A look at the O's four picks on first day of MLB Draft

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When the Orioles made their third No. 1 overall MLB Draft pick in team history on Sunday night, the pick was a popular one with a couple of the MLB Network analysts. They reacted quite favorably on the telecast when the O’s selected high school shortstop Jackson Holliday from Stillwater, Okla.

The son of long-time big league outfielder Matt Holliday, Jackson was Baseball America’s national High School Player of the Year. Holliday, who gets 60 grades from scouts for his hit tool, running and arm, is age 18 and hit .685/.749/1.392 (89-for-130) with 29 doubles, six triples, 17 home runs, 74 runs scored, 79 RBIs and 30 stolen bases in 40 games during his senior season. His 89 hits set a national high school record.

He follows Ben McDonald in 1989 and Adley Rutschman in 2019 as O’s 1/1 picks and is the first high school position player the team made its top draft pick since Manny Machado in 2010.

The slot amount to sign Holliday is listed at $8,842,200.

“They didn’t cut a deal here,” said Jim Callis of MLBPipeline.com on the MLB Network draft telecast. “They took one of the best players. I think Jackson Holliday is probably the best combination of hitting ability and ceiling in this draft. He plays on the infield, Druw Jones (drafted second) is an outfielder, there is defensive value here. I like Harold's (Reynolds) Bobby Witt Jr. parallel. He is a five-tool shortstop. I can’t think of too many players - and Jackson Holliday is one - that got better in every phase of the game (this season). Better hitter, stronger, faster, better arm, better shortstop as a senior. He was a good player coming in and he’s a great player now. I love this pick for the Orioles.”

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He's No. 1/1: Jackson Holliday on being drafted by the Orioles


For the third time in club history tonight the Orioles had the overall No. 1 selection in the MLB Draft. And after taking Ben McDonald in 1989 and Adley Rutschman 30 years later, the O’s went into the high school ranks tonight to select shortstop Jackson Holliday from Stillwater (Okla.) High School.

He is the first high school player the O’s selected with their top pick since pitcher Grayson Rodriguez in 2018, and first high school position player they spent their top pick on since Manny Machado was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2010 draft.

As it turns out, Holliday, 18, found out he would be an Oriole about the same time the rest of us did.

“I kind of found out as they were saying it,” he told O’s reporters on a team Zoom call. “That was kind of cool. My dad didn’t really tell me. He was on the phone and then he’s like ‘All right, just going to find out.’ That was very, very neat and something I’ll never forget. I didn’t know it was a possibility, to be honest, going into the high school season. I just wanted to help my team and hopefully put myself into a good position heading into today.”

Holliday said his dad, former big leaguer Matt Holliday, was on the phone with his representative, Scott Boras.

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O's game blog: Shooting for a series victory at the Trop

jordan lyles pitches gray

To show how different the 2022 season is from 2021 for the Orioles we could list several stats and facts. But here is a good one: The 2021 Orioles won one game against the Tampa Bay Rays all year. The 2022 Orioles could win their third series against the Rays this season if they win today at Tropicana Field.

And while the Orioles went 0-3 in the first series of the year at the Trop, they are 5-3 against the Rays since being swept in St. Pete in early April. They took two of three from Tampa Bay May 20-22 in Baltimore and did that again June 17-19 at Camden Yards. After Saturday’s win, they will be 2-1 this series with another win today against the Rays.

The Orioles ended a 10-game losing streak versus the Rays at Tropicana Field with Saturday’s 6-4 win in 11 innings on Ryan Mountcastle’s two-run single in the 11th. The O’s trailed 3-1 to the fifth inning, but then Tyler Nevin’s single brought then within 3-2. Adley Rutschman’s first career pinch-hit home run tied the game in the eighth and the clubs each scored once in the 10th. The Rays had the tying runs on base in the last of the 11th, but Cionel Pérez got the second out of the inning and Joey Krehbiel the third as the Orioles won for the 11th time in the last 12 games.

Maybe they started another win streak.

The Orioles are now 16-20 (.444) in games versus American League East teams. They are 5-6 against Tampa Bay. The O’s are 5-3 in their past eight games within the division and 12-9 over the last 21. They are 3-1-1 in their past five AL East series and can add one to that today.

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It's draft day in MLB and O's pick 1/1 tonight

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Draft day in Major League Baseball has arrived and it’s really the first of three days when teams will draft over 20 rounds. The Orioles have the No. 1 pick in the draft tonight, which will begin sometime not long after 7 p.m. ET. They have 12 picks over the first 10 rounds, and 22 over 20 rounds of selections.

Tonight the draft will run through the second round and then Competitive Balance Round B, so the O’s first four picks will come tonight. The draft resumes Monday at 2 p.m. ET with rounds three through 10, and at the same time Tuesday with rounds 11 through 20.

A few O’s draft notes:

* For the third time in team history, the Orioles have the No. 1 overall pick. They selected Ben McDonald No. 1 in 1989 and Adley Rutschman in 2019.

* The O’s total draft pool of $16,924,000 to sign players is second largest in draft history.

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O's game blog: Looking to bounce back against Tampa Bay

Dean Kremer throw orange spring away

With a 10-game winning streak now over, the Orioles look to start a new one this afternoon in the second game of their series with the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. The Rays scored four runs in the sixth Friday night to take a 5-2 lead. Ramón Urías hit a two-run homer, his second of the game, to bring Baltimore within 5-4 in the eighth, but the Birds lost by that score.

For the Orioles (45-45), it was their first loss in nearly two weeks, going back to July 2 at Minnesota. During their win streak they won three times on the road and seven times at home. They scored 52 runs and allowed 30 with a team ERA of 2.93 during the streak. The rotation ERA was 3.19 and the bullpen posted a 2.58 ERA.

The Orioles fell four wins short of a team record 14 straight wins, achieved from Aug. 12-27, 1973.

Even in losing the series opener at the Trop, the O’s have been winners in 15 of 21 and 21 of their last 31 games. They are 31-21 since May 19. The Orioles are 24-15 since June 1 and 38-31 since May 1.

They begin play today 2 ½ games out of the sixth and final American League playoff spot, which is co-held by Toronto and Boston at 48-43. That duo leads Cleveland by two games, with the O’s and Chicago White Sox both next, each at 45-45.

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Minor league notes on DL Hall, Frederick Bencosme and more

hall portrait

O’s left-handed pitching prospect DL Hall, tipping his pitches no longer, has been on a roll this month, allowing one earned run in three July starts. That is a big difference from how his June ended in back-to-back starts against Lehigh Valley.

In those two games, Hall allowed 12 runs (nine earned) over just 7 2/3 innings and gave up two home runs. Those were real outliers for him on the stat sheet. But it was during the second of those two starts that the Norfolk coaching staff noticed Hall was tipping his pitches in how he was holding his glove.

Before that outing was over Hall began to make an adjustment and he’s been rolling ever since.

His last three starts, Hall has allowed one earned run and six hits over 15 2/3 innings with seven walks to 30 strikeouts. He is 2-4 with a 3.83 ERA in 13 starts for Norfolk on the year. He will start tomorrow afternoon for the Tides and you have to wonder how close he will be to getting a big league callup after that.

Norfolk manager Buck Britton has watched Hall continue to work on his control and command. When he’s locked in, he’s really, really good. But other times he can get out of synch and off his game.

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O's game blog: Looking for another win as Tampa Bay series begins

Jorge Mateo swing black away

As they begin the final series before the All-Star break tonight, the Orioles are looking to extend their winning streak and possibly get within one game of or closer to the final American League playoff spot.

Beginning play tonight, the Orioles (45-44) are 1 ½ games back of Toronto and Boston, which are both 47-43 and tied for the last AL playoff berth. The Rays hold the first AL wild-card spot currently, with Seattle holding the second and the Red Sox and Blue Jays tied for that third spot.

Seattle has won 11 in a row and the Orioles go for No. 11 tonight. The Birds beat the Cubs in Chicago 4-2 on Tuesday and 7-1 Wednesday to extend the win streak to 10 and to move one game over the .500 mark.

Before they won that second game at Wrigley Field, the O’s had not been over .500 since April 8, 2021. The O’s have outscored their opponents 52-30 during the win streak. Their team pitching has an ERA of 2.93 in the streak with their starters ERA at 3.19 and the bullpen ERA at 2.58.

Over the last 25 games, O’s pitching has allowed two runs or fewer 15 times for an ERA of 2.59 in this span. In those 15 games, the Orioles are 14-1.

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His time to shine: Gunnar Henderson to rep O's at Futures Game this weekend

gunnar henderson

When Orioles prospect Gunnar Henderson plays for the American League team tomorrow night in Los Angeles in the All-Star Futures Game, he’ll be going to a place where some current young O’s stars have already been. Not Los Angeles, but to a Futures Game.

He’ll represent the Orioles and be among the best prospects in the game in a national showcase.

Catcher Adley Rutschman went 0-for-1 with a walk for the American League in its 8-3 loss to the National League last summer in Denver, but Rutschman said the experience was memorable for him and no doubt will be for Henderson, too.

“From the experience of just flying there to, you know, getting settled into the hotel, to meeting all the guys, showing up at a big league ballpark, they did a great job from start to finish. Got to meet Ken Griffey Jr. and a lot of cool people. From start to finish it was just a great experience,” Rutschman said.

And so was the game as well.

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Feeling a draft: Sunday night the O's are on the clock at 1/1

Druw Jones | Brian Morgan

On Sunday night, probably not long after 7 p.m., the Orioles will officially be on the clock to make their third overall No. 1 MLB Draft selection in team history. They selected pitcher Ben McDonald 1/1 in 1989 and 30 years later it was catcher Adley Rutschman. Now for the second time in four years, the Orioles will make the first pick in the draft.

And it remains true today and may hold true until we get the actual pick – no one knows which direction the Orioles will go. They are as usual, not tipping their hand in any way and if they have made or even narrowed their decision, there is just no credible information out there on what the Orioles might do.

We know the same five names that have apparently been on their short list for a while now – high school outfielders Druw Jones and Elijah Green and high school infielders Jackson Holliday and Termarr Johnson with college shortstop Brooks Lee.

MLBPipeline.com ranks them this way: Jones, Holliday, Green, Johnson, Lee.

Baseball America ranks them this way: Jones, Lee, Holliday, Johnson, Green.

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O's game blog: Looking for a 10-game win streak against the Cubs

Spenser Watkins throwing gray

The Orioles have had a winning streak of 10 or more games in 11 different seasons in club history. The 2022 edition can join the list with a win tonight at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

The Orioles beat the Cubs 4-2 on Tuesday to extend their winning streak to nine straight games. That is the longest in-season streak since the club won 13 in a row from Sept. 7-22, 1999. Right-hander Jordan Lyles allowed just two runs over seven innings last night and Baltimore got a two-run homer from Ramón Urías and a solo shot from Jorge Mateo in their latest win.

Lyles allowed single runs in the first and second innings and then blanked the Cubs after that, finishing with 101 pitches. Over his past five games he has thrown four quality starts and pitched to a 2.76 ERA. O’s starters have thrown seven innings or more just six times this year, and four times Lyles has done that. Kyle Bradish and Dean Kremer have each done it once.

The Orioles reached the .500 mark Tuesday night at 44-44. The last time they were at .500 before this was last April 10 at 4-4. The last time they were .500 or better this deep into a season was in September 2017.

Now they shoot for a 10-game win streak.

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Will O's consider Heston Kjerstad for another promotion later in summer?

kjerstad black helmet

ABERDEEN, Md. – He was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft and outfielder Heston Kjerstad was playing like it at low Single-A Delmarva, where he went 37-for-80 in 22 games. Yes, that is prolific hitting and makes you wonder if after moving to high Single-A Aberdeen this week whether a move to Double-A later this year is in reach for Kjerstad.

Earlier this week, after his promotion to the IronBirds, I asked O’s director of player development Matt Blood about the 23-year-old outfielder. The Orioles surely are confident that Kjerstad will do well with the IronBirds, but they also know that last summer Gunnar Henderson went 1-for-31 to start his time with Aberdeen.

“He’s definitely going to face challenges. We’ll see,” said Blood. “We’re expecting him to perform well but any player can go through a slump. Great players in the major leagues go through them. We’ll see how it goes for him but we’re expecting him to continue to play well.”

So could the club move him to Double-A later this summer?

“It’s the same answer I would give you on any player,” said Blood. “We keep track of performance and their age and we like to challenge the player. So, if they show us they have bypassed the level, then we start considering them needing a greater challenge. He’s not different than anyone else.”

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O's game blog: The road trip begins at Wrigley Field in Chicago

jorge lopez celebrates black

The red-hot Orioles are back in action tonight, beginning a two-city, five-game road trip that will take them up to the All-Star break. They begin play tonight looking for their longest in-season win streak in 23 years.

The Orioles (43-44) could reach the .500 mark with a win tonight. They have not been at .500 at any point this season. They were last at .500 on April 10, 2021 when they were 4-4. The Orioles have won eight in a row and Sunday beat the Los Angeles Angels 9-5 to complete a four-game sweep.

Baltimore has won eight in a row for the first time since winning 12 straight from Sept. 30, 2015 to April 12, 2016, and the first time in a single season since winning eight in a row from April 22 to May 1, 2005. The last time the Orioles won at least nine games in a row in a single season was when they won 13 straight from Sept. 7-22, 1999.

The O's have won 13 of their last 18 games and 19 of their last 28 games. Their .679 winning percentage since June 11 – over those past 28 games - is tied for the second-best winning percentage in the AL and fourth best in MLB over that time. Only Houston (.741, 20-7) in the AL has a better mark in that time frame.

The Orioles finished their homestand a perfect 7-0 after sweeping three games against the Texas Rangers and four against the Angels. This marked Baltimore's first sweep of a homestand since May 5-9, 2017 when the team took three games from Chicago-AL and two against Washington. The last time the Orioles swept a homestand of seven games was Aug. 3-9, 2004 when the team took three games against Seattle and four against Texas.

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In Aberdeen, Heston Kjerstad talks about his promotion to the IronBirds

heston kjerstad

ABERDEEN, Md. – He was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft. But outfielder Heston Kjerstad of the Orioles would not play his first minor league game until this year on June 10 – exactly two years to the day that the Orioles selected him in round one.

He put it this way this afternoon in steamy Aberdeen when discussing dealing with first myocarditis and then in March a hamstring issue that further delayed his pro debut.

“Had a minor setback for a major comeback,” Kjerstad said at Ripken Stadium where he will debut tonight for the high Single-A Aberdeen IronBirds after playing 22 games for Low Single-A Delmarva.

The long wait to see Kjerstad get on the field is finally over for him and O’s fans. And that phrase he used today was one that evolved among players working to comeback from injuries at O’s camp in Sarasota, Fla.

“It was kind of we were throwing that around a lot in Sarasota with the rehab group. Kind of the lingo we used to stay more positive. Going through injuries isn’t the most positive experience sometimes.”

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The 2022 O's evoke memories of past clubs that produced Orioles magic

hays nevin orange

It is a hypothetical conversation that could have happened in any number of places in or around Baltimore this week. Or anywhere where O’s fans reside or hang out.

One fan might have asked another if he thought the surprising 2022 Orioles could keep winning and stay in playoff contention deep into this season or maybe even until the very end of it?

“Why not?” the other fan might have said.

That short phrase means something to long-time fans in Birdland.

The 1989 “Why Not” Orioles were a team that came out of nowhere to not only contend, but lead the American League East for much of that summer. They won 33 games more than the 1988 Orioles and ended the year in a showdown series at Toronto for a division championship. They won 87 games and came up short in that final series, but they captured the hearts of O’s fans forever. They have a special place in club history.

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Cedric Mullins has elevated this part of his defensive game


Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins admits it would bother him that his arm strength would get criticized. So he has put in the work to improve in that area. And both the eye test and Statcast metrics tell us he has done just that.

He is now throwing better than ever, and when you couple that with his ability to run balls down in the gaps, you have a player becoming an elite defender in center.

“I just feel like my carry (on the ball) is much better this year than it has been in the past,” Mullins told me during the just-concluded homestand. “Been working with the staff and (catch partner Austin) Hays, because he has a cannon, and just kind of picking his brain on what he kind of feels and what his body is feeling preparing for throws. Try to mimic that, and of course we long-toss a good bit to create more arm strength. My arm has been feeling good and I think it’s been showing itself.

“The accuracy, for sure, has been better. I’ve had a fair amount of accuracy in the past, but not the arm strength I would want, and that was a main focus of prepping for the season, the arm strength.”

Statcast tracks miles per hour on outfielders' throws when they have to make a strong throw, and not necessarily on just any throw in from the outfield. But on such plays, the data clearly show Mullins is trending up. He has gained nearly 3 mph per throw this year alone, and his throwing strength has improved the last several seasons.

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O's game blog: O's looking for a four-game sweep in series finale

Felix Bautista throwing white

A great homestand marked by close wins and walk-off wins comes to an end for the Orioles today. They are looking to complete it with back-to-back series sweeps and without a loss. They can do that with a victory this afternoon over the Los Angeles Angels.

The Orioles swept three from Texas to begin the homestand and have beaten the Angels by 4-1 Thursday, by 5-4 with Friday’s ninth-inning rally and by 1-0 on Saturday afternoon. Today they go for their first four-game sweep since July 17-20, 2017 versus Texas.

The Orioles' win Saturday gave the team a seven-game win streak for the first time since Aug. 23-30, 2017. The last time the Orioles won eight games in a row was when the team won 12 in a row from Sept. 30, 2015 to April 12, 2016 and the last time they won eight in a row in a single season was April 22 to May 1, 2005. 

With the win Saturday, the Orioles have clinched this series win, and they've matched last year’s series win total barely past the halfway point of the 2022 season. The club went 12-32-8 in series last year and is 12-11-14 this season.

The Orioles are now 24-17 at home and are 11-3 in the last 14 home games. As they try for a perfect homestand today they have already surpassed last year’s series win total at home. They went 5-15-6 in home series in 2021 and are 8-4-2 this season.

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Looking for consistently better at-bats and other O's notes

Orioles walkoff celebration white

On Friday night as the Orioles faced Los Angeles Angels right-hander Raisel Iglesias in the ninth inning, they were facing an experienced closer who was called on to protect a 4-2 lead. A closer who, since the start of last season, has 49 saves, 0.940 WHIP, a 1.6 walk rate and a 13.1 strikeout rate.

But down to their last out, the Orioles produced four straight hits to beat Iglesias and the Angels 5-4 in a stunning, comeback, walk-off win.

On Saturday, O’s manager Brandon Hyde talked about the quality of the at-bats his hitters took at the end of that game and how in many late-inning situations this year, the O’s at-bats seem to get better. Then he wondered if his team could begin having more of those intense, quality at-bats earlier in games or more consistently through nine innings of games.

“For us to take the next step forward offensively, it’s going to be the focus of the at-bats be in the early and middle part of the game like they are late a lot of nights,” said Hyde. “Those at-bats off Iglesias were unbelievable. They had a pass-the-baton mentality of getting the right guy up. Sometimes with young players, (they) try to do too much at times. Game's not in the balance at that point, you know you are just trying to take the at-bat. But I feel like so far this year the last third of the game our at-bats have improved. And it’s usually off premier, back-end guys too.

“So it’s in there with our guys. And it’s not realistic to do it night after night after night. But, to be a relentless offense and to be able to blow teams out, which we have a hard time doing, or put up a big number, which is hard for us to do, it’s because we don’t take those at-bats we took in the ninth inning for nine innings. And for me, that’s our next step.

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The streak rolls on: O's blank Angels and have won seven in a row (updated)

kremer pitch orange

The way he was pitching and putting up zeroes made it a fair question to ask: Would Orioles right-hander Dean Kremer leave the game today because the Angels scored off him, or would a high pitch count send him from the mound?

He was putting up zeroes and piling up strikeouts, but his pitch counts were getting elevated, too. Meanwhile, the Orioles were not backing him with much offense as they tried to win their seventh straight game for the first time in nearly five years.

Pitch count won out over runs allowed as Kremer threw scoreless ball for the fourth time in his last five starts as the Orioles pulled out another close game, beating the Los Angeles Angels 1-0 at Camden Yards.

The winning streak continued in front of 32,286 that came to downtown Baltimore to see a hot baseball team and get a Hawaiian shirt.

The Orioles (42-44) have won seven in a row for the first time since Aug. 23-30, 2017. They continue their perfect homestand at 6-0 with one game remaining tomorrow with the Angels. They began today four games out of the final American League playoff spot and then went out and won for the 12th time in 17 games and 18th in the last 27. They are 21-14 since June 1.

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O's game blog: Looking for another win against the Angels at Camden Yards

urias trout

With their latest victory and walk-off win now a day behind them, the Orioles try to extend their longest win streak in two years this afternoon as they again host the Los Angeles Angels at Camden Yards. The Orioles are 5-0 on this seven-game homestand that ends Sunday.

Baltimore (41-44) has a six-game win streak for the first time since Aug. 7-13, 2020. The six wins have produced three walk-off wins, two in extra innings, four by a single run and six victories by just nine total runs. The team has not won seven in a row since Aug. 23-30, 2017.

The Orioles have put themselves into contention for the sixth and final playoff spot in the American League. That spot is now held by Toronto (45-40), which is two games ahead of Seattle, three up on Cleveland and four ahead of the Orioles for that spot.

The Orioles have won 11 of 16 and 17 of their past 26 games. They are 20-14 since June 1 and 34-30 since May 1. The Orioles improved to 23-17 at home with Friday’s win and they are 10-3 their last 13 home games.

More notes on Friday’s amazing win, which came in the last of the ninth with two outs and none on and Los Angeles leading 4-2 before the Orioles recorded four straight hits and all the batters had two strikes on them:

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Bruce Zimmermann talks about rejoining the Orioles

zimmermann gray

When last seen in the major leagues, lefty Bruce Zimmermann was really struggling with the Orioles. On June 15 at Toronto’s Rogers Centre, the Baltimorean allowed 11 hits and six runs, including three homers, to the Blue Jays. That left his ERA at 5.94 through 13 big league starts and he was optioned to Triple-A the next day.

Zimmermann, who returned to the Orioles active roster today with Beau Sulser optioned out, was recalled to pitch out of the bullpen. He said he was not surprised the team sent him to Norfolk when it did.

After getting off to a fast start this year, his ERA was 9.79 in his last six O’s starts, and in that span he gave up 15 homers over 30 1/3 innings.

“No (not surprised to get sent down then),” he said in the clubhouse today. “My last couple of outings were not what they were compared to the beginning of the year or what I expect of myself or what they expect of a starter in the AL East. It wasn’t a shock.”

So over three games and 18 innings with the Tides, Zimmermann worked on his pitches, his mental outlook, his confidence and tightening up his slider. He returned today feeling better about his pitching and better about getting the feel for his changeup.

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