When the Orioles and Washington Nationals play the next two nights at Camden Yards, the player once considered the Nats catcher of the future will be in the Baltimore dugout.
Pedro Severino, who turns 26 on Saturday, was signed for $55,000 by the Nationals out of the Dominican Republic in December of 2010. For five straight years starting in 2013, he was ranked among Washington’s top 16 prospects. He reached a high of No. 9 after the 2016 season.
Always considered a solid defender with a strong arm, Severino’s offense never got going on the Nats’ watch. He was a career .246 hitter in the minors. And in 282 plate appearances from 2015-2018 he hit .187/.273/.287 with Washington. His OPS+ was 47, well under league average.
With the Nats adding catchers Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes over the winter, Severino became expendable. Out of options, the Orioles claimed him off waivers March 23 and he made the opening day roster and has not looked back.
This year as an Oriole he is batting .267/.332/.466 with an OPS of .798 and an above-average OPS+ of 111.
Severino believes the difference is mostly just fitting in. He seems more at home in a clubhouse in Baltimore filled with young players.
“You know, in D.C., I was just a little bit afraid,” he said. “I was up and down, up and down. There were a lot of things on my mind. We had a veteran pitching staff with guys like (Max) Scherzer, (Stephen) Strasburg, Gio (González) and some guys in the bullpen. Like it made me afraid to call a wrong pitch or drop a ball to cost us the game. The opportunity they gave to me, I wasn’t doing well offensively.”
But he was continuing to grow on defense and learning how to improve his pitch calling working with a staff of vets.
“I learned a lot there,” Severino said. “There were a lot of veteran guys on the team, especially pitchers. Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio González. Those veteran guys helped me a lot. I can say I know the game so much better now because of their help.”
The education he got from a three-time Cy Young Award winner was pretty special. If Severino was not playing and Scherzer was not pitching that day, the vet would school the kid in the dugout.
“Max Scherzer would sit with me on the bench and have me call the game,” Severino said. “Every pitch I called wrong, he would say, ‘No, I would want this pitch and this is why.’ It was such a big help and I got to catch him in the playoffs in 2016. That guy doesn’t want to shake you off too much on the mound, so I had to learn his game plan.”
But Severino became available to the Orioles late in spring and they jumped at the chance to add him and take a look at him this year.
“I just want to say thank you to these guys for giving me the opportunity,” he said. “I know they have some catching prospects with (Chance) Sisco and the other guy (Adley Rutschman) coming up. I don’t know how long I will be here. But the time I am and the opportunity they have given to me I am really enjoying it and doing my best for the team.”
Severino is under team control through 2023. The season he’s had has certainly shown teams all over baseball what he can do and he has value to the Orioles, no doubt.
He has begun to realize some of his potential in a younger clubhouse in Baltimore.
“Confidence. These players and this staff give me a lot of confidence. They say, ‘Don’t worry about it and don’t be scared for nothing. Every time past the white line, do your thing.’ The best thing in baseball is to be able to play free, like you are not afraid and with nothing on your mind. That has been one of the keys for me,” said Severino.
Farm notes: Single-A Delmarva lefty Ryan Wilson was named the South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week Monday afternoon. Then he went out and threw his latest gem that night.
He went a career-best eight innings, pitching Delmarva past Lakewood 4-2 at Perdue Stadium. Wilson recorded his sixth straight quality start for the Shorebirds (18-7, 66-28) as he earned the win. Wilson allowed just two runs on four hits while walking none and striking out nine. He retired the first 12 batters he faced, striking out six and improved to 5-3 with an ERA of 2.80 and 1.01 WHIP in 10 starts.
Over his past six starts, Wilson is 4-1 with a 0.92 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 39 innings. The 22-year old is a 33rd-round draft pick out of Pepperdine in 2017. Right-hander Reed Hayes collected his second save, allowing just a single in a scoreless ninth. Between Wilson and Hayes, Shorebirds pitching needed just 106 pitches to finish off the BlueClaws. Taking just 2 hours and 1 minute, the game was the shortest of the year for the Shorebirds by four mintues.
Double-A Bowie lefty Alex Wells also threw eight innings in a win last night. Wells allowed four hits and two runs as Bowie beat Harrisburg 4-2 to improve to 30-9 since June 1. Wells improves to 8-1 with a 1.95 ERA. He ranks first in the Eastern League in ERA and second in WHIP at 1.00.
Outfielder Austin Hays homered and drove in three runs in Triple-A Norfolk’s loss to Rochester. Over his past four games, Hays is 7-for-20 with four doubles, two homers and eight RBIs.
Short-season Single-A Aberdeen scored three runs in the last of the ninth to beat Williamsport, 4-3. The IronBirds improved to 17-13 with their 11th win in the last 13 games.