When major league rosters expand in September, it's hard for all of the players summoned to get into games, especially for a pennant contender. But part of the basic reason September call-ups exist is to reward players for strong seasons, and none fit that bill more than left-hander Jayson Aquino.
The Orioles purchased Aquino from the St. Louis Cardinals in April, ending a whirlwind 14 months that saw the 23-year-old left-hander traded from the Colorado Rockies, who initially signed him, to the Toronto Blue Jays, followed by stops with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cleveland Indians and Cardinals.
Aquino had some early troubles at Double-A Bowie, but recovered to finish the season with a 3.90 ERA for the Baysox, and a 2.08 ERA in five relief appearances for Triple-A Norfolk.
He also entered Saturday having pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings over two appearances with the major league club, striking out two without allowing a base runner.
Earlier this week, speaking through Orioles media relations assistant and Spanish-language translator Ramon Alarcon, Aquino talked about his climb through the Orioles system, his midseason turnaround at Bowie and how the team's help in bringing along his breaking ball helped him to his major league debut.
This is your second stint in the majors this year, but what has this experience been like getting to be a part of a team chasing a playoff spot the way the Orioles are?
It's a good experience. I'm taking advantage of the veterans, how they go about their business, and learning from them. I feel blessed and thankful for the Orioles for the opportunity they've given me. I'm just waiting for my chance.
It has to be hard going from organization to organization the way you have. After your early struggles, you started working a lot on your breaking ball. How important has that been to turning around your season and getting yourself up to the majors?
It's tough coming from different organizations and trying to stay focused, but I just have to concentrate, work on my pitches every single day, and hopefully polish that breaking ball that will allow me to succeed when given the opportunity.
How important was Bowie pitching coach Alan Mills in developing that breaking ball and getting it to where it is today?
Alan Mills has been one of the best pitching coaches I've ever had. He's been a really big influence, giving me the confidence to work on the curveball and go ahead and throw it and not be scared of the outcome. I kept working at it in Double-A, same as I did in Triple-A.
How did he help out with that? Was it something where you didn't want to throw it in games? How did you get it more involved?
Last year, I was with the Cardinals and I was throwing a slider. But this year, in spring training, I started throwing a curveball once I joined the Orioles. I started practicing the curveball again, and started making the pitch. It's getting better every day.