Earlier today in part one of our Baltimore Orioles Spring Training we touched on the returning relievers in the Orioles bullpen and now in part two we will take a look at the newcomers to the pen.
The Orioles Spring Training roster includes 31 total pitchers when you include Troy Patton, who will serve a 25-game suspension to begin the season due to testing positive for Adderall, and there are several new guys that will look to carve their niche in the Birds' bullpen.
Let's first begin with arguably the Orioles best offseason acquisition, and with no disrespect to Ryan Webb, it is pretty sad when a reliever that is not a closer is the team's best free agent signing. Do not get us wrong, Webb is a great addition to this Orioles bullpen and will be a nice weapon for Manager Buck Showalter as Webb is equally effective against right handers and left handers. Webb has a 3.29 career ERA and in 2013 he held both right handers and left handers to a .244 batting average.
Another newcomer to the pen who is almost assured a spot is right hander Brad Brach who has a career 3.70 ERA in 109 games. Brach will be more of a middle reliever for the Orioles in 2014 and the key thing to watch with him will be whether or not he can make the adjustment to Camden Yards after pitching in the pitcher-friendly ball park in San Diego.
After Brach and Webb, none of the newcomers are assured a spot in the Orioles bullpen despite some of them having no options remaining.
Kelvin De La Cruz has never pitched in the big leagues and boasts a career 4.18 ERA in the minor leagues, but 111 of his 185 games were starts. The left hander does have a shot to break camp with the Orioles due to Patton's suspension as De La Cruz has sported good splits against left handers and a good strike out per nine inning ratio. De La Cruz does not have any minor league options remaining, but there is little worry that he would not pass through waivers if the Orioles outrighted him to AAA Norfolk.
Another newcomer with no options remaining is Edgmer Escalona who the Orioles picked up from the Colorado Rockies. Escalona is a bit of a head scratcher as to what the Orioles see in him. Escalona has a career 4.50 ERA in the big leagues, which includes a 5.67 ERA in 2013 in 37 games. Barring a shutdown spring, Escalona will likely be outrighted to AAA Norfolk and there is no worry that he would be claimed on waivers either.
An interesting newcomer to the fold is Evan Meek, who the Orioles signed to a Minor League deal with an invite to Spring Training. Meek was an NL All Star in 2010 when he posted a 2.14 ERA in 70 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but has since struggled and he pitched in AAA the entire 2013 season for the Texas Rangers. Baltimore is hoping that Meek can return to his old form, but we look for Meek to begin the season in the bullpen for the Tides.
It is pretty obvious that the Orioles will be depending more on their returning relievers than their newcomers, but both Brach and Webb will look to make big contributions to the 2014 bullpen. De La Cruz will likely make his MLB debut at some point with his ability to get left handers out, and again, with Patton beginning the year suspended, Kelvin has a real chance at breaking camp.
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