The Orioles are still adding young pitchers. They’ve now acquired six in the last week. It started with getting lefty Easton Lucas from Miami for Jonathan Villar. It continued when they got four right-handers from the Los Angeles Angels for Dylan Bundy. In that deal they added Isaac Mattson, Kyle Bradish, Kyle Brnovich and Zach Peek.
On Monday at the Winter Meetings they claimed right-hander Marcos Diplán on waivers from the Detroit Tigers. Diplan never pitched in a game for Detroit, either in the majors or minors. They claimed him on waivers on Sept. 16 after he was designated for assignment two days earlier by Minnesota. The Twins got him in a trade from Milwaukee for cash considerations on July 31.
Diplán is an international signing. Texas landed him as an amateur from Santiago, Dominican Republic, on July 2, 2013 and signed him to a $1.3 million dollar bonus. He was considered one of the top arms in that international class and had been rated the No. 6 prospect by Baseball America at that time.
Baseball America has ranked Diplán in a team’s top 30 prospects list five times. He was No. 22 for Texas at the end of the 2014 season. A year later he was Milwaukee’s No. 18 and after the 2016 season he was the Brewers’ No. 10. At the end of 2017 he was No. 22 for Milwaukee and was No. 20 a year later.
So the Orioles are getting a pitcher with a solid arm but with control issues. He was put on Milwaukee’s 40-man roster in November 2017. While he hasn’t pitched in the majors yet, he has just one option remaining. But that will give the O’s a chance to look at him this year and also send him back to the minors.
Last season at Double-A for both the Brewers and Twins he went a combined 3-5 with a 4.85 ERA. Over 68 2/3 innings he allowed 57 hits with 44 walks and 73 strikeouts. He had a 1.47 WHIP and has allowed five walks or more per every nine innings in every season 2017 through 2019.
“He’s a very interesting arm,” Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias told reporters in San Diego. “He’s a former top prospect who’s still very young. He’s got an elite fastball, a pretty good slider, especially to right-handed hitters, and his changeup is intriguing. I mean, really on the come.
“He has walked a few too many guys in his career and he still hasn’t gotten out of Double-A, but given the upside and the age and the prospect pedigree, just a little more interesting than your usual guy on waivers. Especially for a team in our situation. I think that’s why you saw Detroit grab him. They were probably thinking the same thing.”
Diplán has a low-to-mid-90s fastball. He was a starter most of his career until pitching mostly in the bullpen in 2019. For his career, he is 31-29 with a 3.88 ERA and has averaged 4.93 walks and 9.14 strikeouts per nine innings. He began his pro career in 2014 and went 7-2 with a 1.54 ERA for Texas, helping their Dominican Summer League team that summer win a league championship.
Sunday Night Baseball: ESPN announced yesterday about half of its schedule of “Sunday Night Baseball” games for 2020. The network has scheduled 14 Sunday prime-time games through July 19. In 12 of those games, a team from one of the three top markets of New York, Los Angeles or Chicago will play. The Yankees will be on five times, while Boston and the Chicago Cubs have four appearances each.
Here is something strange. The World Series champion Washington Nationals are listed not once. They will not be on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” at least through July 19.
We know the Orioles will appear once. On Aug. 23 they play Boston in the 2020 MLB Little League Classic from Williamsport, Pa., home of the Little League World Series. The fourth annual event will feature this American League East matchup that night at 7 p.m.
“There are guys with obvious inside tracks,” Elias said. “Cobb is healthy, so that’s good. Means, certainly. Even somebody like Wojciechowski that wouldn’t necessarily be going into spring training as a frontrunner for a rotation spot, he’s kind of earned a right of first refusal with how he pitched for us. Then, a lot of the guys who are in Triple-A, some of whom were outrighted off the roster, are candidates.
“In addition to that group, we’re still going to be looking and hoping for three or four more external additions, either minor league free agents who are not on the roster in spring training or, possibly, guys that we commit major league contracts to.”
The Orioles are clearing the decks somewhat for prospects to get some starts at some point in 2020. Keegan Akin spent all of last season with Triple-A Norfolk and his time is getting close. So, too, for Dean Kremer and Bruce Zimmermann, who also reached Triple-A last season. Behind them are the group of pitchers at Double-A Bowie last year that included Zac Lowther, Alex Wells, Michael Baumann and Cody Sedlock.
It’s probably not a stretch to say that a lot of the success or failure of the Orioles’ rebuilding efforts over the next few seasons will be tied to those young starting pitching prospects.