French recalls early days coaching Pérez


SARASOTA, Fla. – The reunion between Orioles reliever Cionel Pérez and pitching coach Drew French was much easier to arrange than their first meeting.

The Astros signed Pérez, a native of Matanzas, Cuba, to a $5.15 million bonus in 2016 as an international free agent, but they voided the deal a month later due to an issue with his physical that led to concerns from the medical staff that he’d eventually need elbow surgery. The agreement was restructured in December at $2 million.

Perez made his professional debut in 2017 with the Class A Quad Cities River Bandits, the eventual Midwest League champions. His pitching coach was French, who saw potential inside a raw prospect.

French, hired by the Orioles in November to serve in the same role, introduced Pérez to the organization’s standards and methods, while also trying to ease his transition to life in a new country.

“I remember the onboarding process of, this is kind of our North Star, this is how we grade you, this is how we look at your delivery and your arsenal, and this is how we expect things to go, and throwing the ball in certain places,” French said earlier this week.

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In chasing improved command, Chayce McDermott took nice step versus the Phillies


SARASOTA, Fla. – For young Orioles pitcher Chayce McDermott, the club’s Jim Palmer Award winner last year as the top minor league pitcher, his outing Tuesday in Clearwater was a nice step in his development.

Usually a starter, he pitched in relief and with not a ton of notice when he would throw. But he pitched scoreless ball in the seventh and eighth innings on 34 pitches versus the Phillies. And he was upbeat about the radar gun readings. His fastball averaged 95.4 mph and topped at 96.7.

“It was good, got some good feedback,” he said today of his second spring outing. “Felt good to throw out of the ‘pen too and kind of let it go a little bit. Threw harder than I normally do. But it was fun. Getting to watch some guys I grew up watching like (J.T.) Realmuto.

“There is some stuff to work on, but for the most part, it was good. Staying in the strike zone, getting strikeouts and not walking anyone.”

McDermott, 25, is ranked as the club's No. 8 prospect by Baseball America where his fastball and slider get 60 scouting grades and No. 9 by

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Players in Orioles camp excited to have Burnes on the club

Corbin Burnes Brewers white 2

SARASOTA, Fla. – Orioles infielder Jordan Westburg was sitting on his couch with wife Anna Claire when she suddenly went from spouse to source.

“I didn’t have my phone on me,” Westburg said this morning. “We were watching a movie and she’s like, ‘Hey, who is Corbin Burnes?’ It was just a random question for her to ask. I was like, ‘Why do you ask?’ And she shows me her phone and there’s the Oriole Bird logo and ESPN notification.”

That was the precise moment when Westburg found out that the Orioles acquired Burnes, the No. 1 starter they sought throughout the winter, from the Brewers for pitcher DL Hall and infielder Joey Ortiz.

“I was fired up about it. It was exciting,” Westburg said.

“I’m trying to think of what my initial reaction was. I think it was just pure excitement for the organization really. I think a lot of people on the outside have been wanting that ace and we went and got him. Just really exciting.

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Tate "ready to go for camp" and return to Orioles bullpen

Dillon Tate throws black

The smile probably said the most about Dillon Tate’s right arm.

Tate is encouraged by his health as he waits for other pitchers to report to spring training on Feb. 14. He’s gotten a head start down in Sarasota, taking a break this weekend to attend the Birdland Caravan.

The last pitch thrown by Tate with the Orioles was 15 months ago. He was sidelined by a forearm/flexor strain sustained in November, went on an injury rehab assignment and suffered a stress reaction in his right elbow/forearm area that executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said was unrelated to the previous injury.

Meeting with reporters this morning at Bowlero in Timonium, Tate said he’s “ready to go for camp.” He was working out at the Driveline Baseball facility in Washington, and Brandon Mann, the senior pitching coordinator, posted an Instagram video last month of Tate registering 99.8 mph with a Plyo ball.

“Just excited to be back out there,” Tate said. “In camp a little bit earlier right now, just trying to get acclimated with everything, and I’ll be ready to go by the first workout.”

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In non-breaking news, Orioles still seek starting pitching

Dylan Cease white sox jersey

The Orioles’ offseason needs and intentions are threadbare from the constant reciting in the media.

They want a starting pitcher, ideally for the top half of the rotation. They seem more likely to consummate a trade than throw money at a free agent. And yes, they remain engaged with the White Sox regarding Dylan Cease, who’s under team control through 2025.

I rang in a new year with the same ringing in my ears from the repetition.

The Orioles have been active in trade talks since the offseason began and throughout the Winter Meetings. Why would they drop anchor and stop? Nothing has changed. But it’s become a tradition to provide incremental non-update updates.

I’m guilty of it, too.

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Baseball America's deep dive into minor league pitching data produced interesting O's results


It is no secret that on those top 30 prospects lists, the Orioles have many more hitters than pitchers. But a recent article in Baseball America was interesting and enlightening about the O’s pitching on the farm. In several spots, Baltimore's farm pitchers scored well.

It was Baseball America’s Farm System Statcast Pitching Rankings, co-authored by Geoff Pontes and Dylan White. It is a deep dive into minor league pitchers, aggregating full-season pitchers data, metrics and stats for hurlers between ages 17 and 26.

The BA goal was “to more accurately understand which organizations have the highest quality of overall pitching talent.” And they were attempting to “view the developing pitching talent in each organization, not the team’s ability to stock quality MiLB free agents into Triple-A bullpens.”

In an all encompassing stat called “Stuff+” per BA it “is a blended metric of each organization’s STF+ (based on their internal model), per pitch Run Value, xwOBA, and pitch quality metrics such as in-zone whiff% and chase %. The resultant number was then scaled on a wRC+ scale where 100 is average and a standard deviation is 10 points.”

The Orioles organization ranked tied for third with the New York Yankees with a score of 114, behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers at 116 and Tampa Bay Rays at 119.  

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