Right-handed pitcher David Hess will make his MLB debut today for the Baltimore Orioles. Here’s a quick take on what to expect as Hess takes on Chris Archer and the Tampa Bay Rays.
David Hess was a successful starting pitcher at Tennessee Tech, posting a 3.24 ERA in 97 innings with a 104/34 K/BB in his draft season of 2014. Selected by the Orioles in the fifth round, he performed reasonably well in A-ball in 2015 (3.58, 110/53 in 133 innings) but had problems on reaching Double-A in 2016 (5.37, 85/39 in 127 innings, 162 hits).
He improved on repeating the Eastern League in 2017, with a 3.85 ERA, 123/53 K/BB in 154 innings, 137 hits. I gave Hess a C+ grade pre-season although he fell just outside the Orioles Top 20 Prospects list.
Hess has been strong in 2018 making six starts for Triple-A Norfolk, posting a 2.12 ERA in 29.2 innings with a 29/12 K/BB and 20 hits allowed.
Listed at 6-2, 180, Hess is 24 years old, born July 10th, 1993. He doesn’t have blazing stuff: his fastball sits in the low-90s, working 90-93 most of the time. He will occasionally reach back for a bit more but his delivery is relatively high-effort so it isn’t easy heat for him.
He has a full arsenal of secondaries with a slider, curve, and change-up. None of his pitches are spectacular, but none of them are bad, either; his stuff is average across the board with the slider showing the most potential for improvement. He is primarily a fly ball pitcher and can show some vulnerability to home runs if he makes a location mistake.
While usually not overpowering, Hess can be quite effective on days when his command is sharp. In his last start for Norfolk on May 8th he allowed just one hit in seven innings, walking only one batter with 10 strikeouts.
Overall, Hess profiles as a number four/five starter.
Here’s some very recent Baseball America video.