The Orioles had four prospects they intended to place on the 40-man roster by Tuesday’s deadline, and an undrafted pitcher trending upward who couldn’t be denied.
Wasn’t worth the risk of losing him.
Noah Denoyer probably felt like the fifth of five players protected in the Rule 5 draft behind pitchers Grayson Rodriguez, Drew Rom and Seth Johnson, and shortstop Joey Ortiz. A foursome that is found within the top 20 prospects in the system, per MLBPipeline.com’s rankings.
Denoyer didn’t spend much time breaking it down or reflecting on its meaning, whether he should appreciate the honor more given his circumstances.
“My goal is always to just make the big leagues and do as well as I can for as long as I can, and help a team to win a World Series,” he said during Thursday’s video call with local media.
“Hopefully, that’s what I can bring to the Orioles.”
He’s already delivered plenty.
Denoyer went 5-2 with a 2.89 ERA and 0.935 WHIP this year in 21 games covering 71 2/3 innings, topping out at Double-A Bowie. Opponents at three levels batted .194, and he averaged 12.4 strikeouts per nine innings.
The offseason focus for Denoyer, 24, is to gain more velocity on his mid-90s fastball, though he’s retiring hitters without the extra steam.
“I think my mechanics are in a good spot,” he said. “My goal is to really just get as explosive and athletic as I can.”
Denoyer was 3-1 with a 4.50 ERA in six appearances in the Arizona Fall League. He started in the Fall Stars Game and allowed an unearned run in the first inning.
“It was awesome, I really loved it,” he said. “I never got to play in Arizona since high school, and the weather was really nice, and it was super dry. It was a good experience being able to meet a bunch of guys around the league that I could be potentially playing against some day.
“It was a good time. There was a lot of good competition.”
All part of the journey.
The games pitched at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, Calif., and in the summer college Northwoods League. The ligament-reconstructive surgery on his right elbow. The commitment to Oklahoma State University before the Orioles called him. The pandemic that forced the cancellation of the 2020 minor league season.
“I think the most important thing is to enjoy the journey, enjoy every day, because it gets really hard over the course of a season if you’re not enjoying it,” he said. “Definitely embracing what your goal is and putting in the work to try to achieve it.”
Denoyer accomplished the difficult task of going from undrafted pitcher to occupant of a spot on the 40-man.
“It really became realistic like midseason, once I started having some good success in Double-A,” said Denoyer, who posted a 2.61 ERA and 0.794 WHIP in 14 games with Bowie.
“I knew I always had it in me. It was just kind of trying to figure out what works for me and what I need to do to have success.”