The Orioles optioned rookie right-hander David Hess to Triple-A Norfolk on Friday to make 25-man roster space for right-hander Dylan Bundy’s return from the disabled list.
Hess’ time with the Orioles was a mixed bag. He had a 2-5 mark with a 6.06 ERA in 10 games (nine starts) with the major league team.
He initially performed well in filling Chris Tillman’s rotation spot when Tillman went on the DL with a lower back strain, recording quality starts in four of his first five outings. But Hess had a 10.70 ERA and a .338 opponents’ batting average over his next four starts.
Hess was moved into a bullpen role — his rotation spot was taken by right-hander Yefry Ramírez — and made his only relief appearance after Ramírez on Wednesday in Philadelphia, allowing two runs over two innings.
“It is a very fine line, and I think you look at a lot of the pitches I gave up hits on and they were very close pitches,” Hess said. “It’s a matter of a few inches a lot of time. I think the fine-tuning of everything, the details and the execution, I think I showed I could do it in those first starts and I have the capability and everything that was needed.”
The 24-year-old will return to a starter role with Norfolk, where he will make his first start for the Tides on Sunday. Orioles manager Buck Showalter said the club would like to see Hess, who was 2-0 with a 2.12 ERA in six starts with the Tides before he was promoted, concentrate on his fastball command and developing his changeup as a better out pitch.
“I think David can get back to working on some things in a little more relaxed situation,” Showalter said. “He knows what he needs to do. There will be some pitches he’ll make down there that he will get away with. I was telling him, hold yourself to a high standard. You have a pretty good feel now … that you should have a pretty good feel for the difference.”
Hess said he will work on duplicating the approach he had in his first five starts with the Orioles, during which he had a 3.07 ERA and held opponents to a .245 batting average.
“I’m really going to use this time to get back to that, work on locating the fastball and the off-speed pitches, playing off of that,” Hess said. “So just making sure those are still crisp and trying to be as fine as possible without losing the aggression. I think you want to go right at guys, but you also have to realize they’re going to hit mistakes, so you almost have to have a calm intensity when you go about it.”
Said Showalter: “David likes to compete. He ain’t scared. He’s [like], ‘Here’s mine. See what you can do with it.’ I love that part of it. That sometimes is as hard to find as the other. He’s not intimidated by the level and the competition. That part of it is really going to play in his favor.”
Bundy was activated to start Friday night’s game against the Twins at Target Field. He missed two starts after spraining his ankle while rounding third on the base paths during the Orioles’ interleague series in Washington.
Orioles sign third-round pick Knight
The Orioles completed a deal with third-round draft pick Blaine Knight on Friday just before the 5 p.m. deadline to sign selections in last month’s first-year player draft.
Knight, a right-hander from the University of Arkansas, will receive a $1.1 million bonus, which is significantly higher than the $663,200 slot bonus value assigned to the 87th overall pick.
Knight, a redshirt junior, was 14-0 with a 2.80 ERA in 19 starts for a Razorbacks team that advanced to the NCAA Division I College World Series final. He allowed just 96 hits over 112 1/3 innings and had 120 strikeouts with 25 walks while holding opponents to a .230 batting average.
Because the season ended last week, Knight will likely receive an extended break before starting his pro career with a minor league affiliate.
The Orioles also signed 13th-rounder Andrew Fregia, a third baseman from Sam Houston State, just before Friday’s deadline.
With Fregia, the Orioles signed each of their first 19 draft picks. Their 20th pick, Texas Tech redshirt sophomore Caleb Kilian, will return to school.
Tillman takes step forward
Showalter said right-hander Chris Tillman took a step forward in his fourth minor league rehabilitation assignment start Thursday despite a pedestrian pitching line.
Tillman allowed four runs on nine hits and two walks over six innings pitching for Triple-A Norfolk against Durham, but Showalter said the outing was better than the numbers indicated.
“He got a feel for all of his pitches,” Showalter said. “I think four hits — two of them were infield hits, a couple of them were broken-bat hits — those are the things you only get from being there instead of reading the stat sheet. All of his pitches were there. I think his command was there. I watched it today.”
Tillman, who has an 8.40 ERA in four rehab starts, is scheduled to make his next rehab outing Tuesday for High-A Frederick.