12 February 2016

Orioles Re-Sign Four 2015 Norfolk Tides

Joe Reisel's Archives

The Orioles' big-ticket moves have justifiably received most of our and your attention this off-season. But the Orioles organization consists of more than the major-league team; the Orioles have to stock four full-season, two short-season, and two Dominican Summer League minor-league affiliates. To complete the rosters of their upper-level affiliates, the Orioles, like all organizations, sign free agents to minor-league contracts. This offseason, the Orioles re-signed several players who were in their farm system for much of 2015. Four of them saw a lot of action at Norfolk and are likely to start 2016 there, assuming that they don't get released in spring training.

While this article may include some rudimentary statistical analysis, the conclusions are primarily based on my subjective observations during the 2015 season. In 2015, I scored - either as the MiLb.com datacaster or as a scorer for Baseball Info Solutions - 50 Norfolk Tides games.

Pedro Beato, relief pitcher

Pedro Beato was re-signed after being credited with 16 saves in 2015. Photo courtesy of Norfolk Tides/Les Treagus.

Pedro Beato returned to the Orioles in 2015, four years after the Mets selected him in the December 2010 Rule 5 draft. Beato spent 2015 at Norfolk. He served as a set-up reliever to Oliver Drake and as the closer when Drake was in Baltimore. He was credited with 16 saves and a 5-5 won-loss record. He had 2.65 ERA, surrendered 66 hits (five home runs) in 74 2/3 innings with 25 walks and 61 strikeouts. Although he struck out fewer batters than you'd like from a relief pitcher, his performance reflected in these statistics suggest that he could be another Brad Brach or Chaz Roe.

And he could. But I'm not convinced. It seemed to me that he was hit harder than reflected in his numbers. And it seemed that when he struggled, he was unable to right himself. He also was less effective late in the season, although that was probably caused by overwork as most of the bullpen was less effective late in the season. When he entered a game late in the season, I had zero confidence that he would be effective.

Beato could pitch well at Norfolk early in the season, and if he does, could get a call-up if Baltimore needs bullpen help. It's possible that he could pitch well in a low-leverage role - there are plenty of relief pitchers who've had one good 40-inning season - but he's unlikely to have long-term success.

Terry Doyle, starting pitcher (?)

Over 1/4 of Terry Doyle's career minor-league wins were earned in 2015. Photo courtesy of Norfolk Tides/Les Treagus.

The Orioles re-signed Terry Doyle after he went 16-2 with a 2.16 ERA in a 2015 season split between AA Bowie and AAA Norfolk. And he pitched 158 2/3 innings in 26 games (21 starts.) There's nothing wrong with those numbers, and Doyle truly is a valuable pitcher.

As a minor-leaguer. It should be no surprise that Doyle went 12-1, 1.97 at AA; he was a 29-year-old who had already had two good seasons in AAA. He began 2015 as a long reliever at Bowie and moved into the rotation when Elih Villanueva was temporarily promoted to Norfolk. He stayed in the rotation because he pitched very well and because Dylan Bundy was injured. Doyle was promoted to Norfolk in August when trades and promotions wiped out the Norfolk rotation. He continued to pitch well.

Doyle relies on control and command of mediocre stuff to get batters out. As I said, he's valuable in the minor leagues because he can effectively eat up innings, because he can (and has been) used as both a starter and as a relief pitcher, and because he accepts his role. He'll only make the major leagues as a desperation/emergency alternative, but he'll remain in the minor league until his stuff declines from mediocre to poor.

Andy Oliver, relief pitcher

Andy Oliver joined the Orioles system in 2015 after being released by Tampa Bay. With Norfolk, he was used as a middle-to-long relief pitcher; although he's left-handed, he wasn't used as a left-handed relief specialist. He was a top prospect in the Detroit organization after he was drafted, but failed his first major-league trial. Then he completely lost his control, which was never good to begin with. He can strike batters out - he averaged 10 1/2 strikeouts per nine innings last season - but in his career he's walked nearly six batters per nine innings.

I dreaded Oliver's entering a game because there was a good chance that he would be wild and ineffective. And when he's off, he's really off - a lot of long, slow innings with a lot of pitches. But occasionally he would have his control and he'd be effective. And, because he had been a starter for much of his career, he's capable of pitching multiple innings in an outing.

It's conceivable that Oliver will suddenly find his control, pitch well in the minors, and earn a shot in the major leagues. It's more likely that Oliver will continue to struggle, get off to a poor start, and get released after a few awful games in a row.

Sharlon Schoop, infielder

Sharlon Schoop is Jonathan Schoop's older brother. From 2010 through 2012, he had been a AA utility infielder in the Giants and Royals systems. He signed with the Orioles before the 2013 season; he missed 2013 with an injury and spent 2014 in his accustomed utility-infielder role at Bowie. He started 2015 at Bowie, and was promoted to Norfolk when Jayson Nix was released. He primarily played second base when Rey Navarro was injured or spelling Paul Janish at shortstop.

Schoop hasn't hit in the past two years; he hasn't posted an OPS above .600 in his two years in the Orioles system. (That implies that he's either had an on-base percentage below .300, a slugging percentage below .300, or both.) He played a competent but unremarkable second base, at least in comparison to Rey Navarro. I don't think he has the range for shortstop or the arm for third base.
I wouldn't be surprised if, for roster-management reasons, Schoop started 2016 back at Bowie. I see no reason to think that he'll see the major-league roster, except possibly as a reward for loyal service.


Roger said...

Beato seems like a decent fringe ML reliever. Did a little bit of decent work in Atlanta a couple of years ago.

Pip said...

Thanks for the article Joe, have you made a list of guys in AA or at Norfork could make a reasonable contribution to the big team this year?
Caleb Joseph sure did, and I wonder who will be the next guy.
Also, because Hardy cannot be counted on to be completely recovered, we will probably need a solid shortstop sooner rather than later, and that is not Flaherty.
Are we likely to see Janish again, or is there someone in front of him in the pecking order?

Joe Reisel said...

#Pip - I assume you know about the players most likely to help the Orioles in 2016 - the first basemen, Walker and Mancini, the right-handed starters, Wright and Wilson, and the relief pitcher, Oliver Drake. No one saw Caleb Joseph coming.

I do have a planned article on some of the other minor-league free agents signed by the Orioles.

If you're thinking of Janish as a long-term shortstop option, think again. He's 33. The Orioles' long-term solution at shortstop might be Manny Machado, but then the Orioles don't have a long-term third base solution.

Pip said...

No, I was just thinking of who would be the backup SS.
Hardy was injured and awful last year so a competent backup is probably important. Flaherty wouldn't work except in limited doses, so I was wondering who would stand in at SS if we needed someone for 40 games or so.

Roger said...

Isn't Jomar the long term solution at 3B?

Jon Shepherd said...

Majority opinion is that he gets too big and cannot play there. Hope is he us a MLB 3B. Long road to go though.

Joe Reisel said...

Jomar Reyes is still a teenager, with approximately 150 games of professional experience, none above Low Class A. He's too far away from the major leagues to be seriously considered as a "solution." He's stiil a seedling. I don't consider players as "solutions" until they've reached AA.

Anonymous said...

Schoop can't hit his way out of a wet paper bag, only reason he's there is his bro!

Anonymous said...

Flaherty has a new nickname...."Mr. Mendoza!"