Joseph offers scouting report on Liranzo

SARASOTA, Fla. - Caleb Joseph raised his mitt during a recent bullpen session, awaiting the pitch from 21-year-old Jesús Liranzo, never expecting it to arrive so quickly.

The ball almost startled Joseph, who was catching Liranzo for the first time. It definitely impressed him.

joseph-looking-over-in-gear-white-sidebar.jpg“I’m not going to say his windup lulls you to sleep. I don’t want to say that. But it’s not a very violent windup,” Joseph said.

“You don’t expect the ball to be on you as fast as it is. That was what I was really impressed with. When I first put my glove up there, it was in my glove before I was ready for it to be in my glove. I was like, ‘Oh, OK.’ I was watching his windup, just watching him, and before you know it ...

“Very quick arm, but it’s controlled. Very smooth. He had a good feel for the slider. You have to understand, too, it’s really early, so it’s hard to really judge, but the action of it looked good. And he threw a couple really good splits.”

The Orioles are learning more about Liranzo. He earned a spot on the 40-man roster prior to the Rule 5 draft by posting a 1.87 ERA and 0.887 WHIP in 27 combined games at low Single-A Delmarva and Double-A Bowie, hurdling the high Single-A Carolina League in the process.

Liranzo averaged 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings at Delmarva, where he registered a 1.31 ERA and 0.786 WHIP in 34 1/3 innings, and 9.6 strikeouts/nine innings at Bowie. Scouts obviously took notice and the Orioles weren’t going to risk losing him.

“I had never seen him before. I just heard things about him,” Joseph said. “Of course, we protected him, so there’s an anticipation there because he’s young and they’re not just going to protect him unless they think he truly has a great chance of making the team.

“I caught him and he’s got a great presence. I first noticed his intensity in the PFP drills. He’s taking it very seriously. Initially, that’s a great thing. Then we get on the mound and just really good command of the four-seam. I was really impressed with his fastball command for a young kid. I know Ramon (Martinez) probably has been working with him. Very clean delivery.

“I think mainly the thing I was most impressed with was his fastball command. You just don’t see that from more of a hard thrower. I hear he can get up there in the fives, sixes, sevens and even eights. And I was very impressed. For a young kid like that, normally they come out and they’re throwing BBs all over the place, but their location is not as good.

“I’m excited. He seems like a really nice pickup for us. I’m glad he’s on our side.”

Liranzo threw another bullpen session yesterday, positioned next to left-hander Chris Lee on one of the side mounds beside the indoor batting cage.

“He’s got a good arm,” said manager Buck Showalter. “Probably has the highest starting point of his legs of anybody in camp. Check out walking around where his arms come to compared to everybody else’s. He is long-limbed, which creates a lot of leverage.”

These are the things that Showalter notices.

“Good kid,” Showalter continued. “That’s a guy who could really burst on the scene.”

Liranzo is scheduled to pitch in Wednesday’s intrasquad game at Ed Smith Stadium. Today’s six-inning game features Mike Wright, Logan Verrett, Zach Stewart, Jason Garcia, Jayson Aquino and Joe Gunkel on one team, and Tyler Wilson, Gabriel Ynoa, Donnie Hart, Oliver Drake, Parker Bridwell and Richard Rodríguez on the other team.

New left-hander Vidal Nuño is flying into Sarasota tonight and will report to camp on Wednesday. He figures to be part of the bullpen in April, leaving one open spot if you factor in Hart, Zach Britton, Darren O’Day, Brad Brach and Mychal Givens. Verrett could be the right-handed version of Nuno - a long reliever capable of making the occasional start, but Logan Ondrusek and Drake also are candidates to head north with the team.

Ondrusek, as I wrote yesterday, won’t pitch today and probably will be held out of Wednesday’s game while recovering from an ankle injury.

The trade for Nuño made T.J. McFarland expendable and it didn’t do much for Jed Bradley, another left-hander who’s in camp as a non-roster invitee.

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