O's beat writers Jon Meoli and Eduardo Encina preview the upcoming mini-camp. (Ulysses Muñoz / Baltimore Sun video)
From stalwarts on the major league roster to young arms who have barely been in the organization for a month, next week's Orioles pitching minicamp in Sarasota, Fla., will provide a cross-section of the future of the team's pitching stocks with an eye toward those who could be in an Orioles uniform this season.
Among the more familiar names are relievers Mychal Givens and Richard Bleier, who are solidified in the major league fold after strong 2017 seasons. Givens has been a meaningful part of the bullpen for over two seasons, and will see more high-leverage innings with closer Zach Britton out for the first half with an Achilles tendon injury.
There are also a handful of young power-armed relievers who made their major league debuts last year and will look to become more established major leaguers this season in left-hander Tanner Scott and right-hander Jimmy Yacabonis.
Scott, who worked as a starter last year at Double-A Bowie despite triple-digit velocity as a reliever, is the sixth-ranked prospect in the organization, according to Baseball America. He made two major league appearances, while Yacabonis pitched 14 times in the majors a season ago.
It's unclear whether Scott will continue to work as a starter or a reliever, but the minicamp will also be the first look this year at right-hander Miguel Castro, who shined in relief for the Orioles in 2017 and made one start at the end of the season. Castro will get a long look as a starter this spring, with the Orioles only returning Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy to the major league rotation.
Others who figure to be rotation depth, if not more, because of their status on the 40-man roster include right-handers Hunter Harvey, Yefry Ramírez and David Hess and left-handers Chris Lee and Nestor Cortes.
Harvey, a frequent sight at the team's minicamps in recent years as he battled back from various elbow injuries, will attend minicamp after his first healthy offseason since he joined the organization as a first-round draft pick in 2013. He pitched well in 18 2/3 rehabilitation innings last season and will be focused on building innings in his first healthy season in 2018.
Lee struggled in his first taste of Triple-A Norfolk last season with a 5.11 ERA, but the organization allowed him to build innings as he works to develop a breaking ball and refine his command.
Hess was added to the 40-man roster in the fall to protect him from the Rule 5 draft after he went 11-9 with a 3.85 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP for Bowie.
Both Cortes and Ramírez came over from the New York Yankees last year, with Cortes a Rule 5 draft pick who had a 2.06 ERA in 30 appearances (13 starts) over three levels in the Yankees farm system last year. He could be a back-end starter or swingman, as the team needs to keep him on the major league roster all season or lose his rights. Ramírez was acquired for international signing bonus slots, and was 15-3 with a 3.47 ERA in the Eastern League in 2017.
Other than Harvey, the only participating starter who hasn't pitched at Double-A or higher is left-hander Keegan Akin, the 2016 second-round pick who started poorly last year at High-A Frederick but finished with a 4.14 ERA and pitched well in the Arizona Fall League.
Other invitees include former outfielder Dariel Álvarez, who underwent Tommy John surgery shortly after he was converted to pitcher, plus right-hander Lucas Long and left-handers Andrew Faulkner, Luis González, and Joely Rodríguez.
Long had a 2.95 ERA last year for Double-A Bowie, though most of his success came as a long reliever. González had a 2.47 ERA for Frederick, while Faulkner was recently re-signed as a minor league free agent after posting a 2.79 ERA last year for Norfolk. Rodríguez was a minor league free agent signed from the Texas Rangers who has a big fastball.
One noticeable absence is right-hander Cody Sedlock, the club's top draft pick in 2016 who had a 5.11 ERA and dealt with elbow troubles that shut him down twice at Frederick last year. He didn't throw in the fall instructional league as he continued to rehab, and is still rehabbing with good results. Sedlock will start his throwing program next week, but not in Sarasota.