Orioles claim Bryan Baker off waivers (with Mountcastle note)

The Orioles claimed reliever Bryan Baker off waivers from the Blue Jays this afternoon, increasing their 40-man roster to 32 players.

Baker, who turns 27 next month, made his major league debut with a scoreless inning against the Athletics on Sept. 5. He allowed a hit and struck out a batter in his lone appearance.

An 11th-round pick of the Rockies in 2016 out of the University of North Florida, Baker went 6-1 with a 1.31 ERA and 0.847 WHIP this summer in 39 relief appearances with Triple-A Buffalo. He struck out 48 batters and surrendered only one home run in 41 1/3 innings.

Angry-bird-bag-sidebar.jpgBaker has registered a 3.18 ERA and 1.301 WHIP in five minor league seasons and 174 games, with only 13 starts. He’s averaged 4.2 walks, 10.3 strikeouts and 0.9 home runs per nine innings.

The Rockies traded Baker, who’s listed at 6-foot-6 and 245 lbs., to the Blue Jays on Aug. 14, 2018 to complete an earlier deal for pitcher Seunghwan Oh.

Baker has a mid-90s fastball and complements it with an upper 80s slider. He has two minor league options remaining.

The bullpen certainly has room for Baker, especially after the Giants claimed Hunter Harvey off waivers last week to remove the former first-round pick from the competition.

Meanwhile, pitcher Spenser Watkins and catcher Nick Ciuffo, who cleared outright waivers, elected to become minor league free agents.

The Orioles shut down outfielder Yusniel Diaz after seven games in the Arizona Fall League due to left shoulder strain. The injury occurred on a swing.

The move is done as a precaution, similar to outfielder Kyle Stowers, to provide ample rest and set him up for a normal offseason program in preparation for spring training.

Diaz, 25, appeared in only 54 games with Triple-A Norfolk this summer due to a strained quadriceps muscle and turf toe and batted .157/.225/.251 with four doubles and four home runs.

Note: Ryan Mountcastle isn’t a finalist for American League Rookie of the Year. Voters with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America favored Tampa Bay’s Randy Arozarena and Wander Franco and Houston’s Luis Garcia.

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