Joe Gunkel is not the kind of prospect that gets most people excited. Drafted by the Red Sox in the 18th round of the 2013 amateur draft, he came to the Orioles during the 2015 season in the trade that send Alejandro De Aza to Boston.
In 17 starts for the double-A Bowie Baysox in 2015, The Gunk (as I like to call him) pitched to a 2.59 ERA in 17 starts. He returned to Bowie to start 2016 and after four starts good-ish starts he was moved up to triple-A Norfolk where he spent the rest of the season.
Gunkel’s time at triple-A was...pedestrian. He pitched to a 4.08 ERA over 24 starts, averaging just under six innings per start. That’s not so great, but not a complete disaster either.
Gunkel’s repertoire is not the most exciting. He throws a low 90s fastball and, per John Sickels, has good control and a good slider. But he gives up a lot of hits and with basically a full season at triple-A his strikeout rate was only 6 per nine innings pitched.
MLB.com ranks Gunkel as the Orioles’ 26th best prospect and Sickels rates him as a C prospect. He is not currently on the 40-man roster but will have to be added this off season if the Orioles wish to protect him from the Rule 5 draft this winter.
I probably sound a little down on The Gunk, and that’s not my intention. It’s very possible that he’ll provide value at the major league level. If he had been on the 40-man roster this season it’s likely we would have seen him up for a spot start here and there. I mean, if they can give Mike Wright a chance, surely Gunkel will get his opportunity to make an impact.
I expect that the Orioles will add Gunkel to the 40-man roster and that he’ll start 2017 back at triple-A, but on the short list to be called up if needed. After that, we’ll see what he can do at the major league level.