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Orioles debut of Ellicott City’s Bruce Zimmermann to come in Thursday’s doubleheader as Game 2 starter

Bruce Zimmermann is scheduled to be the latest Orioles prospect to make his debut in the second game of Thursday’s doubleheader as the club plans to add him to the roster between games and make him the third rookie in their starting rotation.

The first set of roster moves made ahead of the 4:35 p.m. first game were more for pitching depth purposes behind starter Dean Kremer, with Branden Kline recalled from the Bowie site and Evan Phillips added as the 29th man for the doubleheader. The Orioles also designated for assignment right-hander Asher Wojciechowski, who was dropped from the rotation to make room for Kremer.

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Zimmermann will be added to the roster between games.

“Very exciting,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “He’s been throwing the ball well down in Bowie. Kind of picked up where he left off in spring training. I really felt like he was throwing the ball great. I heard a lot about him but watching him pitch in those major league spring training games, I was really impressed with his stuff and it sounds like he’s been doing the same thing in Bowie. I’m excited to hand him the ball in the second game in Bowie today.”

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An Ellicott City native and Loyola Blakefield graduate who began his collegiate career at Towson before transferring to Mount Olive University in North Carolina, Zimmermann was tearing through his first full professional season in the Atlanta Braves organization when he was acquired ahead of the July 31 trade deadline in 2018 in a deal that sent Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day away.

For the next year, Zimmermann pitched at Double-A Bowie. He had a 2.58 ERA in 17 games for the Baysox, earning a late-season promotion to Triple-A Norfolk.

Over the winter, he went to the renowned Driveline Baseball facility in Washington for specialized work on his mechanics and had a new strength routine to help prepare for a possible major league debut.

As a non-roster invitee to spring training, Zimmermann was still in camp and pitching well when the coronavirus pandemic shut down sports. When the Orioles resumed play in the summer, Zimmermann was a surprise omission from the list of players at their secondary site in Bowie.

Upon intake testing, Zimmermann tested positive for COVID-19 and needed to recover before he was added to the camp on Aug. 3.

Hyde said he’s been continuing to refine what he does well at the Bowie camp.

“The reports I’m getting are that he is doing what he did in spring training, which was utilizing all of his pitches,” Hyde said. “I like his fastball. I thought he threw a really nice breaking ball, changeup in big league camp. He did well, and he’s done that in Bowie also. This is the time for him, and I’m looking forward to this evening when he makes his first start.”

Once he appears in a game, Zimmermann will be the fifth Orioles player to make his debut this season, joining outfielder Ryan Mountcastle, fellow pitchers Dean Kremer and Keegan Akin, and infielder Ramón Urías.

Kline was the last Maryland native to debut for the Orioles when he made his first appearance for the club last April 20. Zimmermann will be the 12th Maryland native to start for the Orioles, with Phillips and Ryan Meisinger making opener starts in 2018.

Wojciechowski out

Not long after losing his rotation spot to Kremer, Wojciechowski lost his roster spot to another rookie pitcher. Acquired last year to ease the Orioles' pitching woes, the veteran right-hander was a settling force in the rotation in 2019 but wasn’t able to be the same in 2020.

“Very, very tough morning,” Hyde said. “Especially last year, he really picked us up. We were in dire need of starting pitching, and we were having a tough time just finishing nine innings of baseball a lot of nights with very few guys available out of the pen. Our rotation was a little all over the place and not giving us many innings on a lot of nights and Wojo really did a great job of solidifying and helping us out.”

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