To keep the activity in its proper order, discussions about filling vacancies on the Orioles roster should be tabled until trades are consummated.
But who said anything about being proper?
This could open the door for veteran Fernando Abad, who has spent the entire season with Norfolk. The 5.23 ERA doesn’t have him beating it down, but he’s struck out 20 batters in 20 2/3 innings and he brings more of a track record than many others.
Abad had walked only four batters until last night, when he issued two and also allowed two hits in a scoreless inning-plus. Dusten Knight stranded two runners.
Abad registered a 3.60 ERA until allowing two runs in each of his next three appearances before last night. He was scored upon in only one of his first nine outings, permitting one run on May 12.
Or the Orioles keep him in Triple-A and figure out something else. Who knows?
Left-hander Keegan Akin could be bumped from the rotation after going on the COVID-19 injured list, making him a candidate for long relief.
The Orioles moved up lefty Nick Vespi, an 18th-round pick in 2015 from Palm Beach State College, to Norfolk after he posted a 1.42 ERA and 0.947 WHIP in 14 relief appearances with Double-A Bowie and struck out 26 batters in 19 innings. But he spent the 2019 season at low Single-A Delmarva and the majors would be an aggressive leap in 2021.
Stranger things have happened, of course. Like how I’m wondering about roster replacements before a trade is announced.
As I’ve written previously, there’s also the possibility of Cole Sulser or Dillon Tate finding a new home. Hunter Harvey eventually is going to return from the injured list, just not by Friday. The Orioles are hoping he can start pitching in rehab games by early August at the latest.
The right-handed relief possibilities at Norfolk are extensive, including Shawn Armstrong, Eric Hanhold and Knight, the latter sporting an 0.71 ERA with six saves in 22 games following two scoreless innings last night.
The market for Freddy Galvis took a hit with his quadriceps injury, but he’s supposed to start playing in rehab games this week and maybe the Orioles can find a suitor that doesn’t need him right away or have concerns about the layoff. There just wouldn’t figure to be much of a return.
Ramón Urías has done a great job as Galvis’ replacement, both at the plate and shortstop. There wouldn’t necessarily have to be a corresponding move, but at some point we should expect Jahmai Jones to play second base in Baltimore. Whether or not Galvis is traded.
The Orioles keep promoting their minor leaguers in bunches, as if notifications come in a group text.
Yesterday’s upward movement involved eight pitchers, the highest profile belonging to Mike Baumann, the No. 7 prospect in the system, per MLBPipeline.com, and No. 8 per Baseball America.
Baumann was dominating in July with Double-A Bowie before his assignment to Norfolk, going 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, .169 average against, four walks and 26 strikeouts in 22 innings. He struck out seven in six scoreless innings in Friday’s start.
The forearm/elbow discomfort that dogged him last summer and again earlier this year seems to be in the past and he’s threatening to crack the Orioles’ roster later this summer and certainly vie for a starting spot next spring.
“I haven’t gotten a great look because his spring training was so short and he wasn’t fully healthy,” manager Brandon Hyde said yesterday. “I hear great things about him. It’s nice to see. I heard a lot about him two years ago in Double-A and the arm, the projection of what it could possibly be. Nice to see him have a good outing his last start and be on the move.”
The two might not be related, but it doesn’t hurt to beef up Norfolk’s pitching staff in case the Orioles start dipping into it.