SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles selected him in the third round out of Jacksonville University and he might have a real bright future with the club. Yes, we could be talking about outfielder Austin Hays, but also pitcher Michael Baumann.
In 2016, the O’s selected Hays No. 91 overall out of Jacksonville. A year later, they selected Baumann No. 98 overall from Jacksonville.
In his first full season of pro ball last year, Baumann began the year in the Single-A Delmarva rotation, got off to a very fast start was promoted to Single-A Frederick on May 18. Between the teams, he went 13-5 with an ERA of 3.17. He threw 130 2/3 innings with 53 walks, 106 strikeouts and a 1.21 WHIP.
Ranked as the club’s No. 21 prospect by Baseball America and No. 27 by MLBPipeline.com, Baumann’s fastball often sits between 92 and 94 mph and can touch 97 mph. He’s got an above-average slider and also adds a curveball and changeup. MLBPipeline.com grades his fastball at 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale, his slider 55 and the other two pitches at 45.
When last year began, Baumann was pitching great. Through seven starts with Delmarva before moving up, he went 5-0 with a 1.42 ERA. Over 38 innings, he allowed 23 hits with 13 walks and 47 strikeouts.
“It was a blast,” he said off his early games with the Shorebirds. “Just to see what our team was doing at the start. Early on, we had one of the best records in the minors and there was a lot of energy in that clubhouse.
“It was awesome. It was a fun year. The group of guys we had on both teams made it even more enjoyable. Going into my first full season was a new experience and there was a learning curve and some ups and downs. But definitely a fun way to start.”
The 23-year-old Baumann is a pitcher that scouts say does a solid job throwing the ball with good downhill plane. Over two seasons on the farm, he’s 17-7 with a 2.71 ERA. He’s averaged 3.75 walks per nine innings, 7.75 strikeouts with a 1.18 WHIP. This year, he could move up to Double-A Bowie.
“When it’s going well for me, I like to establish my fastball and pitch off of that,” Baumann said. “Working in my slider and being able to keep the hitters off the fastball is huge for me. Need to keep working on my craft and my other secondary pitches. I think my slider is my best secondary. You know, hopefully I keep working on my changeup and curveball and keep throwing all of them to develop them and throw them more consistently.”
Baumann, who was the Atlantic Sun Pitcher of the Year as a freshman, got off to a good start as well when he moved to Frederick. He pitched to an ERA of 1.82 through his first five starts there. For the season with the Keys, he went 8-5 with a 3.88 ERA over 17 starts and 92 2/3 innings. He had two starts at Frederick where he gave up seven earned runs. Take those two away and his ERA was 2.77 with the Keys.
“It was exciting. It was a fun time, going into a new clubhouse with some guys I had not played with before,” Baumann said of his time with Frederick. “Seeing how they go about their business and what they are all about. They were very welcoming and it was fun to get with a new team and keep rolling. This is when I starting to hit a little learning curve and had to make a few adjustments. But it’s not always going to be an easy ride.”
“Yeah, that’s a goal (moving to Double-A), but we’ll see what happens. If they feel I’m best suited for Frederick, I’m perfectly fine going there. I love that city, love the fans. I’ll move up when they think I’m ready,” Baumann said.
The Orioles ended a three-game losing streak, beating Toronto 6-4 yesterday as they rallied from 4-0 behind. Today the Orioles host Minnesota at 1:05 p.m. at Ed Smith Stadium in a game that will be televised live on MASN. Among those scheduled to pitch are Jimmy Yacabonis, Pedro Araujo, Paul Fry and Branden Kline.
Yesterday, I wrote this story on Kline and how he bounced back from giving up a walk-off homer recently against the Pirates.