Revisiting notes on Kjerstad, Westburg, Ortiz and McKenna

kjerstad debut v TB

Some facts are informative, some are random. Some are just fun, which is why they have their own name.

Here are a few facts that fit in any category, with some extra notes and thoughts attached.

Fact: Heston Kjerstad became the sixth rookie in Orioles history to hit two or more home runs in his first five career games. Kjerstad joined Chance Sisco (two in 2017), Trey Mancini (three in 2016), Manny Machado (three in 2012), Andrés Mora (two in 1976) and Curt Belfary (three in 1965).

Follow: Sisco and Mora are proof that early power doesn’t always lead to staying power.

Sisco was the organization’s No. 1 prospect in 2017, but he hit .199 with a .658 OPS in parts of five seasons with the Orioles covering only 191 games and played independent ball this summer. Mora was hyped in the ‘70s and elected in 2003 to the Mexican Professional Baseball Hall of Fame, but he hit .223/.256/.383 in 235 major league games.

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Attempting to wrestle possible Orioles rumors

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I’m returning later today from a quick trip to New York, which included tickets to the taping of Conan O’Brien’s podcast in Brooklyn and to “Wicked” on Broadway.

You want more fantasy? Read any article that suggests a possible link between the Orioles and free agent Shohei Ohtani.

Stop it. Please.

They don’t need a full-time designated hitter and they won’t hand out the most lucrative contract in baseball history, with some published salary predictions around $500 million.

It’s worse than the Winter Meetings rumors of interest in free-agent starter Carlos Rodón, that the Orioles were “in on” him.

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Can a first-division team carry a struggling rookie on the roster?

Colton Cowser

Can a team that expects to be in the playoffs carry a struggling rookie on the roster? How about one in the everyday lineup?

This is sort of a natural follow up blog to yesterday when we pondered how the O’s will look to introduce some of their top prospects to regular player time. When is the right time for the Orioles to make that move?

Yes, it is easier for a losing team or a rebuilding team to carry a struggling rookie simply because they have less concern over daily wins and losses. But you still have to worry about the individual and when the struggles become too much or that player should be sent back to the minors. These are not easy calls for any club, no matter their place in the standings.

A young Orioles team with a manager with a strong player development background may be the near perfect spot for a young player like Heston Kjerstad, Colton Cowser or Jackson Holliday to break in. The clubhouse is filled with players who have been there and done that when it comes to rookies finding their way. Recent examples like Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson who had initial struggles and more established players like Cedric Mullins, not that far removed from them. Mullins can tell any young player about the time he fell all the way to Double-A before making it back to become a 30-30 talent and win a Silver Slugger award.

The other thing to keep in mind is that yes, the Orioles will be pushing to make the playoffs again. But any young player on the roster, even one as touted as Holliday, need only be complementary to the roster on a 101-win team and not the key guy. No one needs to be the straw stirring the drink here. No one needs to carry this club.

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Henderson, Rutschman win Silver Slugger Awards

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Major League Baseball and Louisville Slugger tonight announced that GUNNAR HENDERSON (utility) and ADLEY RUTSCHMAN (catcher) have been named recipients of the 2023 American League Silver Slugger Award, the top offensive award in Major League Baseball. This marks the first career Silver Slugger Award for both players. Henderson becomes the first Orioles rookie to win the award in club history and the AL’s second-ever winner from the utility spot since the position’s addition in 2022. Rutschman joins MICKEY TETTLETON (1989) as the only Orioles backstops to earn the honor. Outfielder ANTHONY SANTANDER was tabbed as a finalist but was not selected as a winner.

Henderson, 22, batted .255/.325/.489 (143-for-560) with 29 doubles, nine triples, 28 home runs, 100 runs scored, 82 RBI, 56 walks (1 IBB), and 10 stolen bases in 150 games (143 starts) during his rookie campaign. From July 1 through the end of the regular season, he ranked among all AL infielders in runs (1st, 62), triples (2nd, 6), extra-base hits (T-2nd, 41), total bases (3rd, 169), hits (T-3rd, 88), RBI (4th, 52), doubles (18, T-5th), home runs (6th, 17), and slugging percentage (7th, .511). Henderson finished ahead of fellow AL finalists Brandon Drury (LAA), Whit Merrifield (TOR), and Isaac Paredes (TB).

Rutschman, 25, appeared in 154 games (149 starts), slashing .277/.374/.435 (163-for-588) with 31 doubles, one triple, 20 home runs, 84 runs scored, 80 RBI, 92 walks (6 IBB), and one steal. He appeared in 110 games (104 starts) at catcher and 46 games (45 starts) as the designated hitter; his 687 plate appearances were 76 more than any other MLB player who appeared in more than half of his games at catcher. Rutschman led AL backstops in nearly every offensive category, including batting average, on-base percentage, OPS (.809), hits, doubles, walks, total bases (256), times on base (257), and game-winning RBI (10). The Portland, Ore., native established himself as one of the game’s top players in 2023, making his first All-Star team and participating in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby. Rutschman finished ahead of fellow AL finalists Salvador Perez (KC) and Cal Raleigh (SEA).

Baltimore was one of three MLB teams with multiple winners, along with Atlanta (Acuña, Jr., Olson, Riley) and Texas (Seager, Semien). Rutschman and Henderson become the fifth set of Orioles teammates to win the award in the same season, joining EDDIE MURRAY and CAL RIPKEN, JR. (1983 & 1984), Ripken, Jr. and Tettleton (1989), MELVIN MORA and MIGUEL TEJADA (2004), and CHRIS DAVISJ.J. HARDY, and ADAM JONES (2013).

The Louisville Slugger Award winners are selected by a vote of MLB managers and coaches, who cast ballots for the players they determine to be the best offensive producers at each position in their respective league. Votes are based on a combination of offensive statistics including OBP, OPS, OPS+, home runs, hits, RBI, and batting average, as well as the managers’ and coaches’ general impressions of a player’s overall offensive value. Louisville Slugger has presented the Silver Slugger Awards annually since 1980.

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With some top prospects pushing for time, how and when do they impact roster?

Heston Kjerstad white jersey

One of the biggest questions facing the Orioles for next season is how and when to turn over significant playing time to some of their top prospects? When is the right time to not only call up a player but commit to that player as a regular?

The Orioles have more than three players that are on the verge of cracking the everyday lineup or pushing to do that, but the three that are right on the cusp include two we have already seen in the majors in outfielders Colton Cowser and Heston Kjerstad and one we have not. That’s the big one, MLB’s No. 1 prospect in shortstop Jackson Holliday.

We have here three players ranked by at least one major outlet as among the top 25 prospects in baseball. Holliday is No. 1 by both Baseball America and MLBPipeline.com while Cowser is No. 11 by Baseball America and No. 14 via MLB. Kjerstad is No. 24 via MLB and No. 43 by Baseball America.

Sometimes an injury will determine when this player gets in the lineup and then it’s up to the player to take the chance and run with it. Sometimes a prospect will make the roster but not have regular playing time. That is always a big decision to make. Is the prospect better suited to just play every day on the farm or learn on the job in the big leagues even if not playing a lot? How will the prospect handle not playing a lot?

Cowser got into 26 games with the 2023 Orioles and hit .115/.286/.148/.433. Known for a good batting eye and patient approach with nice gap-to-gap pop, he managed a 16.9 walk rate in that limited sample with a 28.6 K rate. There is some swing and miss in his game, but this is also a player that gets at least average grades on defense and is considered a plus runner.

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Mike Elias and O's get honored by MLB and now look to take the winning farther

Mike Elias

Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias was the latest from the organization to pick up an award yesterday. An award that really honors the entire organization for a rebuild that started with 115 losses and ended up this year with an AL East championship, the club’s first playoff berth in seven years and 101 wins.

But Elias is at the head of the club’s baseball operations department, and he put together the front office that yesterday got such deserved recognition.

And he was named MLB's Executive of the Year. 

“It’s been just really gratifying seeing Baltimore, the city of Baltimore and Maryland, back as a baseball capital, like it should be,” Elias said Tuesday morning in an interview on MLB Network. “Seeing Camden Yards back alive and our city, they love this group of players. It was a terrific regular season. We came up very short in the playoffs and I think it’s keeping us hungry as we start this offseason. But definitely a season to remember. And the recognition for our front office and our organization is really meaningful to me.”

The first two draft picks made by Elias and his regime in the 2019 MLB Draft were Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson. They were such a huge part of the rebuild. To that he added much more homegrown talent, building what he said he would – an elite talent pipeline. One that now has the No. 1 ranked farm in the sport and a growing international program that this year in catcher Samuel Basallo, produced its first top 100 prospect.

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Mike Elias named MLB Executive of the Year

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Major League Baseball today announced that Orioles Executive Vice President and General Manager MIKE ELIAS has been voted the MLB Executive of the Year. The official award bestowed by MLB resulted from voting among the 30 clubs, each of which cast a vote prior to the start of the Postseason.

The Orioles posted a 101-61 record in 2023, finishing 2.0 games ahead of Tampa Bay to secure the club’s 10th AL East title and first since 2014. Baltimore’s 101 wins are tied with the 1971 team for the fourth-most in a single season in club history (since 1954), trailing 109 in 1969, 108 in 1970, and 102 in 1979. The O’s were the only team in the AL and one of three teams in MLB to win 100 games this season, along with the Braves (104-58) and Dodgers (100-62).

Baltimore’s core included homegrown players drafted and developed during Elias’ tenure, including All-Star catcher ADLEY RUTSCHMAN and Most Valuable Oriole Award-winning infielder GUNNAR HENDERSON, trade acquisitions like breakout right-hander KYLE BRADISH, All-Star reliever YENNIER CANO, left-hander DANNY COULOMBE, catcher JAMES McCANN, and first baseman/outfielder RYAN O’HEARN, and free agent veterans infielder ADAM FRAZIER, starting right-hander KYLE GIBSON, and outfielder AARON HICKS. 2020 Rule 5 selection TYLER WELLS led Baltimore’s starting rotation for the first half of the season before transitioning to the bullpen in September. Six players made their Major League debuts for the O’s in 2023, with five finishing the season on Baltimore’s 40-man roster: outfielders COLTON COWSER and HESTON KJERSTAD, infielders JOEY ORTIZ and JORDAN WESTBURG, and right-handed starter GRAYSON RODRIGUEZ. Kjerstad, Rodriguez, and Westburg finished the season with the Orioles and appeared on Baltimore’s ALDS roster.

Elias, who was also voted the Sporting News 2023 MLB Executive of the Year by fellow AL and NL executives, completed his 17th season in MLB and fifth in Baltimore this year. He was named the Orioles’ Executive Vice President and General Manager on November 16, 2018. During his tenure, the Yale alumnus has worked quickly to revamp the Orioles’ player development system, revitalize the club’s international scouting presence, and expand the team’s analytics department. As a result of these dedicated efforts, the franchise is now flush with young talent and positioned for longstanding competitiveness in the AL East. Over the last two seasons, the Orioles (184-140) own the third-best record in the AL and fifth-best in MLB, behind only the Dodgers (211-113), Braves (205-119), Astros (196-128), and Rays (185-139). The Orioles’ farm system retained its spot at the top in the 2023 midseason rankings by Baseball AmericaESPN, and MLB Pipeline, marking the second straight year that they have been ranked as the best farm system in baseball by these three outlets. The Orioles are the first organization to rank No. 1 in five straight MLB Pipeline farm system rankings.

MLB began its official Executive of the Year Award at the conclusion of the 2018 season, with Billy Beane of the Oakland Athletics earning the inaugural honors, followed by Erik Neander of the Tampa Bay Rays in 2019, Andrew Friedman of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2020, Farhan Zaidi of the San Francisco Giants in 2021, and Chris Antonetti of the Cleveland Guardians in 2022.

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Bigger winter priority: Starting rotation or bullpen?

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The question of do the Orioles more need a starting pitcher or a reliever may well be asked but isn’t the answer probably “both.” And can’t they get both?

Not only can they, they probably will. They surely can multi-task and it’s very unlikely that any one addition will keep them from making another. Even in the same spot on the roster, that spot being the pitching staff.

What is their biggest need is subjective to all of us pondering the question and whatever we come up with may or may not match the team’s thinking and that is the one that counts the most.

And unless they make a major expenditure here and sign someone to a larger than expected contract, adding someone as a starter or reliever is not likely to impact the addition of the other.

When it comes to the market, how that plays out may also determine in what order the Orioles proceed here. It takes two to tango and sometimes players and their agents want to wait to see others sign before as they say, “setting the market.”

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A look at Austin Hays' 2023 season

Austin Hays

For a time in June, Orioles left fielder Austin Hays was leading the American League in batting average. He was hitting as high as .327 on June 20. He didn’t finish above .300 but still wound up tied for 12th in the AL in average.

Over 144 games and 566 plate appearances, Hays batted .275/.325/.444/.769 with 36 doubles, two triples, 16 homers, 76 runs, five steals and 67 RBIs. His OPS+ of 114 ranked sixth among O’s everyday players and was his best mark in the three full seasons he has played, surpassing the 107 from 2021 and 105 from last year.

So Hays had an overall solid 2023 season, but it was another one where his stats fell off in the second half. That happened to him in 2022 also, but it was still a 2023 season where he produced career highs in doubles, runs, hits (143), extra-base hits (54) and multi-hit games (40). He tied for ninth in the AL in doubles and was 29th in OPS.

In the first half of this year, before he made his first All-Star game appearance and started in center field, Hays batted .314 with an .853 OPS. And that fell to 228/.667 in the second half. His OPS in 2022 dropped from .779 to .626 half to half.

During spring training this year Hays said he got pull happy at times late in the 2022 season and he needed to stay with an up-the-middle and gap-to-gap approach.

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A look at 2024 World Series odds and other notes

rutschman celebrates division clinch 2023

The Orioles are tied for the seventh-best betting favorite to win the 2024 World Series. That is a step up from last winter when they were tied for the 17th in odds from betonline.ag.

7/1: Atlanta

8/1: Los Angeles Dodgers

9/1: Houston, Texas

12/1: New York Yankees, Philadelphia

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Is this free agent pitcher a good fit for the Orioles?

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Now that the World Series is over, the hot stove season has just about arrived. Soon we’ll be hearing and reading rumors of potential trades and free agent acquisitions. The hot stove season can garner about as much interest as the regular season.

If the Orioles look to dip into the free agent pool and don’t want to dive into the deep end but yet get a difference-maker, I can see one out there. And this is based off salary projections from an article this week in the New York Post.

Pitchers that could be out of the Orioles' reach and/or comfort level and be in line for at least $100 million or close, per that article, are Blake Snell, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Aaron Nola, Jordan Montgomery and Eduardo Rodriguez.

But the outlet listed free agent right-hander Sonny Gray at a price tag that could be in the wheelhouse for the Orioles and a lot of other teams. The paper quoted expert No. 1 and expert No. 2, who I assume are front office execs in the sport. One projected that Gray would get a three-year deal worth $65 million and another put it at three years and $66 million.

Gray is coming off a fantastic year with the Minnesota Twins during which he went 8-8 with a 2.79 ERA and 1.147 WHIP in 184 innings over 32 starts. He ranked second in the American League and third in the majors in ERA, and was fourth in the AL in average against (.226), third in OPS (.607 behind Kyle Bradish at .605) and fifth in groundball rate.

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A few thoughts and notes on the Rangers' World Series title

Bruce Bochy

When the Orioles took the field for Game 1 of the American League Division Series, we would be watching the eventual World Series champion. It just would not be the team in Orange and Black.

But the Texas Rangers, a team that lost 102 games in 2021 and went 68-94 last year. A team that won just 90 games this year and a team that from Aug. 16-Sept. 8 went 4-16 and was outscored by 61 runs. Yep, that team. A team that went 1-3 on the season’s final weekend to let the AL West get away and enter the playoffs as the No. 5 AL seed.

The Rangers had a losing record on the road during the regular season, going 40-41. So of course, they went 11-0 on the road in the playoffs. They had a losing record in one-run games (14-22) during the regular year. So of course, they went 3-1 in one-run games during the postseason and 2-0 in two-run games. A team that entered the postseason with the bullpen ranked 11th in the AL. And of course, during the postseason, the trio of Jose Leclerc, Aroldis Chapman and Josh Sborz pitched to a combined 2.14 ERA.

Remember when we thought the O’s might find an edge in that while Texas’ team OPS at home ranked first in the AL, they were just seventh on the road.

The Rangers this year had the 10th-best team ERA in the American League at 4.28. That is 10th as in better than just five clubs. We should all remember that the next time someone says the O’s pitching is not good enough to win the WS.

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There were surprise players on the farm too for the Orioles

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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 MLBPipeline.com 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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In playoffs, Gunnar Henderson faced a player he has often been compared with

Gunnar Henderson white jersey

When the Orioles played the Texas Rangers in the American League Division Series, O’s shortstop Gunnar Henderson was in the opposite dugout from a player he has been compared to for several years.

The comps started well before Henderson would be selected No. 42 overall by the Orioles in the June 2019 MLB Draft. That big kid at shortstop from Alabama’s John T. Morgan Academy in Selma was compared to then Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager, who had been the 2016 National League Rookie of the Year.

In the 2012 MLB Draft, the Dodgers had selected Seager No. 18 overall out of a North Carolina high school. He was named NL ROY in his age 22 season. Henderson, who turned 22 in June, is the heavy favorite to win the AL Rookie of the Year Award later this month.

The Henderson-Seager comps are still out there.

In early September, in a very flattering article on the Orioles for Sports Illustrated, Tom Verducci wrote that “Henderson has hit more homers (23) already than any 22-and-under rookie shortstop except Cal Ripken (28), Corey Seager (26) and Troy Tulowitzki (24). He is Seager with a better glove and more speed,” said Verducci.

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Christian Walker became a top talent in Arizona and now plays in World Series

Christian Walker Diamondbacks

In most World Series we can probably find an ex-Oriole or two or three to watch play on baseball’s biggest stage. Among the former Birds in this World Series is one of the real good guys, Arizona first baseman Christian Walker. He has found a home in Arizona since they acquired him in March of 2017 and the last two years he has hit 69 homers.

While he has not had a great offensive performance this postseason, he is a middle-of-the-order fixture for the 2023 National League champs. When the Orioles were in Arizona in early September, I caught up with Walker, someone I had interview numerous times when he was trying to work his way through the O’s minors.

Baltimore drafted him in round four of 2012 out of the University of South Carolina, where he was on two NCAA championship clubs. He was often ranked among the O’s top 20 prospects and went as high as their No. 3 prospect in 2015 via Baseball America.

But with the Orioles he had Chris Davis in front of him at first base and when the club signed Davis to the long-term contract before the 2016 season that kind of sealed his fate with the organization. Walker wound up getting just 27 at-bats with the big club over parts of the 2014-2015 seasons. After the Davis contract was final, the club moved him to the outfield at Triple-A for the 2016 season. But that did not lead him back to Baltimore.

The Orioles DFA'd him on Feb. 21, 2017 and four days later Atlanta added him via waivers. About 10 days later, Cincinnati added him and about three weeks later, on March 28, 2017, Arizona claimed him off waivers. Yep, he was with four teams in about six weeks.

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The '24 Birds are no doubt counting on another big year from Yennier Cano

Yennier Cano white jersey

With the Orioles set to play the entire 2024 season without closer Félix Bautista, which pitchers replace him in the ninth inning and how well they do next year will have a lot to say about the O’s team performance for the year.

Obviously, we don’t know yet the makeup of the 2024 bullpen and if the team will look to acquire via trade or free agency someone that could pitch the ninth. But one pitcher that will be in that late-inning mix is right-hander Yennier Cano, mentioned in this space yesterday as a player that surprised us in the 2023 season.

He sure did. He was not even on the Opening Day roster and in the 2022 season, between the Twins and Orioles in brief action, he had posted an 11.50 ERA and 2.333 WHIP. Then that same guy began his 2023 O’s season with 17 straight scoreless outings. That is about as surprising as it can get.

After Cano became more hittable in the second half – somewhat expected when you are almost unhittable – he no doubt has some doubters entering the winter.

But let’s look at some numbers first.

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These players surprised us in the 2023 season

Yennier Cano

On their way to 101 wins, an American League East championship and the club's first playoff berth since 2016, the Orioles featured several players who had strong seasons ranging from good to great. Some were expected, some came as surprises. Some were big surprises.

Yennier Cano: No one, I mean no one, could have predicted that Cano, who was not even on the Opening Day roster, would begin his season with 17 consecutive scoreless appearances. 

They were not just scoreless, impressive in itself. They were completely dominant.

He was almost unhittable from his April 14 season debut through May 19. Over 21 2/3 scoreless, Cano allowed just four hits with no walks and 25 strikeouts. He allowed an .061 batting average and .150 OPS against.

Cano tied the club record set by Fred Holdsworth in 1976 by setting down the first 24 batters he faced to start the season in order. He set the O’s record with 32 hitless at-bats to begin a season, the most by a major league pitcher since Milwaukee's Josh Hader (35) to begin 2020. His streak of 20 straight games without a walk to start the season was the second-longest in O’s history, behind a 22-game streak by Jamie Walker to open the 2009 campaign.

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Do Orioles count on Cowser to make Opening Day roster?

cowser debut

Triple-A Norfolk manager Buck Britton summoned Colton Cowser to his office following a July 4 game and told the outfielder to pack his bags. He was joining the Orioles in New York. The wait was over.

Cowser’s time in the majors met the same fate on Aug. 14, with the Orioles optioning him to create roster space after Aaron Hicks' reinstatement from the injured list. Cowser had seven hits in 61 at-bats, with three coming in his first five games.

“It’s not always a terrible thing to have a guy come up here and experience what big league pitching is like and what major league life is like and understand how to go through adjustments,” manager Brandon Hyde said while explaining the decision. “We saw Grayson (Rodriguez) do that earlier this year and he came back a different guy.”

Cowser came back on Sept. 1 but lasted only two days on the expanded roster and didn’t play. Hicks returned from a second stint on the IL. Cowser had to leave again.

He wasn’t on the playoff roster. He wasn’t on the taxi squad. But it wasn’t a total loss.

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The pitchers had a solid season, and it got better in the second half

Kyle Bradish white

In one sense it was a bit unexpected that an O’s pitching staff that performed so well in the second half of the 2023 season would perform poorly in the playoffs. But they gave up 21 runs as Texas swept the Orioles in three games. They gave up 18 in the last two games as starters Grayson Rodriguez and Dean Kremer combined to allow 11 runs in 3 1/3 innings.

Texas is a good hitting team, but Orioles pitchers seemed to be hitting their stride the longer the season went on. This time Texas got the better of them.

For the 2023 season, the O’s team ERA was 3.89 to rank fifth-best in the American League. Baltimore was just a few points behind third-place Tampa Bay's 3.86 and a bit further back of first-place Minnesota's 3.74.

In the first half of the season Orioles pitching went 54-35 (.607) with a 4.15 ERA. In the second half the staff went 47-26 (.644) with a 3.58 ERA of 3.58 that was first in the AL and third in the major leagues. The O's played at a 104-win pace after the All-Star game.

The O’s team ERA by month in 2023:

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Orioles Announce Scouting Promotions in Baseball Operations

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The Baltimore Orioles today announced the following promotions within the scouting departments in Baseball Operations: MATT BLOOD has been promoted from Director, Player Development to Vice President, Player Development and Domestic Scouting; KOBY PEREZ has been promoted from Senior Director, International Scouting to Vice President, International Scouting and Operations; MIKE SNYDER has been promoted from Director, Pro Scouting to Senior Director, Pro Scouting; GERARDO CABRERA has been promoted from Latin American Supervisor to Director, Latin American Scouting; KEVIN CARTER has been promoted from Senior Analyst, Pro Scouting to Manager, Pro Scouting; HENDRIK HERZ has been promoted from Senior Analyst, Scouting to Manager, Domestic Scouting Analysis; CHAD TATUM has been promoted from Senior Analyst, Scouting to Manager, Domestic Scouting; WILL ROBERTSON has been promoted from Senior Analyst, Pro Scouting to Special Assignment Scout; ALEX TARANDEK has been promoted from Analyst, Scouting to Senior Analyst, Scouting; MICHAEL WEIS has been named Senior Data Scientist, Draft Evaluation, and MARIA ARELLANO has been named Senior Manager, International Operations and Baseball Administration.

 

“We are very proud to announce this wave of promotions for a group of exceptionally talented and hard-working people,” said MIKE ELIAS, Orioles Executive Vice President and General Manager. “Each has played a vital role in the recent success of the franchise, including the numerous accolades for our top-ranked farm system, the expansion of our international scouting presence, and of course bringing the AL East championship back to Baltimore with a historic 101-win season. I would like to congratulate each of these individuals on their well-deserved promotions and thank John Angelos and the entire partnership group for their steadfast support and investment in Orioles baseball.”

 

Blood will be responsible for overseeing the Orioles’ player development and domestic scouting operations, including staff recruitment and development, implementation of player development strategies and programs throughout the entire minor league system, and First-Year Player Draft operations. He will continue to report to Elias. Blood joined the Orioles organization as the Director of Player Development in September of 2019. During his tenure, the Orioles have ascended organizational farm system rankings, now rated as the top system in all of baseball by Baseball AmericaESPN, and MLB Pipeline. He has 12 years of Major League experience and has spent 18 years in professional and amateur baseball. Prior to joining the Orioles, Blood served as the Director of Player Development for the Texas Rangers for the 2019 season. He also worked for the St. Louis Cardinals as an area scout from 2009-15 and served as the Team Director for USA Baseball’s 18U National Team from 2016-18. Blood graduated from the University of North Carolina in 2007 with a degree in economics. He resides in Baltimore with his wife, Allison, and their two children, Henry and Ben.

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