Could pitcher who began the season at Aberdeen end with Baltimore?

Before the 2021 season, he had never pitched even as high as high Single-A. But it is possible that right-handed reliever Félix Bautista could end this season in the Orioles bullpen.

Bautista, 26, from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, has been in the O’s farm system since they signed him in August 2016. The Miami Marlins originally signed him out of the Dominican in November 2012, but released him in January 2015.

Bautista throws a fastball that has touched 100 mph multiple times this year, has an ERA of 0.84 over three levels and has allowed just nine hits in 31 1/3 innings. So, yeah, really strong stats with a premium fastball.

After going 0-2 with a 1.20 ERA in 11 games for high Single-A Aberdeen, the Orioles moved him to Double-A Bowie June 25 and then just this week he moved to Triple-A Norfolk. With Bowie he went 0-1 with an ERA of 0.68. He has an ERA of 0.00 in three innings with Norfolk.

Bautista must be protected from selection in the Rule 5 draft this December and the Orioles do that by adding him to the 40-man roster. Since he is now 26, the Orioles may want to take a look at what they have here with Bautista to better gauge whether to protect him or not. He may be flying under the radar to a degree, but pro scouts are clearly noticing this guy, he’s not under the radar to the clubs, and if the O’s don’t give him a look and/or don’t protect him, he could be the next Zach Pop headed out the door.

Baseballs glove.jpgWhen you look at the best bullpens in the major leagues, they are filled with guys that throw 97 to 100 mph - just as Bautista does now. He has what at times has been called electric stuff, a fastball/slider combo similar to what we see from Tanner Scott from the left side. Just like Scott, though, he has command issues.

And that is the catch - Bautista is walking too many. In this 31 1/3 innings to date this year at three levels, he has walked 23 but has fanned 56. So that is a 6.6 walk rate with a strikeout rate of 16.1. He allows just 2.6 hits for every nine innings - yes, just 2.6. Bautista’s strikeout rate was as strong at Double-A as it was at high Single-A.

In three innings in two games with the Tides, he has walked two, hit one and fanned four. What a combo of low hit totals and high strikeout totals for this guy.

To say he intrigues some in the organization would probably be an understatement. I will guess he does find his way to Baltimore before the year is out.

It would be some awesome story if a player that the Orioles added that another team let go years ago could advance this year from High-A ball to the major leagues. He’s got a big right arm and we could see it in the big leagues this year. Even if they called him up and he struggled or walked too many, the velocity will still be there and the Orioles will have an optionable reliever to work with and try to continue to develop at the higher levels and/or the big leagues moving forward.

About that game yesterday: The Orioles could have used Bautista yesterday when they allowed a season-high in runs and lost 16-2 at Boston. The Red Sox hit five homers and went 7-for-12 with runners in scoring position. They led 14-2 by the fifth inning.

It was the most runs allowed and biggest margin of defeat for the Orioles since they lost to Houston 23-2 on Aug. 10, 2019.

They have now lost 10 in a row and been outscored 98-32 during this streak. They’ve allowed nine runs or more seven times in the losing streak.

Captain Obvious called this a rough stretch and a bit of a crisis for the pitchers.

This is the third season in club history with two losing streaks of 10 or more games. They had streaks of 14 and 10 games in 1954 and 12 and 10 games in 2002. This year, they had a 14-game losing streak from May 18-31 and now are at 10 in a row.

It was sure more fun watching the Orioles sweep the opening series at Fenway Park in April by a combined three-game score of 18-5 than it has been watching them lose two in a row there this weekend by a 24-3 score.

They could use something good happening later today at Fenway Park.

TV today: During “O’s Xtra” today at 12:30 p.m. on MASN, I will talk more about Bautista and some other topics on the Birdland farm.

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