It took almost two months, but the Orioles are actually looking like a decent baseball team, winning five of their last six games. It should be noted that they faced two struggling teams — the Royals and the Rays — but it was fun to watch solid baseball.
A bigger test comes arrives week against the surprising Phillies and the Red Sox.
Hess’ Impressive Debut
In recent years watching Ubaldo Jimenez struggle and more recently Chris Tillman, fans have clamored for better options than running out the same struggling pitchers every five days. Even if it was for one game, David Hess’ performance proved fans correct as the young right-hander was extremely effective against the Rays. After allowing a three-run home run in the first inning, Hess settled down and pitched six innings, allowing only those three runs with three strikeouts.
Hess appears to have earned a second start and it looks like it will take place this weekend against the Red Sox. Outside of struggling in 2016, which caused the right-hander to repeat Double-A, Hess has pitched well at every level. It remains to be seen if that will translate to the big leagues, but at the age of 24 and being in the system since 2014, he should get a few opportunities to prove he can stick.
Wednesday’s Starting Pitcher
Depending on the weather, the O’s will need a starting pitcher on Wednesday and Miguel Castro could be the favorite to get the spot start. Using Castro would at least allow the team to hold off on a roster move, but it would also knock the right-hander out for a few days, which would impact the Red Sox series. Another potential option would be Baysox starter Keegan Akin, who would be working on normal rest. The left-handed prospect has pitched really well this season with a 2.75 ERA and a very impressive 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings.
Another alternative is veteran right-hander Tim Melville, who pitched effectively in Triple-A with a 2.97 ERA and a 5-0 record. The organization seems to be impressed with the career minor leaguer and he could be the guy the O’s turn to if they don’t want to burn Castro. Melville will also be working on normal rest, which is another check mark.
After suffering a hairline fracture in his right wrist during spring training, one of the top prospects in the O’s system has returned for the Baysox. In his first four games, Ryan Mountcastle has shown no signs of being limited as he has already collected five hits. We know Mountcastle can hit, but the key will showing he can handle the hot corner. There’s a big void on the big league roster at that position and it doesn’t look like the issue will be resolved any time soon.
I’m hoping the 21-year- old can handle the position as it will solve a lot of issues at that position for the next several seasons. It’s not unrealistic to think Mountcastle will make his debut for the big league team before the end of the season, most likely as a September call-up. If he can’t play third base, the O’s will have another player that is a corner outfielder/first baseman/designated hitter.