Notes on Gillaspie, new hire, Severino signing and Rombach

Seconds after filing my story on Friday’s additions to the 40-man roster that protected players in the Rule 5 draft, I did a quick search on Logan Gillaspie to make certain that I didn’t completely dismiss his chances. That I didn’t write something like, “He’s in the Arizona Fall League and out of this discussion.”

I typed his name as “Conner Gillaspie” the next morning while trying to look up his statistics, then slapped myself and got it right.

This guy deserves better.

I’ve never watched Gillaspie pitch. He didn’t enter the organization until June, after the Brewers released him, and I’m pretty much tethered to Camden Yards or the television for Orioles coverage. I know him only for his backstory and numbers.

Gillaspie, 24, had a 4.97 ERA and 1.32 WHIP this summer in 26 games between Single-A Aberdeen and Double-A Bowie. He walked 11 batters and struck out 52 in 41 2/3 innings.

The strikeouts rose after the Orioles signed him. He averaged 7.4 per nine innings in 2018 and 7.6 in 2019 in Milwaukee’s system, didn’t pitch in 2020 due to the cancellation of the minor league season and averaged 11.2 in 2021 at his highest levels.

I also knew that the Orioles assigned him to the Arizona Fall League, where he had a 9.00 ERA and 1.786 WHIP in 14 innings with the Mesa Solar Sox, with seven walks and 18 strikeouts. He surrendered two home runs, but averages 0.8 per nine innings as a professional.

Gillaspie got one more chance Saturday night in the AFL championship game and tossed a scoreless inning with three strikeouts in Mesa’s 6-0 win over Surprise.

I knew that it all began with Gillaspie, who turns 25 in April, going undrafted out of Oxnard College in California and spending 2017 with three independent league teams.

Also, I noticed that the Orioles had a bunch of guys in the organization with unusual spellings of their names, something Roch would be all over, of course. And something that would make my mind drift.

I had to avoid referring to him as “Gillespie.” Just like Spenser/Spencer Watkins, Dusten/Dustin Knight, Konner/Conner Wade.

And he’s listed as a catcher, too. So in case of emergency ...

Gillaspie wasn’t a lock for the 40-man roster, wasn’t a “likely” and didn’t seem to be a bubble guy. He was virtually ignored while more of the pitching attention fell upon Félix Bautista, who was protected. And Nick Vespi, Blaine Knight, Ofelky Peralta, Cody Sedlock and Brenan Hanifee, who were not.

Is Gillaspie a possibility for the Orioles bullpen on opening day? I’ll go out on a limb again and say he’s more likely to be assigned to Triple-A, a new level for him, especially after registering a 5.60 ERA and 1.463 WHIP in 15 games with Bowie, but spring training performance could elevate him higher.

Striking out hitters, averaging fewer than 3.0 walks per nine innings and rarely letting the ball leave the park will get a pitcher noticed and win over a manager.

“He was a guy who came to us in the latter half of the season and we really didn’t know much about him, but obviously you look at the stuff and it was really good,” said Bowie pitching coach Justin Ramsey. “It’s one of those arms where, if he can hone in his command of the zone, you can’t let that go and have a chance of him catching on somewhere else.

“He’s a guy who works hard, he wants to get better. You saw what the stuff looked like in the fall league and a little bit with us. It’s a real arm. He’s got multiple pitches that, he’s getting to the point where he can throw them anytime, so as much as it (40-man spot) might have come out of nowhere for some, it’s not a total shock to others.”

You just need to look beyond the overall numbers this season, though they were strong in the championship game and included a fastball that touched 98 mph.

“When you look at just the numbers, I want to say it was a (5.60 ERA) for us, but when you look at what he did on the last day of the year when we had to win the game to make the playoffs and he goes three innings and punches out seven,” Ramsey said. “He went into a bases-loaded situation and no outs and he absolutely dominated. He was up to 98 (mph), doing everything he needed to do. So you can see what’s there when he puts it together. He’s just got to maintain the focus a little more consistently throughout the outings, and when he does that and continues to learns to command the pitches in the zone, he’s going to have a chance to really help at the highest level.”

* The Orioles hired Collin Murray as a developmental coach in their minor league system. He made the announcement on Twitter and a source confirmed it.

Murray worked as a Tigers baseball information assistant in 2021 after serving as a graduate assistant coach at Georgia Southern University, where he was responsible for all data collection and implementation - serving as an intermediate between the coaching staff and the players.

According to his LinkedIn.com page, Murray “created an application (R Shiny) that simplified player trends, strengths & weaknesses.”

Before working at Georgia Southern University, Murray was player development and pitching coordinator in the South Florida Collegiate Baseball League in 2020. His use of high-speed cameras and the pitchLogic baseball, with cutting-edge technology embedded inside, make him a comfortable fit in the Orioles organization.

His professional experience also includes his hiring by the Angels in December 2019 as minor league video manager.

Thumbnail image for Severino-Tags-Runner-Out-at-Home-White-Sidebar.jpg* The Brewers reached agreement with former Orioles catcher Pedro Severino on a one-year deal worth $1.9 million guaranteed pending a physical, according to ESPN.com’s Jeff Passan. Incentives are worth an extra $400,000.

Severino elected free agency earlier this month after the Orioles outrighted him to Triple-A Norfolk. He was expected to be non-tendered as an arbitration-eligible, with his salary projected to climb above $3 million.

The Orioles selected Severino off waivers from the Nationals in March 2019 and he batted .249/.315/.397 in 257 games. He slashed .248/.308/.383 this summer in 113 games, with 18 doubles, 11 home runs and 46 RBIs. He also committed 10 passed balls and there were 66 wild pitches with him behind the plate.

The 40-man roster doesn’t include any catchers and the Orioles are expected to sign at least one in free agency, with a willingness to offer a major league deal. They’re also considering minor league free agents.

* Former Orioles Midwest crosschecker Deron Rombach passed away Saturday from complications related to a positive COVID-19 test on Oct. 25. He left behind a wife, Kim, and children Dane, Kelsey, Kacie and Nate.

Rombach was hired as Braves national crosschecker during the 2009 offseason. The Orioles previously had promoted him from Texas area scout to crosschecker after the 2000 season.

The Orioles selected five players recommended by Rombach that year, including No. 1 pick Beau Hale, a right-hander out of the University of Texas whose career was derailed by a shoulder injury. Rombach scouted southern California for the Astros before joining the Orioles.

Rombach was inducted into the Texas Scouts Association Hall of Fame in 2018.

A GoFundMe page was set up for Rombach’s family a few days ago.

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