Twenty-four-year-old RHP Tim Naughton split his 2019 season between both Delmarva and Frederick pitching out of the bullpen for both teams. He also made a single inning cameo appearance in Bowie that I am sure he would like to forget (1 inning, 1 homerun allowed). That inning notwithstanding, his 2019 performance was actually memorable and makes him one to watch in 2020.
Naughton, the Baltimore Orioles 2017 34th round draft pick out of North Carolina State University, entered this past season with a two-season record of 3-6 and 12 saves in 21 opportunities. In a span of 50.0 innings pitched he struck out 54, walked 33 and produced a 4.14 ERA, numbers that are certainly decent but nothing noteworthy.
The 2019 season saw an uptick in Naughton’s performance and that is what has caught my attention. He started in Delmarva where he produced a 3-3 record with 12 saves in 14 opportunities over 22 appearances and 29.0 innings pitched. He also struck out 44 and walked 11 while pitching to a 3.10 ERA for the Shorebirds.
As a result of that performance, the organization awarded Naughton with a June promotion to Frederick where he continued to put up solid numbers. Over 24 appearances for the Keys the 6’ 3” righty pitched 21.2 innings to a 0-1 record, 8 saves out of 10 opportunities and a 2.08 ERA. Additionally, he struck out 30 batters while walking 17.
— Delmarva Shorebirds (@shorebirds) June 21, 2019
Combining all three 2019 pitching lines, Naughton finished the season with a 3-4 record, a 2.79 ERA, 20 saves (24 opportunities), 74 strikeouts and 28 walks over 51.2 total innings pitched. What stands out to me is the improvement in both strikeouts and walks relative to innings pitched. Entering the season Naughton had 1.08 K/IP and 0.66 BB/IP while in 2019 alone he had 1.43 K/IP and 0.54 BB/IP rate, a 32% and 18% improvement, respectively.
A one-year improvement such as this indicates that there is something to the Mike Elias-Sig Mejdal “secret sauce”, a term Elias used in describing their analytics approach.
Naughton’s 2019 season earned him accolades from MiLB.com as they named him a Baltimore Oriole organizational all-star. He is a pitcher on the rise in my opinion and deserves watching in 2020. For me, he is one to watch; I will follow his progress closely and hope fans will as well.