Orioles reach agreement on major league deal with RHP Edgmer Escalona

The Baltimore Sun

The Orioles signed former Colorado Rockies right-hander Edgmer Escalona to a one-year major league deal, the team announced Wednesday.

Escalona, 27, spent parts of four major league seasons with the Rockies, compiling a 1-5 record with a 4.50 ERA over 100 innings. He was 1-4 with a 5.67 ERA and seven holds in 37 relief appearances last season, striking out 34 batters and walking 14 in 46 innings.

Escalona pitched well at the start of last season with Colorado, holding opposing hitters to a .216 batting average over the first two months of the season. But he went on the 15-day disabled list in June with a minor elbow injury and struggled to regain his form after returning on July 2. He was later designated for assignment and outrighted to Triple-A Colorado Springs in August.

The Venezuela-born Escalona comes to the Orioles with a reputation of being a hard thrower — his fastball averaged 94 mph in the past two seasons with Colorado — who can work multiple relief innings. He pitched more than one inning in 15 of his first 18 appearances last season. He relies mostly on a fastball-slider mix with an occasional changeup.

Escalona, however, has started each of his games while pitching in Venezuela this offseason, going 1-1 with a 2.10 ERA and 31 hits, 25 strikeouts and 11 walks over 34 1/3 innings.

His success in Venezuela comes from his ability to develop a split-fingered changeup during winter ball that, combined with his mid-90s fastball, is able to keep hitters off balance.

The pitch also has helped Escalona hold left-handed hitters to a .173 average in Venezuela. He has pitched five or more innings in five of his six starts this winter, so the Orioles could try Escalona as either a reliever or a starter this spring.

He is the second reliever the Orioles have signed to a major league deal this week. On Monday, the club signed left-handed reliever Kelvin De La Cruz to a one-year deal.

With the move, the Orioles currently have 33 players on their 40-man roster. MASNSports.com first reported that the Orioles reached a deal with Escalona.

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