All the trade deadline rumors surrounding the Baltimore Orioles seemed to be focused around selling. Zach Britton and Brad Brach are hot commodities, while Seth Smith has been rumored to be receiving some interest as well.
So, six-and-a-half games out of the final wild card spot and amid a three-game losing streak, the Orioles did what any team would do. The became buyers, adding Jeremy Hellickson from the Phillies.
The Orioles starting rotation is a mess. The team’s 5.15 ERA is second-worst in all of baseball, and the worst in the American League. The 30-year-old righty is an upgrade in that regard as his 4.73 ERA is already one of the best in the rotation.
That said, giving up players and a prospect of any nature at this juncture for the Orioles seems bizarre, but one must assume they have a plan. Along with much-needed international signing bonus money, the Orioles sent Garrett Cleavinger and Hyun Soo Kim to Philadelphia.
GARRETT CLEAVINGER, LHP
John Sickels ranked Cleavinger the eighth-best prospect in the Orioles farm system entering the 2017 season. The Orioles system wasn’t very deep to begin with — and Cleavinger was a C+ prospect at that — so take it for what it’s worth. Here’s what John said:
Age 22, third round pick in 2015 from University of Oregon; posted 3.07 ERA with 102/34 K/BB in 76 innings between Low-A and High-A; fastball up to 96 along with a deceptive delivery and a quality curveball make him overpowering; command inconsistent and lack of a change-up makes him a reliever, albeit a high-leverage one who could close if his command sharpens up a bit. ETA late 2018.
Not much has changed since John’s preseason assessment. Cleavinger was pitching in Bowie of Double-A when traded. His numbers weren’t strong by any means, posting a 6.28 ERA, 1.58 WHIP and a .245 batting average against. While a 4.51 FIP shows he’s been a bit unlucky, much of that luck has been self imposed. With a BABIP of only .304, most of the runners on base are from Cleavinger walks, as he is walking a staggering 5.35-per-nine.
The lefty is bulky and awkward which may be what leads to the command issues. Now 23, Cleavinger still seems a bit away from the big leagues and has clearly pitched himself into a middle-relief role. It will be interesting to see how he progresses, but to get bullpen depth for an aging pitcher not in future plans for the flailing Phillies seems worth the chance.
HYUN SOO KIM, OF
Kim is no prospect in years, that’s for sure. The 29-year-old left-handed hitter was signed to a two-year, $7-million deal out of South Korea entering the 2016 season. He put up fantastic numbers in his 10-year career across seas. Kim’s slash line was .318/.406/.488 in 4,768 plate appearances in the Korean Baseball Organization. He drilled 142 home runs and 230 doubles, posting a remarkable 501-to-597 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
The then-28 year old spent little time in the minors. Just seven games to be precise. He then went to Baltimore where he turned in a fine rookie campaign, slashing .302/.382/.420 with six home runs and 16 doubles in 346 plate appearances. He showed off his solid strike zone awareness striking out 51 times (15 percent of the time) and walking 36 times (10 percent of the time).
The problem was he couldn’t hit lefties. The Orioles didn’t even attempt to let him, giving him just 22 plate appearances against them. Relegated to a strict-platoon/ pinch-hitting role, and paired with the offseason acquisition of Seth Smith, Kim’s days were seemingly numbered in Baltimore to begin with this year. His numbers were way down, but at least he got his first career hit against a lefty.
He won’t be much more than a pinch hitter and platoon outfielder for a very young Phillies team. He could even report to Lehigh Valley and spend time in Triple-A as the Phillies prepare to hand the team over to one of the elite farm systems in the business. Still, Kim provides an intriguing pinch-hit bat off the bench and some system depth.