LOD’s 3 Players to Watch: Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles have a good young group of arms and having a solid pitching staff will be key to keeping up with the powerhouses in the AL East as well as in the entire league.
Along with pitching, the Orioles will need the offense to keep up with the big dawgs of the league. So far in the opening weekend series against the Boston Red Sox, they put up 23 runs, but gave up 27, which showed early that the pitching staff needs time to get going. But then you see the signs of what can be a great pitching staff as they blanked the Texas Rangers 2-0 on Monday allowing just one hit. A great effort by three pitchers bridging the gap to the closer.
And when it comes to closers, everyone loves the big power guys that can blow the ball by any bat and seal the victory. The key is also being big in stature and intimidating on the mound and the Orioles have one big closer in Felix Bautista. Standing at 6’8″ and 285 pounds, Bautista is a huge presence on the mound that can bring the fastball to 101 MPH and then drop a slider at 87 MPH.
On April 10, 2022, the Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic native made his MLB debut out of the pen, and for the most part kept runners from scoring. In the first half of the season, he was put into the role as a closer and was 3 for 4 in save opportunities. Then in the second half, the Orioles gave him more opportunities and he finished the season 12 for 13 in that role.
After a solid spring training, he has started the season saving two games, with one blown save. The season is young and Bautista has the tools to be a dominating pitcher on the mound. Keep an eye on year two to see if he can add on to the success of year one.
The Orioles have some young ball players that are very quickly becoming the next stars of the game, as is Adley Rutschman. The Portland, Oregon native and #1 overall pick in the 2019 June draft, tore it up in the minors in just two seasons and part of 2022, before being promoted to the MLB on May 21, 2022.
In his first game, he tripled to collect his first MLB hit. He finished his first season the in the majors batting .254, with 35 doubles, a triple, 13 home runs, 42 RBIs and 65 walks.
Entering his sophomore season, he had a very successful spring batting .310, with four home runs and nine RBIs through 17 games. His hot bat carried over into the regular season as he went 5 for 5 on Opening Day, with a home run and four RBIs. He is just 2 for 9 in his last three games, but the season is early and the catching star is shaping up to have an even better year in his young career.
Gunnar Henderson is another young stud on the Orioles roster. The Montgomery, AL native made his MLB debut on August 31, 2022, after he hit .276, with 57 doubles, 13 triples, 37 home runs, drove in 161 RBIs and walked 146 times through 246 games in the minors.
On August 31, 2022, he tore the cover off the ball in his second at bat in his MLB debut, launching his first hit/home run over the right center field fence. He stayed hot through September, batting .268, with seven doubles, a triple, three home run, drove in 18 and had the same patience at the plate that he showed in the minors, as he walked 16 times.
In his first full spring training, he struggled at the plate batting just .216, and it has carried over into the regular season as he is just 2 for 12 (.167) through four games.
It is almost expected that the 21 year old will go through some growing pains, as its part of the process, but expect to see him put up some big numbers before the season is up.