The Baltimore Orioles are giving fans a glimpse into the future, and it looks pretty bright.
More from Call to the Pen
Orioles fans had to wait a long while to see their team call up any of their top prospects, a trend that seemed to take off in 2020 across the league. But that patience is paying off pretty well right now for Birdland.
Kremer wasn’t the centerpiece of the 2018 Manny Machado trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but there’s a real possibility he becomes the most valuable.
The 2018 minor league strikeout leader, Kremer went 9-4 with a 2.98 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 84 innings in Double-A last season, closing out the year in Triple-A with the Norfolk Tides.
There, Kremer did go 0-2 with an 8.84 ERA, but he struck out 21 and walked only four across 19.1 innings, showcasing exactly why the Orioles are so high on the righty who will become the first Israeli citizen to make the major leagues.
Armed with a four-pitch mix, including a very impressive curveball and fastball that he can run up to 96 mph, Kremer has the makeup to develop into a reliable starting rotation pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles, something this team is in desperate need of.
Kremer joins fellow Top 25 prospect Keegan Akin in the Orioles rotation as they become part of the first wave of intriguing prospects to make their big league debuts.
Akin is coming off his second career start where he outdueled New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole on Saturday night. Akin tossed 5.1 scoreless innings, striking out eight en route to an Orioles victory, their second-straight over the Yankees.
Overall, Akin owns a 2.08 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and a 174 average against through his first four outings. The 2019 International League strikeout leader is also sitting down 28% of batters he faces via the strikeout, thanks in large part to a swing and miss changeup that he worked hard on developing in Triple-A last season to go with his fastball and slider, which were already major league quality pitches.
Combine these two arms with the early performance of Ryan Mountcastle and Baltimore Orioles fans can’t help but to be excited. The shortstop turned third baseman turned first baseman turned left fielder is slashing .347/.407/..571 with three home runs and 10 RBI in his first 14 games.
Not only is he showcasing his power at the plate, but last year’s International League MVP is also already beginning to settle in at the plate, take what pitchers are giving him, and shooting singles the opposite way to get on base.
His current 9.3% walk rate might be the most shocking number to date. One of Mountcastle’s biggest weaknesses coming up through the system was his inability to draw a walk. He’s quickly reversing that trend now that he’s in a Baltimore Orioles uniform.
The Orioles may not be done adding top prospects to their active roster this year. With Anthony Santander and Austin Hays both on the injured list, fans may get the opportunity to see the centerpiece of that Machado trade, outfielder Yusniel Diaz, before the end of the season.
Regardless, the Baltimore Orioles are finally allowing their top, MLB-ready, prospects to play on the big stage and the very early results are promising. Now, just wait until the big dogs, like Adley Rutschman and Grayson Rodriguez join the show. Keep the faith, Birdland.