2018 Level: A/A+
Current/Future/Ceiling Grades: 25/45/50
What we know:
Baumann had a strong performance in short season A ball after being drafted in the 3rd round out of Jacksonville University in 2017. This year he was given a conservative assignment to Low A Delmarva where he thrived, striking out over 11 batters per 9 innings and running a 1.42 ERA over 7 starts. He earned a promotion to High A Frederick and while he compiled a respectable 3.88 ERA, cracks in his game began to show. Baumann’s below average command began to negatively affect his performance as hitters began to let pitches off the plate go. This led to many long counts and some grooved fastballs. His fastball sits 91-93mph, touching 95 at times. It’s a high spin 4S pitch, and it has significant ride up in the zone, but flattens out down in the zone. In High A, he struggled to put hitters away. The quality of his slider (79-83), which was plus at times in 2017 backed up and he still had trouble throwing it for strikes. His below average changeup and curveball didn’t improve either. He lacks an out pitch and while he limits hard contact, hitters began to find the barrel against him in High A as he got predictable when he fell behind in counts.
What we don’t know:
Will the offspeed stuff improve? He has four pitches, but only two quality pitches and he can only throw the fastball for strikes. Will the command improve? He has a long arm circle which probably contributes to the command issues, but otherwise the delivery is relatively low effort and repeatable. So, I’d think there is some improvement to be had, I was expecting to see it this year, but there was a disappointing lack of growth. If moved to the bullpen, will the velocity increase? I’d imagine he’d see a few more ticks in short stints, which he’d need to profile as anything more than bullpen depth.
What we think:
Despite the prototypical starters frame and four pitch mix, we think he’s a bullpen arm. He has a chance to be a good one if he can tighten the command and secondaries. The Orioles will likely try him as a starter for one more season, but the lack of a pitch to get lefties out and lackluster command will likely force him to a bullpen role. Once he moves to the pen, it should allow his already quality fastball to be a plus pitch in the mid-90s with bat-missing ride. It’ll also let him simplify his arsenal and just focus on tightening up his slider as an out pitch. There is some grey area between his slider and curveball, so just picking the better of the two should help with his feel for it. There is backend rotation upside if 2018’s lack of development was just a one-off. With better command and a better changeup, you could imagine him eating innings.
Written By Luke Siler