Pitcher Mike Baumann made his major league debut in 2021 and it was a rocky start. He made four appearances that totaled 10 innings with 11 earned runs. Even with that rude introduction to the majors, Baumann was expected to contribute in 2022 as one of the team’s solid pitching prospects. Did he? Ehhh.
Drafted in the third round of the 2017 draft out of Jacksonville University, Baumann comes by his nickname of Big Mike honestly. He checks in at 6’4” and 235 pounds with a fastball that averages just over 95 mph. He has the look of a big league power potential, but we’re still waiting to see if he has the goods.
Going into the 2022 season, Baumann was ranked by FanGraphs as the #22 prospect on the Orioles and the composite ranking here at Camden Chat ranked him quite a bit higher at #13. After an abbreviated spring training, Baumann made the team for Opening Day as a planned long reliever.
That’s how he spent the month of April, where he consistently gave up runs in his appearances. One never felt confident to see him coming out of the bullpen, and for good reason. In five April appearances, he gave up runs in all but one and pitched to an ERA of 6.14.
When it was time for prospect Kyle Bradish to make his debut on April 29th, someone had to go. That someone was Baumann, who spent most of the next four months with Triple-A Norfolk.
Why did he stay down there so long? Well, it’s because he wasn’t that great down there, either. He started off pitching in relief with the Tides just as he had for the Orioles in April and, much as he did for the Orioles, he gave up a ton of runs. He never completely blew up, but just consistently allowed runs in almost every outing. That’s not going to get you back to the majors, Big Mike!
After a very brief stint with the Orioles in June where he had a scoreless one-inning outing against the Blue Jays, Baumann was sent back to the Tides. Only he didn’t go back to the bullpen, He went into the rotation. He had been pitching in 1-2 inning stints for most of the year, so he slowly stretched out with mixed results.
Then, on August 31st, Baumann had the finest outing of the season. Against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Baumann pitched six shutout innings with 13(!) strikeouts. That is very good! His reward? A promotion to the Orioles when rosters expanded on September 1st.
As we all remember, September was a rough month for the Orioles. It was also a rough month for Baumann. Given the chance to prove himself as a big leaguer, he failed...sort of. He made six appearances, four of which were starts, and they were just blah. That’s a technical term.
Baumann’s final start of the year was in game one of the last day doubleheader against the Blue Jays, and while the Orioles won, it wasn’t great. He gave up four runs in 5.1 innings and allowed just a ton of baserunners. It wasn’t a great last look to give the team you want to break camp with in 2023.
With the Orioles in 2022, Baumann pitched to a 4.78 ERA in 13 games. He had a high walk rate at 2.4 per nine innings and a pedestrian strike out rate at 6.0. He also had a very high WHIP of 1.515 and gave up whopping 11.3 hits per nine.
His stats with Norfolk weren’t much better with a 4.20 ERA and an even higher walk rate.
Baumann has one minor league option left so expect to see him either in the bullpen or at Norfolk to start the 2023 season. Honestly, a 2023 that looks like a lot like 2022 is my prediction. There is always a need for bulk relief and how much more time Baumann sees in Baltimore is up to him.
Based on what we’ve seen so far, it’s hard to imagine a future for Baumann that is anything more than being an up-and-down guy in 2023 followed by being either passed through waivers to spend more time at Norfolk, or possibly claimed on waivers by a team that hopes they can do better with the large-framed baseball man.
I sure hope he proves me wrong.
Previously: Fallen prospect roundup, Jean Pinto, Darell Hernaiz, Drew Rom, international prospect roundup, César Prieto
Tomorrow: Hudson Haskin