He has been among the most talented and successful pitching prospects in the Orioles organization. To get to there, right-hander Mike Baumann has used a pretty basic and simplistic approach to getting better.
That is one to focus on what he can do to get better every single day and not look too far down the road.
He’s kept that approach since the day the Orioles drafted him in round three of 2017 out of Jacksonville University. Never spending time thinking about pitching in A-ball when he was in short-season ball or Double-A once he pitched at Single-A.
Take care of today and don’t worry about tomorrow.
You can’t argue with the results from that approach. Baumann is 24-13 with a 2.82 career ERA and a WHIP of 1.12 in 297 minor league innings, the last of which came late in the 2019 season at Double-A Bowie.
“I like having that attitude because I don’t like to get too far ahead of myself,” Baumann said during a Zoom interview on Tuesday. “You know, I think it gets me in the right mindset of just being in the moment. I’ve got to take care of what I’ve got to take care of on a daily basis. Whether that’s being in a game or something I have to work on in between starts. You know, I think that just helps me out mentally and gets me prepared physically for when I have to go out there and compete and perform. And try to win for my guys.”
Baumann was pitching at the O’s alternate camp last summer when he was shut down in late August with a right flexor strain. He rehabbed from that and resumed throwing in early December.
“The ball feels good,” he said of his bullpen sessions in camp. “I’m excited with where I’m at and I’m feeling good and confident moving forward. You know, I’m excited to start really ramping things up and bringing it out there once I get in a game.
“I just want to prove that I belong here. I know that I can be here and go out there and compete. But I also want to focus on what I need to work on to get ready for the season and to go out there and just compete.”
Baumann, ranked as the Orioles’ No. 8 prospect by Baseball America and No. 9 by MLBPipeline.com, went 7-6 with a 2.98 ERA in 2019 between Single-A Frederick and Bowie. He was dominant at times after being promoted to the Baysox, going 6-2 with a 2.31 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 13 games, including a nine-inning no-hitter versus Harrisburg.
When the 2019 season ended, Baumann and Grayson Rodriguez shared the Jim Palmer Award as the O’s co-Pitchers of the Year on the farm.
MLBPipeline.com puts 60 grades on Baumann’s fastball, which can touch the high 90s, and his slider. But he said work on his curveball has paid off and is beginning to make that an important third pitch.
“That was kind of the emphasis at Bowie (last summer), was just kind of honing in on those secondary pitches and working on consistency. Just attacking through the zone with all my pitches,” he said.
Baumann is part of the next wave of O’s young pitchers to make their way to Baltimore. He has pitched in rotations with Keegan Akin and Dean Kremer, who have made their major league debuts. When he was added to the 40-man roster last November, other young pitchers joined him on the roster, like Zac Lowther, Alexander Wells and Isaac Mattson.
“It’s been awesome. Coming up with Zac and Dean and these guys you know, we’ve been in the same rotation,” Baumann said. “We’ve had great times together. So it’s kind of fun to see each other at this point and share this kind of experience with each other. It’s pretty awesome.”
Now Baumann looks forward to pitching in a game. He did that in sim games last summer, but not in a minor league game since he pitched for Bowie at Reading on Aug. 29, 2019 and gave up two runs over 5 2/3 innings.
“I haven’t had a game (in quite a while). You do what you can at the alternate site, you try to simulate the games,” he said. “But, yeah, it will be fun to get back out there and get that adrenaline back and pick the tempo up of game-like action. I think that’s important. I’m looking forward to getting back out there on the mound with fans.
“I just want to take it one day at a time. Make sure I’m right going into the season. You know, I’m feeling strong and feeling powerful. So taking it one day at a time. Get to face hitters here, so I’m excited and looking forward to this.”
Known mostly as Michael before this season, Baumann told the O’s staff that either Mike or Michael is fine, but go with Mike if you pick one. So the club will refer to him as Mike moving forward and we’ll do the same.
Alternate sites return: Major League Baseball is going to delay the start of the Triple-A season from April 6 for about a month. This will lead to clubs once again using an alternate site for players that could get the call to the big leagues. In this story, ESPN explained more about the reasons for this. The Orioles, I would certainly expect, will likely return to Bowie to hold their camp. This time, rather than have 60-man player pools, teams are expect to have a roster of about 24 or 25 players for that site.
International player news: A new signing period for international amateur talent is expected to begin on Jan. 15, 2022. That is a long way away, but Baseball America yesterday published a list of the top 20 players for that class ranked by expected signing bonus. That article is here (subscription likely required).
Baseball America has linked the Orioles to the No. 17 prospect, Dominican-born outfielder Braylin Tavera, a speedy center fielder. He is called the Orioles’ “top expected signing” in the next class with a bonus projected to be between $1.5 and $2 million.
In January, the O’s announced this signing class of 17 international amateurs, including the club’s first two international amateurs signed for seven figures. The club came to contract agreements with catcher Samuel Basallo from the Dominican Republic for a $1.3 million bonus and with Venezuelan shortstop Maikol Hernández for $1.2 million. If the projected bonus range for Tavera is accurate, he will get the largest international bonus ever from the Orioles.
UPDATE: MLB has decided to delay the start of the 2021 Triple-A season. The Tides season will now tentatively begin on Tuesday, May 4 at Jacksonville. Games that were scheduled in April will not be rescheduled. pic.twitter.com/C7EqA24Qdc-- Norfolk Tides (@NorfolkTides) March 3, 2021