Finding a starter: O's moved Alex Pham to the rotation and his numbers got better


SARASOTA, Fla. – Here is yet another reason to praise the Orioles organization: making more good decisions on their farm.

Last year, they took a minor league pitcher that had thrown a combined 44 2/3 innings out of the bullpen in the 2021 and 2022 minor league seasons and made him a starter.

They saw something and the move worked. Right-hander Alex Pham, mostly a reliever in college and exclusively a reliever in his first two pro seasons, had a huge year as a starter pitching at High-A Aberdeen and Double-A Bowie.

He went 3-5 with an ERA of 2.57. Over 112 innings he allowed 72 hits, posting a .182 average against and 1.02 WHIP. He recorded a 3.4 walk rate and 10.5 K per nine rate. He had 13.3 K per nine rate with Aberdeen, where he went 2-0 with a 1.54 ERA in May and was the South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Month.

Yep, this starting thing was indeed working out.

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What could be coming in starting pitching on the Orioles' farm


If you look at the Roster Resource section on, they list their current projected pitching rotations for each club. It might surprise some to note that the Tampa Bay Rays, a team known for producing good pitchers and solid pitching development, does not have one homegrown pitcher listed among its top five.

Tyler Glasnow, Aaron Civale and Shane Baz were added via trades, Zach Eflin in free agency and Zack Littell was added on waivers.

Of the O’s listed five, just John Means and Grayson Rodriguez were drafted by the Orioles. Kyle Bradish, Dean Kremer and Cole Irvin – listed fifth right now – all came via trades.

So, for the top two AL East teams from last year, 80 percent of their current rotations came from outside their own organization.

The bigger message is get good pitching wherever and whenever you can. At the end of the year, they count only wins, not wins generated mostly by homegrown talent.

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There were surprise players on the farm too for the Orioles


Recently I wrote here about some players that were surprises this year for the Orioles as they made their way to an AL East title. On the farm there always seem to be a few surprises, if for no reason other than we have more teams and players to choose from.

This year was no different, but I think two of the biggest surprises on the farm were two players that both ended their years with Double-A Bowie in outfielder Billy Cook and right-handed pitcher Alex Pham.

Both ended the year in the O’s top 30 via with Cook at No. 27 and Pham at No. 29. Cook is currently unranked by Baseball America, but Pham made it all the way to No. 17 via BA.

They were players on the rise during the 2023 season and both are hidden gems no more. They’ve found their way onto the radar and will be watched closely in 2024.

Both were college draft selections in the 2021 MLB Draft – Cook out of Pepperdine in round 10 and Pham in round 19 out of San Francisco. So, neither will need to be added to the 40-man roster to be protected from the Rule 5 draft until the Rule 5 draft in 2024.

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César Prieto, Justin Armbruester, Jud Fabian among a host of minor league promotions


CHICAGO – The Orioles minor league rosters are in for some big changes very soon. According to a club source, eight players are about to be promoted and they include five players currently ranked among the O’s top 30 prospects list via Baseball America.

Moving from Double-A Bowie to Triple-A Norfolk are infielder César Prieto, right-handed pitcher Justin Armbruester and righty reliever Wandisson Charles.

Moving from High-A Aberdeen to Bowie are pitchers Alex Pham, Keagan Gillies and Jean Pinto and outfielder Jud Fabian.

Moving from Low Single-A Delmarva to Aberdeen is right-handed pitcher Juan Nunez.

Fabian is currently ranked as the Orioles’ No. 13 prospect by Baseball America and No. 15 via In 55 games with the IronBirds, he is batting .281/.392/.490/.882 with 13 doubles, nine homers, 35 runs, 19 steals and 43 RBIs. He was the No. 67 overall draft pick in 2022 out of the University of Florida.

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