Harvey Suffers Setback, Wilson and Wright Make Roster
The Baltimore Orioles might have hit a point of uncertainty earlier this week, when top prospect Hunter Harvey was removed from his start on Tuesday because of an injury. Reports later surfaced that the young right-hander was removed because of a groin strain, with a Thursday report from MASN’s Roch Kubatko indicating that Harvey “felt better this morning when he reported to camp.”
What remains uncertain at this time is Harvey’s timetable. Up until the injury, it appeared that he would open this season with one of the Orioles’ minor league squads—likely High-A Frederick—marking his first regular season action since 2014. However, Kubatko noted that the Orioles “are obviously being careful with their top prospect” and all other reports point to the same strategy.
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The reasons for protecting Harvey are obvious. Even after missing all of last year, he remains the club’s top pitching prospect and, given that he just turned 21, does not profile as someone who should be rushed to the majors.
Still, it would be encouraging to see Harvey on a roster by Opening Day or shortly thereafter. As I noted before spring training began, his return is vital to the Orioles as they try to turn their farm system around. He has the highest ceiling of any pitching prospect, and a healthy season would go a long way to building his case as one of best pitchers in the minors.
More details should come out on Harvey’s status over the next few days—minor league rosters will likely be announced in the days leading up to Opening Day on Thursday—but hopefully for him and the Orioles, the latest ailment will not prove to be a major setback.
As the Orioles await a definite answer on Harvey, they have made major decisions regarding prospects Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson, both of whom will begin this season in the majors. Wright will begin the season as the rotation’s fourth starter, while Wilson will start in the bullpen but will likely be slotted into the fifth rotation spot. With their first off day scheduled for Tuesday, the Orioles will not need to use a fifth starter until their April 10 contest against Tampa Bay.
The reasons that Wright and Wilson made the roster are fairly clear. For starters, both pitchers earned it, with Wright fanning 17 batters over 20 2/3 innings pitched, while Wilson walked just one batter over 17 1/3 frames. Some other circumstances came into play, mainly Kevin Gausman’s injury and Miguel Gonzalez’s lackluster performance that led to the Orioles placing him on release waivers.
Going forward, both pitchers will have to build off of their strong springs to silence doubts that have surrounded their viability as major league starters. Many observers have felt that the hard-throwing Wright profiles better in the bullpen, especially if he fails to hone his secondary offerings. He has a solid track record in the minors as a starter, but he was hit hard over his 12-game stint in Baltimore last season, posting a 6.04 ERA.
Wilson, meanwhile, has typically flashed excellent command, but does not offer the premium velocity that generates swings and misses. That has led some to believe that he might best profile as the fifth starter or long-relief option, with most of his success hinging upon his ability to generate weak contact.
With the uncertainties surrounding their rotation, it would be a relief for the Orioles to have one or both of these pitchers succeed early in the year. It would help keep the team’s rotation afloat and reverse the club’s recent struggles with developing homegrown starters.
A graduate of the University of Massachusetts, and Loyola University; Spedden has previously spent time in the Washington Nationals organization as a videographer for the Hagerstown Suns. As a blogger, Spedden is an Editor / Writer for the Suns fan club. Additionally, he contributes to The Nats Blog as a prospect writer, and Ballpark Digest. For BSL, Spedden covers the Orioles Minor Leagues.