As the Orioles continue to coach Terrin Vavra to first base before games, with practices beginning Sunday at Tropicana Field, they have shortstop Gunnar Henderson doing the same with Triple-A Norfolk. Take balls on the ground, make throws from a new angle.
Henderson should get a few starts at first base this week, possibly tonight against the Durham Bulls at Harbor Park.
Making Henderson comfortable in that position would help the Orioles with roster flexibility if his contract is selected. They are looking for left-handed options, especially as injury insurance.
Henderson started at shortstop and third base as a professional and played five innings at second base last summer with Single-A Aberdeen. First base is new to him.
That doesn’t mean Henderson is definitely coming in 2022. It’s a daily conversation within the organization, and the strikeouts – 62 from 32 walks in 53 games with Norfolk prior to last night – offer reason to wait. .
Henderson, ranked by Baseball America as the No. 1 prospect, and outfielder Kyle Stowers are TBD.
Executive Vice President/General Manager Mike Elias said during Sunday’s interview on MLB Network Radio that Henderson’s promotion is “definitely on the table” and he is “on the radar screen.”
Asked again about Henderson during an interview this week with MASNsports.com’s Brendan Mortensen at Bowie, Elias replied: “Obviously he had one of the best years of any minor, that’s why he increased the prospect list. He was very, very dominant here at Bowie. It was clear that wasn’t enough of a challenge for him with more walks than strikeouts, so even with his age, being that young that he is – I think he was 20 at the time of the promotion – we slipped him up to Triple A.
“It turned out to be a bit more difficult. You see that the withdrawal rate has increased. He still has fits with the left-handed throw. But overall, his Triple-A numbers are very, very encouraging. He is doing very well. He’s by far the youngest player in the whole league, and we’re going to do what’s right for him first and foremost. But I think he’s also putting himself in a position to be part of a lot of conversations about helping this team over time. So we’ll just see what happens.”
* Now, it really makes sense that DL Hall would return to the Orioles as a reliever.
Austin Voth blocks it.
Well, not really, but Voth should stay in the rotation. He is one of Elias’ best waiver claims, with an improved curve ball, better preparation and more data available to him since his arrival.
The right-hander unveiled a new slider yesterday, with more horizontal movement. He has a precise idea on how to pitch and mix the repertoire.
Voth pitched six scoreless innings and recorded a 2.81 ERA in 14 games for the Orioles. He had a 10.13 ERA in 19 relief appearances with the Nationals.
A guard, whether he’s a starter in 2023 or a length guy in the bullpen who can jump into the rotation if a spot becomes available.
There could be a crowd with Hall, Grayson Rodriguez, Kyle Bradish, Dean Kremer, Jordan Lyles if the Orioles pick his option and don’t trade him, possibly John Means, maybe a veteran signed as a free agent or secured in a deal, as Elias swears to be busy during the winter. Bruce Zimmermann and Mike Baumann hope to return from Norfolk.
Other throwing prospects are with the tides or by climbing the ladder to get there.
Chayce McDermott, acquired from the Astros in the trade of Trey Mancini, is the No. 14 prospect in the system by MLBPipeline.com and No. 17 by Baseball America, and he just received a bump at Double-A. Southpaw Cade Povich, obtained from the Twins in the trade of Jorge López, is No. 15 by MLBPipeline.com and No. 29 by Baseball America, and he is also part of the Baysox rotation.
Spenser Watkins, who starts today against the Cubs, has done a good job since returning from the injured list, but he could be back on the free agent market after the season. This is the price to pay for improving the talent and depth of the organization.
It could also create an opportunity for Elias to move young pitchers over the winter – we know the untouchables – in exchange for a record starter.
Elias told Mortensen that Rodriguez would be “back soon.” The door for his return from a Latin strain remains open, whether in the majors or Triple-A. The Orioles don’t seem inclined to shut him up.