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  • Writer's pictureGrant DeVivo

Baysox Bullpen Buddies

Five relievers to keep an eye on at the Double-A Bowie Baysox

In the coming years, including this year, the Baltimore Orioles are going to need bullpen

help. Whether they choose to stay within the organization or whether they explore the free agent or trade market, it is inevitable that the bullpen is going to need reinforcements.

All-Star closer and fan favorite Felix Bautista is down until 2025 as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. The late-inning duo of Yennier Cano and Craig Kimbrel is a solid one, but they don't always take the easiest routes to get the job done in the 8th and 9th innings. Bryan Baker pitched himself out of a big league job.

The Orioles will need relief help down the road.

In past years, they've raised some fairly efficient relievers out of the minors. Lefty sidearmer Donnie Hart gave a valent effort as an Oriole, posting a 3.42 across four seasons. 6'4" righty Oliver Drake had a 10.0 K/9 rate in 37 relief innings with the Birds before really blossoming as a Tampa Bay Rays reliever.

The Baysox have tons of talented relievers working hard in their bullpen including Dylan Heid.

In Double-A Bowie, a new batch of relief hopefuls are on the rise. The Baysox have some talented young arms developing out of their bullpen. While they may still be distant from a big league opportunity, if they continue their dominance as is in the Minor Leagues, then there is a possibility that you could see them in a big league Orioles uniform someday. Here are five relievers who are currently with the Baysox that you should keep a close eye on as the season moves along.

There is a strikeout machine in the makings in the 23-year-old Alabamian. All this guy does is continue to rack up swings and misses, and tons of them. Bright, who can work both in the rotation and out of the bullpen, racked up 147 punchouts in 99.2 innings last season (13.3 K/9). He has a mid-90s fastball and a wipe out slider that propels his strikeout game. Bright will eat innings, though it makes sense to work Bright as a middle/long reliever. If he can work on his command a bit (56 walks last year) and take control of the strike zone better, then this is someone who could break through into the Orioles' bullpen in the coming years.

The ball is going to come out of Gillies' hand funky. He stands at 6'8", has a lot of movement in his delivery, and throws very overhand. That's a reason why Gillies, who is supplied with a big high-90s fastball, also racks up a lot of K's like Bright. Last season, he struck out 61 batters in 40.2 innings (13.5 K/9) split between Aberdeen and Bowie. He posted an 0.81 WHIP, and opponents were only able to put up a .481 OPS against him. This tall, imposing, hard-throwing righty has a lot to offer, and I'm al for it. He gets swings and misses, and he comes through in nail-bitting situations. There would be nothing better than him taking the necessary steps up this season and get a chance out of Brandon Hyde's bullpen eventually. To me, he is Mr. Clutch out of the bullpen, and he has been nothing but elite in the Minor Leagues.

Heid, 25, is another hard-throwing righty who is on the right track. He dots mid-90s fastballs right where the target is presented, and he will not hesitate to mix in a sharp low-80s slider either. Last season with Aberdeen and Bowie, he posted a 2.58 ERA in 45.1 innings of work, striking out 68 batters and holding opposing batters to a .187 batting average. He holds a lifetime 3.41 ERA in the minors with 132 punchouts in 87 innings. Heid is growing and competing with a great group of hard-throwing relievers by his side. He is in a great learning environment for relief pitching and given what he as accomplished thus far, he will be right there in the mix of competition for the future of the Orioles' bullpen. I like Heid a lot.

It certainly would not hurt to have some left-handed help in the bullpen. Hennen, a 26-year-old southpaw, is on a good trajectory that could take him places. He posted a solid 2.45 ERA in 33 relief innings last season, striking out 39 batters while holding opposing offenses to just a .218 batting average along the way. He also tossed 3 scoreless innings in Spring Training. Hennen may not blow the fastball by hitters like many of his peer relievers, but he still gets the job done and has posted solid numbers since arriving to Birdland. I will be keeping a close eye on Hennen in Bowie throughout the season.

The 26-year-old from California joined the Orioles organization last year via trade. He got into 8 games with Aberdeen and his dominance there (19 IP, 0.95 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, .138 BA) is only a sample size of the dominant Minor League career that he has had so far (6 seasons, 3.14 ERA, 175 K, 1.16 WHIP). I, personally, have not seen Rinehart pitch yet though given the numbers he has posted in the past, I am excited to get back out to Bowie soon and see what Rinehart is all about. The O's might be onto something here with Rinehart.

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