The Orioles may be off on Thursday night, but Dan Duquette never takes a day off in his quest to stock the Orioles 40-man roster with as many marginal upgrades as he possibly can. The sound and the fury, in this instance, is the acquisition of lefty reliever Andrew Faulkner from the Texas Rangers for a player to be named later or cash.
To make room for Faulkner on the 40-man roster, the Orioles released converting-to-pitcher outfielder Dariel Alvarez, who just yesterday was reported to probably need Tommy John surgery. So that’s a bad couple of days there for Alvarez.
Faulkner, 24, was originally picked by the Rangers in the 14th round of the 2011 draft. He worked his way up through the Rangers system as a starting pitcher but by the time he made his MLB debut in 2015, he was pitching as a reliever. Over the previous two seasons, Faulkner appeared in 20 MLB games, combining for a 4.41 ERA and 1.408 WHIP in 16.1 innings.
The Duquette quote bot surfaced to issue some words about Faulkner:
Duquette: "Andrew Faulkner is young and strong and has 2 good ML pitches. We look forward to his contribution to our team" #orioles— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) April 6, 2017
Young and strong ... and down to get the friction on? No?
In all seriousness, Faulkner has been optioned to Triple-A Norfolk where he figures to slot into the bullpen. If he’s lucky, he may see the light in August or September, or perhaps even sooner if the Orioles decide to make use of Donnie Hart having minor league options.
A sample of 33 plate appearances against him at the big league level isn’t much to go on, but Faulkner has held lefty batters to a .167/.242/.200 batting line. Maybe the Orioles think they can do something with that. They might even be right!
Still a rookie despite his big league experience, Faulkner was bringing up the rear of MLB.com’s top 30 Rangers prospects list. He’ll probably slot into the 20s on the Orioles list when they move him over. If there’s a use for him, the Orioles will find it.
The downside of Faulkner is that he suffers from an affliction that I call “walking too many dudes.” At Triple-A Round Rock last year, he walked 20 in 45.1 innings. Duquette is probably not looking forward to that contribution. But the Orioles, for all of their problems with developing starting pitchers, have done pretty well at unearthing useful relievers. Perhaps down the road, Faulkner will be another one of these.