospects lost 3-1 to the Pirates.

He went three innings in that seven-inning game on 45 pitches, allowing one run with one walk and four strikeouts.

Bright showed a real swing and miss curveball that night. Last year on the O's farm between mostly High-A Aberdeen with four games at Double-A Bowie, he went 3-6 with a 3.97 ERA. He had a 13.3 strikeout rate, fanning 147 batters with 56 walks over 99 2/3 innings.

“I think it was great to see some new faces and play against the top talent in the Pirates org,” said Bright of the Spring Breakout game. “It kind of gets you amped up for a game in spring training to face some good talent and obviously the guys that were playing behind us in our org is awesome too. Just the talent on the field that night for both teams made that game a lot of fun.”

A fifth-round draft pick out of Auburn in 2022, he talked about his work during spring training overall.

“I think it is just about refining your craft. But there are aspects of the game you want to get better at and tune in for the season. At spring training you try to set yourself up for success throughout the season,” said Bright, the O’s No. 16 prospect per MLB Pipeline.

The pitcher comeback trail: Bowie has a few pitchers on its roster that are on the comeback trail from surgery and/or arm issues. They include Kyle Brnovich, Zach Peek, Seth Johnson and Brandon Young.

Brnovich, acquired in the Dylan Bundy trade with the Angels on Dec. 4, 2019 that also brought Kyle Bradish to Baltimore, missed most of 2022 after a Tommy John procedure and returned last June and pitched 26 innings over four different levels.

“It was very exciting (to get back last year),” he said today. “It was a long process and it adds up. But a lot of good comes out of that, too. A lot of maturing and a lot of developing as a player. Just as far as my process and everything now, I feel a lot more professional about my business and know better now how to go about my routine.”

Brnovich had his surgery May 12, 2022 and pitched last June 26 in the Rookie-level Florida Complex League in his return to official game action.

“When you first get back out there, you have a lot of ups and downs and I saw some of that and also with other guys too," he said. "But they say once you get that first full offseason and you get time off from throwing, you feel 100 percent again, which I think is definitely the case.”

Roster add: Since announcing its break-camp roster, Bowie has added infielder/outfielder Billy Cook. He had a .776 OPS in 120 games for Bowie last season and started this season with Triple-A Norfolk, going 4-for-8. A versatile defender, Cook played all three outfield spots last year plus first and second base.

Bowie opens at home Friday versus Reading and then next week plays six at Hartford before returning home April 16 for six games with Altoona.

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