Yesterday the Baltimore Orioles promoted rookie left-handed pitcher Ashur Tolliver to the major leagues. A long-time Orioles farmhand, Tolliver hasn't had an easy trek through the minors but the 28-year-old's perseverance has been rewarded.
Tolliver was drafted in the fifth round back in 2009 from Oklahoma City University, a respected NAIA program. He threw in the low-90s when drafted but struggled with injuries and missed all of 2012 with shoulder/labrum trouble. When he came back he'd lost his fastball but slowly regained it over the last few years, He posted a 2.91 ERA with a 61/29 K/BB in 59 innings for Double-A Bowie last year and rang up similar numbers this spring, 2.42 with a 25/8 K/BB in 26 frames.
Tolliver is a slightly-built lefty at 6-0, 170, born January 24, 1998 in Little Rock, Arkansas. He's athletic and has a quick arm but scouts worried about his durability even before he got hurt, which ensured he would stay in the bullpen. The good news is that his fastball has returned to pre-injury status in the 90-93 range, peaking at 94-95. He has a very good change-up and throws strikes, but his breaking ball is erratic; sometimes it is quite good, sometimes it just loops up there. His platoon splits are conventional rather than the extreme splits commonly seen for a LOOGY; he has a slight edge against lefties but not a huge one and he has a chance against right-handers when his command is on.
Overall, Tolliver projects as a sixth man in the bullpen or 11th man on a staff, capable of short relief work.
He comments on his call-up and mentions the difficult comeback from labrum surgery.
Quick defensive reactions!