Doing the math is pretty easy. Interpreting what it all means can be more challenging. But we do know the sport of baseball has gravitated toward placing increased value on pitchers with big strikeout totals. And while we used to be most enamored with raw strikeout totals, now stats like strikeout percentage might tell us a bit more.
Strikeout percentage is easy to get to. Simply divide the number of batters a pitcher strikes out by the total batters he faced. A pitcher that fanned 30 of 90 batters faced has a strikeout percentage of 33.3.
This year on the O’s farm, using a standard of 50 innings pitched for the year, the Orioles had seven minor league pitchers produce a strikeout percentage of 30 or above. Four of them are now on the 40-man roster and two were just added this week.
The list of seven:
36.6 – DL Hall and Grayson Rodriguez
35.5 – Noah Denoyer
33.8 – Ignacio Feliz
32.9 – Carlos Tavera
31.2 – José Ramírez and Mike Baumann
Certainly a pitcher can be successful without a lot of strikeouts. But the game loves swing-and-miss stuff, and for some Captain Obvious reasons, like a swinging strike doesn’t go over the outfield fence or doesn’t elude a fielder’s glove. Even a ball that's not well struck can do damage as long as it's put in play.
Often the pitchers with the best strikeout percentages are some of the best pitchers. Good K rates can show that a pitcher has outstanding stuff and can show dominance.
Denoyer, who was added this week to the Orioles' 40-man roster, is keeping pretty good company near the top of this list. He went 5-2 with a 2.89 ERA this year in 21 games over 71 2/3 innings between High-A Aberdeen and Double-A Bowie. Now 24, Denoyer went undrafted in 2019 and the Orioles signed him after the draft that August. This season he posted a 0.93 WHIP and .194 batting average against. In 14 games with Bowie only, he went 1-2 with a 2.61 ERA.
So those numbers are pretty solid. And so is Denoyer’s walk percentage this year, which was 6.1 percent. That is the best walk rate of the seven pitchers on the above list. His K-to-walk ratio this season was an outstanding 5.82.
After the minor league season, Denoyer pitched in the Arizona Fall League for the Scottsdale Scorpions. He was 3-1 with a 4.50 ERA and he started in the Fall Stars game for the American League and pitched one inning, allowing one unearned run.
Denoyer, not ranked among the O’s top 30 prospects by either Baseball America or MLBPipeline.com, sits in the 91-to-94-mph range with his fastball, and it seems his secondaries took a nice leap forward this year, especially his breaking pitches.
“He’s just making good strides this year toward developing his entire arsenal,” Orioles director of player development Matt Blood said of Denoyer during an interview back in July. “He’s been refining some of the shapes of his pitches and he’s been locating them. He has done great work with our pitching staffs in Aberdeen and Bowie. He’s been a real nice development success story so far.”
Denoyer is a pitcher who has benefitted from improved O’s pitching development. The data-and-analytics team identified ways he could get better and the coaches on the field helped him do just that.
“No doubt, that’s the name of the game,” Blood said. “There are things across the board that play for most, but each individual also has things specific to them in how they throw. With Denoyer, they have identified how his pitches needed to be refined and he, to his credit, attacked that and has worked on it. He has gotten those pitches more refined and has executed that in the games. That’s the development goal for him.”
Not all pitchers with good stats have good strikeout rates. The unheralded Denoyer does, though, and this week it led him to the O's 40-man roster.
State minor league news: The Bowie Baysox, the Orioles' Double-A affiliate, have a new lease that will run through 2032 to play their home games at Prince George's Stadium.
The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission’s (M-NCPPC) Department of Parks and Recreation in Prince George’s County announced the renewal of the deal. The Prince George’s County Planning Board approved the new 10-year lease on Oct. 27. The lease commences on Jan. 1, 2023 and runs through 2032.
“We are honored to have a new decade-long lease with the M-NCPPC at Prince George’s Stadium and look forward to continuing to provide great baseball, affordable family entertainment and expanding partnerships with Prince George’s County and the surrounding communities,” said Greg Baroni, chief executive officer and principal general partner of Attain Sports & Entertainment and owner of the Baysox. “As a Maryland resident of more than 35 years, I have deep roots in the region and am committed to expanding community engagement, focusing on outstanding customer service, driving innovation, investing in the professional development of our employees and improving the game-day experience for our fans.”
Meanwhile, Frederick is adding an independent minor league baseball team and joining the Atlantic League for 2023. The Frederick Keys will continue to play in the MLB Draft League, a summer league featuring college players. So yep, two teams at Harry Grove Stadium this summer.
And 2023 will mark the Atlantic League's the 25th season since its founding in 1998.
The league will feature a 126-game regular season schedule with each of the nine legacy clubs hosting at least 63 home games. Frederick will play 48 home games. The season will commence with all 10 teams in action on Friday, April 28. The second half of the season will conclude on Sunday, Sept. 17.