Tag: Baltimore Orioles

Adam Jones Injury: Updates on Orioles Star’s Hamstring and Return

Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones suffered a strained hamstring during Friday’s game against the New York Yankees when he pulled up at first base after a leadoff groundout in the first inning. However, he is expected to return to the lineup soon. 

Continue for updates.

Showalter Comments on Jones’ Recovery

Sunday, Aug. 28

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said that Jones is close to returning and would have played against the Yankees if it was a night game, according to MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli.

Showalter told reporters on Friday that Jones was in the “same spot as” Thursday, per Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun. Showalter added it’s not a situation where Jones could land on the disabled list.

Jones Out vs. Yankees

Sunday, Aug. 28

The Orioles announced Jones will not be in Sunday’s lineup against the Yankees: 


O’s Need Jones in Lineup Heading Toward Playoffs

Jones battled oblique discomfort at the start of the season, but he returned to the starting lineup on a full-time basis after missing four games and making two brief appearances as a defensive replacement. 

Entering Friday, Jones had posted a slash line of .275/.316/.456/ with 74 RBI and 24 home runs a year after regressing slightly to the tune of 25 home runs and 82 RBI when he was limited to 137 games.

To put those numbers in perspective, Jones clubbed 29 dingers and drove in 96 runs while batting .281 and missing just three games in 2014.

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Chris Tillman Injury: Updates on Orioles SP’s Shoulder and Return

Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Chris Tillman has been dealing with discomfort in his throwing shoulder that has forced him to the disabled list. It is unclear when he will be able to return.

Continue for updates.

Showalter Comments Tillman’s Recovery

Saturday, Aug. 27

MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli noted that Orioles manager Buck Showalter said, “Tillman probably won’t need a rehab start.”

Tillman Hits DL

Wednesday, Aug. 24

The Orioles announced they placed Tillman on the 15-day DL retroactive to Aug. 21 with right shoulder bursitis.

Tillman Comments on Injury

Tuesday, Aug. 23

Tillman discussed his current malady, per MASN:

Injury-Plagued Tillman Remains Orioles’ Best Starter

The same shoulder forced Tillman to miss a start Aug. 17. His last start was pushed back to Aug. 20 in order to give him eight days’ rest.

It didn’t do him any good, as BrooksBaseball.net (h/t the Baltimore Sun‘s Eduardo A. Encina) indicated his four-seam fastball averaged 91.52 miles per hourhis lowest mark of the seasonand he allowed six earned runs on six hits while walking five in just two innings.

However, Tillman revealed after the difficult start that there were no problems with the shoulder.

It was an uncharacteristic start from him, though, as Tillman has been the best starting arm in an Orioles rotation that has not been good this season.

At 15-5 with a 3.76 ERA, Tillman was the only Baltimore pitcher prior to his injury with more than 10 starts who has more than five wins with an ERA lower than 4.11.

If Tillman is to miss an extended period of time, it’s not going to bode well for the Orioles’ postseason chances.



Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.

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Zach Britton Can Be MLB’s First AL Cy Young Reliever Since 1992

Someone is going to win the 2016 American League Cy Young Award. That much we know.

After that, things get messy.

The Junior Circuit is flush with very good starting pitchers, solid starting pitchers and serviceable starting pitchers. But there isn’t that guythe one with consistently dominant results and eye-popping stats across the board.

Notice we said “starting pitcher.” Paging Zach Britton.

It has been more than two decades since an AL reliever won the Cy Young. The Oakland Athletics‘ Dennis Eckersley did it in 1992 and grabbed an MVP trophy as well.

Now, the Baltimore Orioles‘ Britton has a chance to break the streak.

He might not be the unequivocal front-runner, simply because it’s so unusual for bullpen arms to score any hardware. (We’re not counting consolation prizes such as the now-defunct Rolaids Relief Man Award.)

At the moment, however, Britton’s case is compelling. 

Entering play Tuesday, he owns an absurd 0.54 ERA. He’s struck out 59 in 50 innings while yielding 16 walks and 25 hits. He’s surrendered one home run all season, and opponents are hitting .145 against him.

He even has a shot at breaking Eric Gagne’s all-time single-season saves streak of 55. Britton is a perfect 37-for-37 in saves so far with 45 games remaining. When Gagne set the mark with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2003, he became the last reliever to win a Cy Young.

Even if Britton doesn’t catch Gagne, he’s enjoying a season for the ages. 

He’s doing it, as FanGraphs’ Corinne Landrey noted Aug. 11, with a diabolically straightforward approach:

Britton has built upon the extraordinarily successful formula he’s developed in recent years: destroying opponents with an entirely unfair mid-90s sinker. He’s using the pitch more than 90% of the time for the third consecutive season and the whiff and ground-ball rates illustrate why. According to the Baseball Prospectus PITCHf/x leaderboards, Britton’s sinker is generating a league-leading 40.3% whiff/swing rate — Jeurys Familia‘s sinker is a distant second at 28.3% whiff/swing — while the ground-ball rate on the pitch also leads the league at 80%.

“He just doesn’t give in,” manager Buck Showalter said of his ninth-inning weapon on Aug. 4, per Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun. “He knows who he is.”

OK, here’s where we unfurl the wet blanket. If you go by wins above replacement, Britton faces an uphill battle.

Britton’s 1.8 fWAR is tied for No. 34 on the AL leaderboard. It’s the nature of the stat. Starters log more innings. They have more chances to do things that help their teams win games. 

However, Britton isn’t even the top reliever by fWAR. The New York Yankees‘ Dellin Betances (2.7), Houston Astros‘ Chris Devenski (1.9) and Cleveland Indians‘ Andrew Miller (1.8) have him matched or beaten.

Of course, WAR isn’t the only measure of a player’s value. And it’s certainly not always predictive in awards races.

According to ESPN.com‘s MLB Cy Young Predictor—which is based on a formula created by Rob Neyer and famed statistician Bill James—Britton is the second-most likely candidate to claim the prize, behind the Toronto Blue Jays‘ J.A. Happ.

Here’s a look at the eight AL starters who made ESPN.com’s top 10 (in ranking order) and their stats so far:

Chris Sale and Corey Kluber boast the highest strikeout totals. Kluber, in particular, jumps out as the fWAR leader and a guy who’s pitching for a postseason contender. Aaron Sanchez, Happ and Cole Hamels sport sub-3.00 ERAs. And Steven Wright has the knuckleball novelty factor.

Again, though, there isn’t any starter who’s in the midst of a monster seasonno one who’s set to blow past 200 innings with a minuscule ERA. Fair or not, those are the benchmarks voters often use.

In a way, with so many starters bunched together in that strong-to-solid range, Britton could benefit from being a reliever. At least it distinguishes him from the pack. And the O’s are in the playoff mix.

This race will be won or lost on what happens in the season’s final month-plus. If Kluber, Sale or anyone else reels off a crazy streak of shutdown starts and mixes in a no-hitter, that could be the difference.

Likewise, all it will take is one or two rough outings to blow up Britton’s ERA and his award chances. So far, though, rough outings haven’t been in his lexicon.

Someone is going to win the AL Cy Young. For the first time since the dawn of the Bill Clinton administration, that someone could hail from the bullpen.


All statistics current as of Aug. 15 and courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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Former Uber-Prospect Dylan Bundy Showing He Can Shine in Pennant Race

There weren’t many who thought Dylan Bundy could substantially contribute to the Baltimore Orioles this season. And that list of people included the organization and Bundy himself.

There wasn’t a question as to whether Bundy would make the club out of spring training. He was out of options, meaning they couldn’t send him back down to the minors. So to keep him, the Orioles needed to put him on the MLB roster.

The plan was to stash the 2011 draft’s fourth overall pick in the bullpen. His debut as an MLB starter was supposed to be in 2017 after a rash of arm injuries kept him off the field for much of the past three seasons.

The organization first wanted Bundy to enjoy a full season of health before asking him to start for the team.

Over the past month, though, that timeline has been accelerated and Bundy, 23, has become a vital part of a desperate Orioles rotation.

“I didn’t want to be that guy that they just didn’t have anywhere to put me so they put me in the bullpen,” Bundy told Bleacher Report. “I really wanted to go into spring training competing for a spot.”

Bundy made his MLB debut in 2012 when he pitched 1.2 innings over two appearances. He hadn’t pitched another MLB game until this season when he began to throw again out the bullpen.

After undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2013, a year of rehab, followed almost immediately by calcification (a buildup of calcium in a concentrated area of the body) in his right pitching shoulder, the idea was for Bundy to enjoy a season free of injuries before being thrown into the rotation.

But his stellar performance as a reliever—he posted a 3.08 ERA in 22 relief appearances—combined with a glaring need for starting pitching—through Sunday’s games, Orioles starters ranked 26th in both ERA (4.89) and innings pitched (601.2)—forced Baltimore’s hand and Bundy‘s place in the rotation.

This season, Bundy has posted an overall ERA of 3.05 with a 1.246 WHIP.

Over his last two starts this season, Bundy has pitched 13 innings, struck out 16, walked two, allowed only five hits and two earned runs.

Bundy’s emergence comes at a critical time.

Baltimore’s bullpen has been outstanding this season, ranking second in MLB with a 3.08 ERA. But it has also been overworked. Through Sunday’s action, the Orioles had thrown the seventh-most innings of relief.

He could help preserve that bullpen as a starter by pitching deep into games. Keeping the relievers fresh will be important as Baltimore readies for the latter part of a three-team race for the AL East Crown.

Through Sunday, Baltimore sat a game ahead of Toronto in the AL East. Boston, in third place, was only three games out of first place.

It has been a division dominated by offense. The Red Sox, Blue Jays and Orioles sit first, sixth and eighth, respectively, in runs scored. Each team has a player in the AL’s top four in slugging percentage. The Red Sox’s David Ortiz ranks first, the Blue Jays’ Josh Donaldson second and the Orioles’ Manny Machado fourth.

But ultimately the division may be decided by pitching.

At the deadline, each team sought starting pitching. Boston traded for Drew Pomeranz, Toronto added Francisco Liriano and Baltimore acquired Wade Miley.

Through Bundy’s addition to the starting rotation, the team made a de facto deadline addition. He can better impact the team as a starter than he could as a reliever.

Though he has more to prove, his pedigree is better than that of any of the aforementioned starters. 

This month, Bundy has shown the talent that scouts salivated over when he pitched for Owasso High School in Oklahoma and swept all the major national player of the year awards in 2011.

“He’s developed some secondary pitches and can go out there on some nights, not carry a big fastball and be able to survive,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s one of those rare guys that’s six-foot tall and can create some angle. Everybody talks about tall pitchers, but there are some short pitchers that can create some angles. I wouldn’t say he’s short, he’s just six-foot and everybody is wanting to grab those 6’4″, 6’5″ guys. There’s some tall guys that don’t pitch tall and there’s some shorter guys that pitch tall. Dylan is one of those guys that pitches tall.”

Bundy made his first MLB start on July 17 against the Tampa Bay Rays. It took the majority of the month to stretch him out. Given his injury history, Baltimore has monitored his workload.

Though Bundy’s pitch count is being watched, his efficiency has arguably been his greatest asset to date.

In his third career start against Colorado on July 27, he used 89 pitches to get through 5.2 innings. During his fourth start against a talented Texas Rangers lineup, Bundy used 88 pitches over seven shutout innings.

His 92-pitch outing over six innings against the White Sox on Sunday was a career high.

“I try to look at: Did I give the team a chance to win? If I did, I’m happy with it,” Bundy said. “If I didn’t, I’m not happy with it. That’s about as simple as I can keep it. That’s your goal as a starter—just going out there every fifth day and giving your team a chance to win.”

“He’s really developed a mental toughness,” Showalter said. “He already had it a little bit. But something you’ve done your whole life and then all of a sudden it’s taken away from you, you’re wondering if you’re going to be able to do it again, it makes you savor and enjoy the good things that can come your way. I think it’s actually made him a little bit better pitcher.”

Maybe it is also what has made his transition to the starting rotation appear so seamless.

The 2016 season has quickly gone from a test case of Bundy’s health to one in which the team is depending on him in a key role.

So much so that his right arm could be a determinant in the AL East race.


Seth Gruen is a national baseball columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @SethGruen.

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A Locked-In Manny Machado Could Push Orioles over the Top in AL East

Eventually, something will tip the scales in the American League East—the most hotly contested and intriguing division in baseball.

Manny Machado might be that something.

On Sunday, Machado clubbed three home runs in his first three at-bats as the Baltimore Orioles rolled to a 10-2 win over the Chicago White Sox.

With the victory, the Orioles grabbed sole possession of first place in the AL East by one game over the Toronto Blue Jays and three games over the Boston Red Sox.

In the process, Machado reminded us all that he’s one of the streakiest, most gifted hitters in baseball—a superstar capable of carrying a franchise.

It’s not that Machado had been dormant before Sunday’s outburst. But after sprinting out of the chute in 2016 like an MVP front-runner, he leveled off a bit.

Machado hit just four home runs between June 25 and August 6 and saw his OPS fall 85 points during that span.

He nearly matched that power output Sunday with homers in the first, second and third innings. He tallied seven RBI. And he gained back 22 points of OPS for good measure.

Let’s gaze upon all three blasts, courtesy of Baltimore’s official Twitter feed:

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the swing of a man preparing for liftoff.

We’ve seen this Machado before. After an injury-shortened 2014 campaign, he played in all 162 games last season, cracked a career-high 35 home runs, posted 7.1 wins above replacement and finished fourth in AL MVP voting.

Just 23 entering this season, he appeared primed to attain next-level greatness.

He hasn’t disappointed. In fact, he’s beginning to resemble the peak on-field version of his mentor, Alex Rodriguezwho announced his retirement Sunday—as FanGraphs’ Jeff Sullivan outlined in June:

We can’t say that Manny Machado has become as good as prime Rodriguez. But we can say that Machado is looking about as good as prime Rodriguez….

Prime Alex Rodriguez was worth about seven and a half wins per 600 trips to the plate. Machado is on course to be worth about seven and a half wins per 600 trips to the plate.

Machado can further cement his status among the Junior Circuit elite with a scalding stretch run and push the Orioles into October for the second time in three years.

The Red Sox’s offense has been the toast of baseball for much of the season, and it paces MLB in runs scored and OPS. The Blue Jays are also among the top 10 in both categories and have a 3.75 team ERA compared to the Red Sox’s 4.26.

The Orioles’ starting pitching has wobbled to the tune of a 4.89 ERA. They added left-hander Wade Miley at the Aug. 1 trade deadline, but his eight-hit, four-run debut suggests he won’t be a savior.

The bullpen, which boasts the second-lowest ERA in the AL, is a strength.

Ultimately, though, Baltimore will live and die with its bats, which lead both leagues in home runs (139) and rank third in OPS (.775).

An array of contributors—Mark Trumbo, Adam Jones, Pedro Alvarez, Jonathan Schoop—have chipped in. But this is Machado’s team all the way. If he can go bananas from here into autumn, he could mask a lot of flaws.

Granted, he’s not the only mega-star in the East. Boston has the ageless David Ortiz and a cast of up-and-comers including Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts. The Jays have reigning AL MVP Josh Donaldson.

No one, however, combines youth, ability and past results quite like Machado. If you’re looking for a horse to hitch your wagon to, he’s the thoroughbred.

He’ll have plenty of chances to ding his division foes, as the Orioles play the Jays six more times and the Red Sox nine more times before season’s end.

“The game slows down for him sometimes, and he does things that not many people do,” Orioles skipper Buck Showalter said after Machado’s three-homer game, per MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli. “So, get a good seat for it, shut your mouth and try to enjoy it.”

Machado got a taste of the postseason in 2012, when the Orioles snagged a wild-card spot and advanced to the American League Division Series. The New York Yankees eliminated them in five games.

He missed the party in 2014, however, after a knee injury sidelined him in August. The Orioles won the division and swept the Detroit Tigers in the ALDS but fell in four games to the Kansas City Royals in the American League Championship Series.

Now, after a disappointing 2015, they have another shot. They just need that certain something to nudge them over the top.

Something like vintage Manny Machado.


All statistics courtesy of MLB.com and Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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Steve Pearce to Orioles: Latest Trade Details, Comments and Reaction

The Baltimore Orioles confirmed Monday they acquired Steve Pearce, sending minor league catcher Jonah Heim to the Tampa Bay Rays to complete the deal. 

Pearce, who had previously spent four years as a member of the Orioles, is batting .309 with 10 home runs and 29 RBI in 60 games.

The 33-year-old broke out in a big way in 2014. Between 2007 and 2013, he had amassed 0.5 WAR on FanGraphs. In 2014, Pearce posted the second-highest WAR (4.9) among qualified Orioles position players.

Given his age, Pearce will probably never be that good again, but he’s a solid hitter who offers a lot of defensive value. Below is a positional breakdown of where he’s played over his MLB career, per Baseball-Reference.com:

“[Pearce] is a proven versatile veteran player who gives our club more punch and stronger defense wherever he is in the lineup,” said Orioles general manager Dan Duquette, per Roch Kubatko of MASN.

BaltimoreBaseball.com’s Dan Connolly noted the respect is mutual between the Orioles and Pearce:

Pearce’s arrival could mean the departure of Nolan Reimold, who has largely been a reserve outfielder for Baltimore. The team has little reason to keep both players, and swapping Reimold with Pearce would be a net upgrade for the Orioles.

While it’s easy to see why Duquette pulled the trigger on the deal, some might question whether the Orioles gave up too much for an aging player who’s set to be a free agent in the offseason.

Heim is still a ways away from the majors. He has played 88 games for Baltimore’s High-A affiliate, batting .216 with seven homers and 30 RBI. The 21-year-old is a far better defender than he is a hitter, though. MLB.com lists him as the 13th-best prospect in the Orioles organization.

On the 20-80 grading scale, Heim received 45 for hitting and 40 for power but 60 for his arm and 50 for fielding. While Heim is unlikely to become an All-Star catcher, some fans might contend the Orioles should have gotten a little more than just Pearce in the trade.

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Wade Miley to Orioles: Latest Trade Details, Comments and Reaction

The Baltimore Orioles are in the thick of a tight American League East race, and they reportedly added pitcher Wade Miley on Sunday to bolster their starting rotation for the stretch run.  

The Orioles announced the deal, confirming they sent left-handed pitcher Ariel Miranda to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Miley. Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball first reported the deal.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports provided the financial details for Miley’s contract as he joins Baltimore:

Sunday’s trade follows Heyman’s previous report that “Baltimore has been seeking a starter, especially a left-handed one, for weeks.” Miley gives the Orioles that coveted southpaw, and Heyman said “there aren’t a plethora of lefties on the market.”

Kenny Ducey of Sports Illustrated said “the back-end of the rotation has been a particularly grand problem for the Orioles” and pointed out that right-handers Yovani Gallardo (5.70 ERA) and Tyler Wilson (4.98 ERA) have been issues.

Baltimore ranks 28th in all of baseball in rotation ERA, per ESPN.com. Despite the pitching concerns, the Orioles are still in first place in the American League East and a half game ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays and 1.5 games ahead of the Boston Red Sox

Improving that rotation will be critical for the Orioles if they plan on reaching the postseason for just the third time since the 1997 season, and the acquisition of Miley is a step in that direction.

If Miley’s last start is any indication, the Orioles struck at the right time. He pitched seven innings and allowed one run on one hit Saturday against the Chicago Cubs and was in complete command against a first-place team in the hostile environment of Wrigley Field.

While Miley was impressive on Saturday, he sports a pedestrian 4.98 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 82 strikeouts in 19 starts on the season. However, he appeared to turn the corner Saturday and fills a glaring need for a potentially effective southpaw in Baltimore.

As for the Mariners, they are still within striking distance of third place in the American League West. They are looking up at the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros and are still eight games back of first place.

While trading Miley appears to be a seller move, Miranda is a fellow left-handed pitcher. He has only pitched two innings this year and allowed three earned runs, but he demonstrated strikeout stuff with four whiffs in those frames.

When the Orioles called him up earlier in the season, he hadn’t allowed a run in his previous 19 innings with Triple-A Norfolk, per the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). He showed potential in the minors and may eventually have the opportunity to fulfill it at the major league level.

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Tillman Becomes 5th Orioles Pitcher to Start Season with 13-2 Record

Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Chris Tillman accomplished a rare feat over the weekend, becoming just the fifth hurler in franchise history to win 13 of his first 15 decisions to begin a season, per Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN Stats & Info).

Tillman needed everything he had to improve to 13-2 in Saturday’s 2-1 road win over the Tampa Bay Rays, as Tampa lefty Matt Moore held the powerful Orioles lineup to just two runs on five hits and a walk over 7.1 innings at pitcher-friendly Tropicana Field despite striking out only one of the 27 batters he faced.

Tillman was just a bit better, striking out three batters over seven innings of one-run ball, with the Rays scraping out four hits and three free passes along the way.

The standout Baltimore bullpen held things down from there, as setup man Brad Brach (0.88 ERA, 17 holds) and closer Zach Britton (0.68 ERA, 29 saves) showcased their typical dominant form by tossing a perfect inning apiece.

The 28-year-old Tillman has more than bounced back from an ugly 2015 campaign, dropping his ERA from 4.99 to 3.29 and his WHIP from 1.39 to 1.21. Although he’s been fortunate to strand 81.1 percent of baserunners while also holding opponents to a .263 batting average on balls in play (BABIP), Tillman deserves major credit for increasing his strikeout rate from last year’s 16.2 percent to this season’s 20.6 percent.

And while his record may come under scrutiny due to his team’s prolific offense, the Orioles have actually averaged 4.6 runs in Tillman’s 20 outings, compared to 5.1 in the team’s other 70 games. Granted, nine of the 13 wins came in games decided by three or fewer runs, which speaks volumes to Baltimore’s perennially strong relief corps.

Regardless, Tillman is starting to build a dark-horse Cy Young Award case for the first-place O’s, ranking second in the American League in wins (13), ninth in innings (120.1) and 17th in strikeouts (101) as well as ninth among qualified starters in ERA (3.29) and 15th in WHIP (1.21).

Those numbers wouldn’t stand a chance most seasons, but a strong second half could still put him right in the mix, as only four qualified AL starters enter Monday with sub-3.00 ERAs.

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Preston Palmeiro: Prospect Profile for Baltimore Orioles’ 7th-Round Pick

Player: Preston Palmeiro

Position: 1B

DOB: Jan. 22, 1995 (21 years old)

Height/Weight: 6’1″, 190 lbs

Bats/Throws: L/R

School: NC State

Previously Drafted: Not Drafted



Scouts saw plenty of Preston Palmeiro during his freshman season at NC State in 2014, as they turned out in droves to watch a pair of eventual first-round picks in left-hander Carlos Rodon and shortstop Trea Turner.

The son of MLB standout Rafael Palmeiro has steadily improved since going undrafted out of high school, and this year scouts are making the trip to Raleigh specifically to watch him.

A part-time player as a freshman, he took over as the Wolfpack’s starting first baseman as a sophomore and hit .305/.381/.456 with 13 doubles, seven home runs and 49 RBI.

He followed up that strong spring by playing alongside another MLB legacy, Cavan Biggio, on the right side of the Harwich Mariners infield in the Cape Cod League.

Now he’s trying to get out from under his famous father’s shadow, as he explained to Stan Grossfeld of the Boston Globe:

I’ve been blessed to be around baseball my whole life and my dad accomplished and taught me so much. The only curse is there’s always expectations. Everyone expects you to be the best. Every game I’ve played it’s always Rafael Palmeiro’s son, its never just Preston Palmeiro.

His junior season has been his best yet, as he’s hitting .337/.412/.539 with 20 doubles, nine home runs and a team-high 55 RBI and earned Second Team All-ACC honors for his work.

The question now is just how high his ceiling is offensively, as he’ll need to produce to have a shot at sticking at a premium offensive position.


Pick Analysis

Palmeiro has a smooth, left-handed stroke that’s drawn plenty of comparisons to the swing that netted his father 3,020 career hits.

Perfect Game offered up the the following scouting report:

Though he doesn’t sport the typical build often associated with the first base position, and he could make a move to the outfield due to his athleticism, he certainly swings the bat and it’s one that would play anywhere on the field.

On top of the professional approach at the plate Palmeiro has shown the ability to work all fields with comfort, hitting for both average and strength. The hands are both extremely quick and loose in his swing as he generates plenty of bat speed through the zone with an exceptional feel for the barrel head and natural leverage at the point of contact.

He’s shown the ability to adjust to off-speed mid-swing, which further reassures his approach and also speaks to his hand-eye coordination.

As a good contact hitter and solid overall athlete, the determining factor in whether Palmeiro can develop into an MLB regular at first base will be the development of his power game.


MLB Player Comparison: Mark Sweeney

This is admittedly not the most exciting comparison for Palmeiro, but it’s one that would be perfectly acceptable at this stage in the draft.

Mark Sweeney carved out a solid 14-year career as a part-time player and left-handed bench bat, displaying enough athleticism to play both corner outfield spots as well as first base.

Palmeiro is a plus defender at first but could be asked to add some versatility as a pro, since he doesn’t possess the requisite power most teams look for in an everyday first baseman.

Sweeney was similar in stature at 6’1″ and 195 pounds and posted a solid .347 on-base percentage for his career while being used primarily off the bench.

The two also share big league bloodlines, as Sweeney was the older brother of Kansas City Royals standout Mike Sweeney.

With a professional approach and good plate discipline, there should be a role for Palmeiro at the highest level. He just might have to settle for being a role player as opposed to a star like his father.


Projection: Potential starting first baseman, quality left-handed bench bat


Major League ETA: 2020


Chances of Signing: 95 percent

The market for college first basemen is never particularly high, but Palmeiro has been among the best in the nation this year and has seen his stock spike as a result. After going undrafted out of high school, he’ll jump at the chance to finally start his pro career.


College statistics courtesy of The Baseball Cube, unless otherwise noted, and accurate through Wednesday, June 8.

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Reborn Slugger Mark Trumbo Is Front and Center in Orioles’ Winning Formula

The AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles have a formula for winning games, and they’re sticking to it.

This is thanks in no small part to Mark Trumbo, who just won’t stop dropping Trumbombs.

Trumbo entered Monday’s contest against the Kansas City Royals with 18 home runs, tied with Todd Frazier for the MLB lead. The blast that he cranked leading off the bottom of the seventh inning leapfrogged him ahead of Frazier and, oh yeah, tied a game the Orioles went on to win 4-1.

All rise for loud noises and the sight of a ball landing many feet from home plate:

That dinger was one of Trumbo‘s two hits, upping his average to .295 and his OPS to .953. It also put him just three shy of matching the 22 homers he hit in 142 games with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Seattle Mariners last year. And if he stays on this pace, ESPN.com calculates he’ll finish with 55 homers. That would top his previous career best by 21.

In good, old-fashioned plain English: The 30-year-old slugger seems to have turned a corner.

“A lot of guys 28 to 32 start figuring out some things,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter told Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times recently. “You have to be careful about writing them off and saying, ‘This is who they are going to be.’ Guys like Mark, they keep learning, they keeping taking in new things.”

At first, it might not seem like Trumbo has actually learned anything. With a strikeout rate of 26.8 percent that’s par for the course, he’s still struggling to subdue his biggest flaw. Likewise, he’s still not drawing many walks. To wit, his power still looks like his only redeeming quality on offense. 

But when a hitter is maximizing power the way Trumbo is maximizing his, that’s OK.

It may not look like it based on his walk and strikeout rates, but one thing Trumbo is doing in 2016 is making better choices with his swings. Entering Monday, he was chasing pitches outside the zone at a career-low 32.4 percent clip. Likewise, his swing rate on pitches inside the zone was 71.8 percent, just a hair down from last year’s career high of 72.2.

When Trumbo has made contact, it’s been the kind of contact he wants: in the air and loud. He entered Monday with a ground ball-to-fly ball ratio of 0.86, a career low by plenty. And according to Statcast data at Baseball Savant, the top of the exit velocity leaderboard looked like this:

Last month, Kevin Ruprecht of SB Nation offered a comprehensive breakdown of exactly what Trumbo is doing differently in 2016. Arguably most important is how he’s being more selective with low pitches, perhaps due to his latest experimentation with his timing mechanism.

If that’s the case, be warned this isn’t guaranteed to last forever. Trumbo has gotten results out of a timing adjustment before, only to have those results vanish over the long haul. And in general, he’s been a fast starter and a slow finisher throughout his career.

If Trumbo can keep this up, however, he’ll be doing his part to maintain the Orioles’ preferred offensive weapon. 

The point that the Orioles like hitting home runs won’t be breaking news to anyone who’s noticed them club over 200 homers in each of the last four seasons. Even still, it’s newsworthy that they’re going especially silly with dingers in 2016. With 83 through 56 games, they’re on pace for about 240. In franchise history, only the 1996 Orioles have done better than that.

Home runs aren’t the only recent strength the Orioles are taking to an extreme in 2016. They had excellent bullpens in 2012, 2014 and 2015, but even “excellent” doesn’t do their current bullpen justice. Its 2.73 ERA is the best the Orioles have enjoyed in the last five seasons. This year, it ranks second in MLB behind only the Royals.

To boot, Baltimore’s two big strengths have been playing in concert with one another. After Matt Wieters and Manny Machado also went deep Monday, the Orioles now have an MLB-high 31 home runs in innings seven through nine. Those have set opponents up, and the bullpen has knocked ’em down.

For now, this dynamic is allowing the Orioles to hide their lousy starting pitching. In the long run, though, even the man in charge seems hesitant to trust its sustainability.

“It’s not easy,” Showalter said of scoring off opposing bullpens, via Brittany Ghiroli and Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com. “Over the course of the season, if you’re not getting runs, off of those guys you are not going to like the results. So, we’ve been fortunate. It’s not something you like to depend on, getting runs off those guys.”

However, if guys like Wieters, Adam Jones and Pedro Alvarez add even more power to the pile, the Orioles may not need to rely as much on home runs of the heroic variety. That, plus continued domination from their bullpen, would allow the Orioles to keep hiding their lackluster starting pitching.

It was obvious at the outset of 2016 that the Orioles were designed on paper to win games with lots of dingers and an outstanding bullpen. The worry was how well their design would actually come together on the field, as there were questions abound.

With Trumbo obliterating baseballs better than ever, one of those questions has gotten a resounding answer. Others have gotten satisfying answers. And together, it all adds up to a team that doesn’t seem interested in straying far from the top of the AL East.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.

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