Late last year a minor leaguer named Mychal Givens was promoted into the Baltimore Orioles bullpen. He thrived, posting a 1.80 ERA in 30 innings with a 38/6 K/BB. Still a rookie entering 2016, he holds down a middle relief spot in the Orioles relief corps. Can he take a larger role eventually?
From the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book:
Mychal Givens, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-0 WT: 205 DOB: May 13, 1990
2015: Grade C
Drafted as a shortstop (second round) back in 2009, Givens converted to pitching in 2013 and has performed very well. His control took a dramatic step forward last year and he ended up pitching 30 very effective innings out of the major league pen as a result, though he is still a technical rookie entering 2016. Givens has a nasty power sinker at 92-95 MPH thrown with a low-angle delivery. He’s developed a slider and change-up, both average to plus, and has demonstrated excellent mound presence and unusually good pitching instincts given his lack of experience. Grading relievers is always problematic but I really like what Givens has done and it would not surprise me at all to see him close games eventually. Grade B-.
Givens pitched 11 innings in spring training, giving up two runs (one earned) for an 0.82 ERA with an 11/5 K/BB and nine hits allowed. That was enough to solidify his bullpen spot for Opening Day. Given his excellent track record in the minors since converting to pitching (1.73 ERA in Double-A last year, 79/16 K/BB in 57 innings) he doesn't have much left to prove down there. Under most circumstances the assumption would be that he'll hold his spot all year. However, the Orioles front office is known for their aggressive use of options and roster manipulation tactics so it is possible Givens could see some additional minor league time even if he pitches well in the majors.
With his present balance of skills Givens is an ideal middle reliever. The long-term question: can he close? He does have significant platoon splits: right-handers hit just .169/.213/.342 against him last year, but lefties had more luck at .273/.333/.395. His minor league platoon splits were similar.
I think his stuff is good enough that he is more than a ROOGY but he will need another weapon to shut down lefties more reliably to get a shot at closing. His change-up is his weakest pitch and that seems the logical focus. Given how rapidly Givens has developed on the mound (this is only his fourth year as a pitcher), I would not under-estimate his chances to make the necessary improvements.