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Orioles hire two former pitchers to bolster bench staff

Orioles hire two former pitchers to bolster bench staff

On Tuesday, the Baltimore Orioles announced former pitchers Roger McDowell and Alan Mills will be joining the team for the upcoming season. McDowell will be the Orioles new pitching coach and Mills will coach the bullpen.

Replacing Dave Wallace, who retired from major league coaching at the end of the season, McDowell spent the past 11 years as the Atlanta Braves pitching coach. While in Atlanta he oversaw the development of All-Stars Craig Kimbrel and Julio Teheran.

Before his coaching days, he played in the league for 11 seasons as a reliever with a 3.30 ERA and 129 career saves. His last career stop was in Baltimore.

Mills has been a member of the Orioles organization for five seasons, his most recent assignment being in Bowie. There, he served as the pitching coach for the past two seasons. 

Both players are former Orioles even played with each other in 1996. A majority of Mills 12 year career was with Baltimore, in the team's bullpen. 

Last season, Baltimore's pitching staff averaged a 4.22 ERA (19th in MLB).

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Three Orioles prospects ranked in Baseball America's Top 50 prospects

Three Orioles prospects ranked in Baseball America's Top 50 prospects

Three Baltimore Orioles prospects placed in the Top-50 of Baseball America's 2020 Top 100 Prospects list: Adley Rutschman, Grayson Rodriguez and D.L. Hall. 

The first overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, catcher Adley Rutschman placed the highest at the No. 5 ranking. All four players who ranked above Rutschman, including the Ray's Wanter Franco and the White sox's Luis Robert, are estimated at being called up sometime during the 2020 season, while Rutschman likely won't be ready until 2022.

Rutschman was hit with a bout of mononucleosis shortly after the draft, delaying his first professional appearance. Once recovered, Rutschman worked his way to low-Single-A to finish the season with the Delmarva Shorebirds. In 37 combined games Rutschman batted .254 with four home runs and a .423 slugging percentage.

Ranked No. 35 is right-hander Grayson Rodriguez,  who has command on his 93 mph fastball, but his secondary pitches have room to improve. After he was drafted in the first round of the 2018 MLB Draft, Rodriguez moved up to low-Single-A Delmarva at the start of the 2019 season. There, he tossed a 2.68 ERA and held batters to a .171 average in 20 starts (94 innings pitched). He also recorded 129 strikeouts.

Finally, the third Orioles prospect to make the top-50 is left-hander D.L. Hall, coming in at No. 47. Hall's control is lacking, but his fastball averages 95 mph and his curveball has developed over the past year. Drafted in the first round in 2017, Hall has thrown a combined 2.96 ERA in three seasons with the Baltimore organization, including last season with the high-Single-A Frederick Keys.

With the Keys, Hall posted a 3.46 ERA in 19 appearances (17 starts), striking out 116 and holding opponents to a .189 average. He also, however, averaged six walks-per-nine innings with Frederick, proof his control has room to grow. 

The Orioles announced Tuesday that Rutschman is formally invited to Spring Training. Catchers and pitchers report to Baltimore's major-league spring training on Feb. 11.

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Here's when Orioles fans can see top prospect Adley Rutschman in Spring Training

Here's when Orioles fans can see top prospect Adley Rutschman in Spring Training

Orioles fans haven't had much to cheer about the last three seasons, but Adley Rutschman could be the player to rejuvenate the franchise and get them back into the mix in the AL East. 

The Orioles took Rutschman with the first pick in the 2019 MLB Draft and the catching prospect was formally invited to Spring Training, according to Jon Morosi.

There isn't an expectation Rutschman plays in the majors in 2020 since Baltimore probably doesn't want to lose a year of service time on Rutschman in another rebuilding year. So unless O's fans have plans to go to any minor-league games, Spring Training is their best chance to see the prized prospect in person. 

*SS = Split-squad

Feb. 23: vs. Red Sox
Feb. 25: SS vs. Rays
Feb. 26: vs. Braves

Feb. 27: vs. Pirates
Feb. 29 vs. Marlins

Spring Training lineups game-to-game consist of major-league players and a few minor-league guys so the team can see how its depth shakes out. There are some days where teams have two games in one day and go split-squad. Those are the games where O's fans will most likely see Rutschman in action, though there's a chance he could travel for most of those since its common practice for veterans to play the home half of the split-squad games. 

The good news for O's fans, in this case, is that their team doesn't have many established veterans. So here's a layout of the Orioles' home schedule for Spring Training for anyone planning to go down to Sarasota to see Rutschman in action. 

Mar. 2: vs. Rays
Mar. 5: vs. Twins
Mar. 8: SS vs. Yankees
Mar. 10: SS vs. Braves
Mar. 13: vs. Blue Jays
Mar. 14: SS vs. Pirates
Mar. 16: vs. Phillies
Mar. 17: SS vs. Nationals
Mar. 20: SS vs. Red Sox
Mar. 21: SS vs. Twins
Mar. 22: vs. Phillies
Mar. 23: vs. Mets

If you hadn't noticed already, the Orioles have a lot of home games at the end of March right before the start of the regular season. If they decide to rest their major-league players in preparation for the home opener against the Yankees, there's a good chance we see Rutschman get some consistent time behind the plate. 

In what could be another long year ahead for the Orioles, it might be worth getting a glimpse at the future of the franchise when you can. 

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