There are no apparent slots in the Orioles starting rotation, but pitching prospects Kevin Gausman and Mike Wright are off to hot starts for Triple-A Norfolk.
Gausman, who is simultaneously being stretched out as a starter in the minors and kept on a strict pitch count to save him for later in the season, is rightfully seen by many as the solution to whatever rotation issues may come. In 21 1/3 innings over five starts, Gausman has struck out 20 hitters and walked 11, en route to a 2.53 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP.
The 2012 first-round draft pick most recently pitched Saturday night, when he made it through 4 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out five and allowing three hits before reaching his limit of 75 pitches. He works with a mid-90s fastball, a wipeout mid-80s slider and a swing-and-miss changeup that sits in the mid-80s as well.
Wright, the Orioles' third-round pick in 2011, had his worst start of the season last Thursday. He allowed four earned runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings against Lehigh Valley. On the season, he boasts a 2.78 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 22 2/3 innings.
Eddie Gamboa watch
Gamboa, a pitcher the Orioles hope will be the next great knuckleballer in the major leagues, struggled yesterday in the Tides' 6-2 loss to Columbus. He allowed six earned runs and six hits — including three home runs — in 5 2/3 innings, which brought his season ERA to 5.40 in six appearances. When the 29-year-old right-hander's knuckleball works, he's seeing results, as shown by his 31 strikeouts. But after having success with the pitch in Double-A Bowie last year, Gamboa hasn't seen his new arsenal translate well to Triple-A. He was 2-5 with a 6.23 ERA in nine starts for Norfolk last year, and is now 0-2 in 2014.
Weeks call-up well deserved
Before he was added to the Orioles' 25-man roster Saturday, infielder Jemile Weeks was the hottest hitter in Norfolk with a .296/.451/.481 line, including four doubles, three triples and seven RBIs. Otherwise, the hitters in the International League were relatively quiet.
Other than Weeks, outfielder Xavier Paul is the only Tides player with an OPS over .800 (.810). Paul has a pair of home runs and six RBIs this year. First baseman Brett Wallace, who could be in line for an opportunity if Chris Davis' injury is serious, is batting just .161/.257/.194, with only four hits in his previous 10 games.