Former high draft picks of the Houston Astros were coming and going from the Orioles roster on Wednesday. The club did not pick up the 2023 team option on pitcher Jordan Lyles, taken No. 38 overall in 2008. But later in the day they added via waivers outfielder Daz Cameron, taken No. 37 overall by Houston in the 2015 MLB Draft.
So, the Orioles, at least for now, are parting ways with Lyles, who becomes a free agent. That means he is free to sign with any team including the Orioles, who seem to have interest but at a lower price than $11 million for next season.
On the plus side, Lyles finished 14th in the American League in innings with 179 and he lowered his homer rate from 1.9 the previous year to 1.3. He was good in the expanded Oriole Park, going 5-3 with a 3.47 in home games and the Orioles went 17-15 in his 32 starts. He also led the club throwing 100 pitches or more 11 times, most by an O’s starter since 2018. He provided outstanding leadership for the young pitchers and enjoyed a role where he mentored that group. He led the club with 13 quality starts and the Orioles went 9-4 in those games.
He wanted to come back.
“I would love to be back here,” Lyles said during the season’s final days. “To see what we’ve done in the last calendar year as an organization, from what was expected of us coming into the season, and the transition to be where we are right now, it’s pretty special. I enjoy the guys. Hyder (Brandon Hyde) has been amazing. Definitely Manager of the Year in my eyes. A good clubhouse. Everything is positive here. I would love to come back.”
On the downside, Lyles struggled to an ERA of 5.25 on the road and his overall season ERA of 4.42 was under league average. He pitched to an ERA of 5.94 in 18 games versus the AL East.
Lyles and the Orioles seems like a real good fit to me. But for the club right now, not at that price. Now the team and player will go their separate ways, as Lyles looks for a job and the Orioles look for top-end starting pitching.
A reunion is certainly not out of the question later in the winter, however.
Cameron added: Cameron while being the No. 37 pick of Houston in 2015, got one of the highest signing bonuses of that draft and now he rejoins Mike Elias in Baltimore. Houston selected outfielder Kyle Tucker No. 5 overall in that same draft and both Tucker and Cameron got equal $4 million dollar signing bonuses, which tied for the fifth-richest bonuses given any picks that draft.
Clearly Houston was pretty high on the right-handed batter that is now 25. But in three years in MLB with Detroit, covering 244 plate appearances, Cameron has hit just .201/.266/.330/.597 with five homers and 24 RBIs. He’s had a 7.0 walk rate and 31.6 strikeout rate.
Cameron is considered a plus defender and has been a highly-ranked prospect, No. 5 by Houston in 2016 and No. 14 the next year. After the trade to Detroit, he was ranked from No. 5 to No. 8 on the Tigers top 30 for four years beginning in 2018. He's got a 40 hit-tool grade and 45 for power, while scouts provided 55 grades for running, fielding and throwing.
Asche speaks: Saying he is “immensely” excited about the Orioles future, new coach Cody Asche talked with some of the club’s beat reporters during a Zoom call yesterday.
This week every O’s coach from last year was officially retained and Asche was added as offensive strategy coach. He was the club’s upper-level hitting coordinator on the farm this past season, his first in the O’s organization.
He said his role for next season is still being completely defined.
“Right now, the way I see it, I will be an asset to (co-hitting coaches Ryan) Fuller and Borgs (Matt Borgschulte), hopefully an asset to Brandon (Hyde) and Fredi (Gonzalez) in-game wise. Have contact with the front office and the analysts and just really kind of be hopefully a jack of all trades and just be there to support and help our hitters get better."
You can tell Asche is a big fan of the O’s co-hitting coach system with Fuller and Borgschulte. He feels his own career in bigs from 2013 to 2017, might have been extended playing in such a system.
“There is just a lot to know and see and you never know the nuggets of information that are going to really help someone out," he said. "You know I’d like to think that if I had Fuller and Borgschulte I probably would have had maybe a couple more years. Maybe I go through arbitration once or twice. Maybe I’m a league average hitter, which is immensely valuable in the grand scheme of things. So, I would say yeah and that is why I strive to be that now. Not for the next Cody Asche per se, but for the next hitter that could kind of get lost in the shuffle of that transition to the big leagues if they didn’t quite have that support that we are available to provide now.”
Asche said during a game in the dugout, coaches can provide batters assistance, especially as new pitchers come in from the bullpen. But it’s not like they have plenty of time to dispense info at that point.
“In the heat of the moment you have like about a minute or 30 seconds to get to a hitter. If (Ryan) Mountcastle is leading off and we have a long inning on defense and they bring in a new righty, you may only have 25 seconds to get his ear to give him a little nugget to get on deck. Our players are good at that, they really understand the information we have. I think we’ve done a good job of putting only the relevant things on there. It’s not too much for the guys to go through. No paralysis by analysis kind of thing. We are always trying to know our players and know what they need and give them something they can take from the dugout steps to on deck to the batter’s box and just help them be a little bit more successful."