SARASOTA, Fla. — The Baltimore Orioles made their first cuts of the spring Thursday, sending five players to minor league camp, including two of the organization’s most promising young pitchers.
The cuts included left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez and right-hander Mike Wright; they are widely considered the organization’s top pitching prospects behind Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman.
Three others were reassigned to minor league camp. Catcher Allan de San Miguel did not play in a Grapefruit League game for the Orioles because he was with the World Baseball Classic’s Team Australia; catcher Luis Martinez did not play in a game because of a left oblique strain; and left-hander Zach Braddock is recovering from shoulder surgery.
Rodriguez, the youngest player in camp at 19, is listed by Baseball America as the organization’s fifth-best prospect after going 5-7 with a 3.70 ERA in 22 starts for Class A Delmarva.
“He wasn’t here with a chance to make the club. When we looked at guys who could benefit from being here, he was one of them because of all the things we could expose him to,” Orioles Manager Buck Showalter said. “I asked him, ‘Okay, why do you think you were here? What did you gain, what did you see?’
“And when he said, ‘The best pitchers are the ones that work the hardest,’ I said, ‘Okay, you are getting it.’ ”
Showalter said he had heard that Rodriguez needed to improve his routine, his professionalism and technical aspects like delivering the ball to the plate more quickly.
He pitched in an intrasquad game and then threw one scoreless inning Wednesday against Team Spain, and Showalter said he was impressed with the young Venezuelan pitcher’s improvement.
Showalter also purposely placed Rodriguez’s locker between Miguel Gonzalez’s and Pedro Strop’s, two Spanish speakers with strong work ethics. And he believes that helped make a difference, too.
“[I told him] ‘You’ve got a chance to do a lot of great things for your family here if you stay on the approach that you are seeing these guys do,’ ” Showalter said. “That’s the last thing he’s got [to do] other than pitching and improving. I said, ‘You are getting to a level where you are going to get challenged and the separator is going to be the things I am talking to you about.’ ”
Wright, 23, made three appearances in the spring.
He posted a 5.14 ERA, including allowing one run on three hits in two innings Thursday against the Toronto Blue Jays.
“Impressive. Very similar stuff [to Rodriguez] except we just want to get him back on track,” Showalter said of Wright. “He was a good-looking pitcher last year when he left [Sarasota]. Still have some high hopes for him. We had some periods where he got out of whack last year. Good to see him finish on a high note today.”
The club’s third-round pick from East Carolina in 2011, Wright said he used his first full big league camp to learn from other players.
Showalter said Martinez may return to big league camp once his oblique has healed.
“When they tell us he’s ready to go and he’s caught a little bit over there, we’ll bring him back over for two or three good looks at him, four- or five-inning stints,” Showalter said. “I really want to look at him. We’ve got some good reports on him, especially defensively.”
The Orioles have 56 players in camp, including 16 non-roster invitees.
— Baltimore Sun