A slow start for the starters, plus MLB Network on the Orioles

With the understanding that it is way too soon to pass judgments and/or form opinions - and manager Brandon Hyde has told us he’s not putting much weight on a pitcher’s first outing - Orioles starters are not exactly rolling through opponents just yet.

During the club’s first six games and a 2-3-1 record so far in spring, O’s starting pitchers have been scored on in five of the six games. Their starters also were scored on in the first inning in five of the six games. The rotation ERA is 8.71, with the six starters combining to yield 18 hits and 11 runs (10 earned) over 10 1/3 innings.

The starters starts so far:

* Thomas Eshelman against Pittsburgh - one inning, two hits, two runs (one earned).
* Jorge López against Philadelphia - two innings, five hits, two runs.
* John Means versus the Yankees - 1 2/3 innings, four hits, one run.
* Wade LeBlanc versus Atlanta - two innings, one hit, no runs.
* Dean Kremer against Boston - 1 2/3 innings, three hits and three runs.
* Matt Harvey against Toronto - two innings, four hits, three runs.

leblanc-pitch-orange-home.jpg.jpgSo LeBlanc is a standout here in the first handful of games. Should there be any concern right now? No, not this early, but some guys will need to avoid stacking up shaky starts to make this team.

The O’s team ERA of 6.17 ranks 13th in the American League, with Minnesota last at 8.34. Their .213 team batting average ranks 14th, with the Yankees last at .201. The team OPS is .724, 12th in the AL with New York last again at .670.

Some national media on the O’s: When MLB Network featured the Orioles in its “30 Clubs in 30 Days” show on Wednesday night, time was spent talking about the Baltimore farm system and its top prospects. The broadcasters said the young talent is the hope for the team’s future, but you already knew that.

MLB Network analyst Jim Callis, someone quoted often in this space, was raving about catcher Adley Rutschman, ranked as the No. 2 prospect in baseball by MLBPipeline.com.

“He’s got the best tools of any catcher I’ve seen in 30 years covering prospects,” Callis said. “He’s not as athletic as Joe Mauer was, but he’s got a lot more power. He’s a switch-hitter with a proven track record. He hits for a lot of average, he hits with a lot of power. He really controls the strike zone and he’s got Gold Glove ability behind the plate. So, I mean, we are talking about a special, special player.

“The Orioles had the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s draft and they used that on another college bat, drafting Heston Kjerstad. All this guy did from Day One at Arkansas is hit for power in the best conference in college baseball. He’s got tons of raw pop and has the hitting ability to get to it. He’s got athleticism for a 6-foot-3, 220-pounder, that is going to allow him to be an average to a solid right fielder. He’s gonna bat in the middle of that Orioles lineup for years to come with Rutschman.”

Rutschman, 23, was the first player taken in the 2019 draft. He became the first catcher to go No. 1 overall since the Twins drafted Mauer in 2001. During Wednesday’s show, he was asked if he feels he is close to the major leagues?

“I mean, that’s a tough question. It’s tough to know until you’ve been someplace and played at that level to know if you are ready or not,” said Rutschman, who is probably the most notable non-roster player in camp, even if he might not play a single game in the majors this season. “I’d like to think I could compete at any level at any given time - just because that is the confidence you have to have going into things. So I guess we’ll just wait and see. I’m just trying to do all I can right now to just get better and learn.”

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