Top Orioles prospect Adley Rutschman progresses to light throwing, tee work as he recovers from right tricep strain | NOTES

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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Orioles have yet to officially rule out top prospect Adley Rutschman from their season-opening roster, but even with manager Brandon Hyde on Sunday reporting progress in the 24-year-old catcher’s work toward a return from a right tricep strain, such a debut appears to be a long shot.

Having been limited to receiving work, Rutschman has started doing some light throwing and hitting off a tee from both sides of the plate, beginning his progression after a shutdown period of about two weeks. Hyde said he did not know how long Rutschman’s build-up program would take. But given the season begins Friday and he hasn’t faced a pitcher since a minor league intrasquad game March 11, Rutschman breaking camp with the Orioles is remarkably unlikely.


That doesn’t mean he hasn’t benefited from the past three weeks.

“In everything we do, he’s been involved,” Hyde said. “Maybe not much from running the drill, but he stands there and he’s been in every single meeting. Whenever we do any sort of fundamental [drill] or anything on the field, he’s right there. He’s not fully involved yet. He’s trying to soak in as much as he possibly can without being able to participate.”


Rutschman entered camp as a nonroster invitee positioned to compete to be Baltimore’s starting catcher after a productive season between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk. Drafted first overall in 2019, Rutschman ranks as the sport’s top prospect, according to Baseball America.

Other organizations’ top prospects with similar stature to Rutschman could beat him to the majors. Saturday, the Detroit Tigers announced first baseman Spencer Torkelson, drafted with the No. 1 pick a year after Rutschman, will be on their roster to begin the season. Infielder Bobby Witt Jr., selected second overall behind Rutschman, is a strong candidate to break camp with the Kansas City Royals.

The unfortunate timing of Rutschman’s injury, coming just as major league camp started, surely spoiled his chances of wearing an Orioles uniform against the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday.

“He’s antsy, like anybody,” Hyde said. “He’s doing everything he can right now.”

Baumann star of loss

In the sixth inning of Sunday’s 8-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins, Mike Baumann replaced Félix Bautista with the bases loaded and left them that way, starting an outing in which he retired seven of the eight Twins he faced. The Orioles’ No. 11 prospect per Baseball America, Baumann got his fastball up to 98 mph hour, per Statcast. He was about 3 mph above his 2021 major league average velocity for that pitch, and almost half of the ones he threw resulted in a called strike or swing-and-miss.

Baumann is among what Hyde called a “bucket” of pitchers who could wind up in the Orioles’ rotation or a related piggyback role. Hyde said bringing him in with the bases loaded was “not how we drew it up,” but he was impressed by how he handled the situation and the following two innings.

“That was the the highlight of the day, was the way Michael Baumann threw the baseball,” Hyde said. “We don’t really have defined roles right now, and so that might be realistic in a season where he’s coming in in long relief and then face a tough right-handed hitter with guys on base.”

Kremer ends spring confident

In what was likely his last start of the spring in a bid to earn a rotation and roster spot, right-hander Dean Kremer was hit hard in Sunday’s 8-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins, with six balls put in play against him at 100 mph or harder.


But he ended the outing confident, a feeling that largely evaded him as he put up a 7.55 major league ERA in 2021. It comes after a spring he posted an 8.00 ERA and allowed two baserunners per inning.

“The results may not have shown it in some innings, but I definitely feel good,” Kremer said. “I know where pretty much everything’s going, so it’s just a matter of mixing the right combinations. … I’ve shown myself that I have the ability to throw all four pitches for strikes and be competitive.”

He expressed that on a day he allowed seven hits and four earned runs in four innings. He also issued three walks in the first inning, though they were his first free passes of the spring and he avoided walks in his next three frames.

“I feel like he has more confidence in his pitches,” said center fielder Cedric Mullins, who recorded the Orioles’ first hit with a two-out single in the sixth. “I think that’s what he’s come to realize is he has good stuff. It’s just a matter of him executing pitches, which is step one of being a good pitcher. It’s a learning curve. Everyone goes through it. But I feel like he’s making strides.”

Added Hyde: “He’s got major league stuff. Now it’s about understanding how to work ahead and stay ahead and finish major league hitters off.”

Outfielders Hays, Stewart nearing returns

A pair of outfielders absent from the Orioles’ lineup in recent days could both rejoin Monday.


Austin Hays, expected to be Baltimore’s starting left fielder, hasn’t played since Thursday. The next day, his wife, Samantha, had the couple’s second son, Hayden.

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DJ Stewart, contending for a spot on the Orioles’ bench, hasn’t played since March 23 after taking a 96 mph fastball off his left hand, suffering a bruised ring finger knuckle. Stewart stayed in Sarasota to get at-bats against Orioles pitchers on the Ed Smith Stadium backfields, with hopes that he can show enough in the final three exhibitions to make the team.

“Gonna try to get him in as many games in here to the end,” Hyde said. “He’s gonna take a ton of at-bats today. He took some yesterday, felt great this morning. We decided to have him take even more at-bats back there today, just kind of controlled, and he’ll probably take more back there than he could in a game today here. That goes well, he’ll be in there tomorrow.”

Like everywhere else on the Orioles’ roster, manager Brandon Hyde is unsure who will occupy his season-opening bullpen. Determining roles for relievers, then, is not yet within his purview.

Bullpen picture unclear

Like everywhere else on the Orioles’ roster, Hyde is unsure who will occupy his season-opening bullpen. Determining roles for relievers, then, is not yet within his purview.

“I’m not even close to that,” Hyde said.

One candidate for a late-inning role, right-hander Dillon Tate, is dealing with a sore throat that’s expected to keep him out for a couple of days. Right-hander Cole Sulser and left-handers Paul Fry and Tanner Scott are the returning fixtures to Baltimore’s bullpen. There’s a mix of candidates for the leftover spots, with some of the pitchers who miss out on the Orioles’ rotation likely to land there.


“It’s there’s a lot of question marks when it comes to our pitching,” Hyde said.

The Orioles will try to get answers Monday, when left-handers Bruce Zimmermann and Zac Lowther will both pitch in bulk. Hyde said no players beyond those who would be expected — with season-opening starter John Means, All-Star Cedric Mullins and team leader Trey Mancini among them — have been told they’re making the team.