O's call up Md. native Zimmermann for start

September 18th, 2020

The Orioles squeezed one more big league debut into the 2020 season. The club promoted Ellicott City, Md., native and left-handed prospect to start Game 2 of Thursday’s doubleheader against the Rays.

Zimmermann, 25, reached Triple-A Norfolk in 2019 and turned heads in big league camp this spring. He was added to the Orioles' 60-man player pool in August after battling COVID-19 this summer, and he had been training at the club’s alternate training site at Bowie, Md.

A Loyola Blakefield graduate who also pitched collegiately at Towson University, Zimmermann grew up rooting for the Orioles. He was acquired as part of the Kevin Gausman trade with Atlanta in 2018 and has since added 4-6 mph of fastball velocity as he climbed steadily through the Orioles’ Minor League system. Now he becomes the 12th pitcher born in Maryland to start a game for the Orioles, and the first since Steve Johnson in 2012. The others are Ryan Meisinger, Evan Phillips, Dave Johnson, Dave Boswell, Tom Phoebus, Bruce Howard, Steve Barber, John Miller, Jack Fisher and Ray Moore.

The southpaw went 2-3 with a 5.12 ERA in seven starts for Norfolk after pitching to a 2.58 ERA across 18 games (17 starts) for Double-A Bowie last season. He had been a part of Baltimore’s Top 30 prospects per MLB Pipeline prior to this year’s Draft class. He is also the latest in a line of pitching prospects to debut this season, joining No. 15 prospect Keegan Akin and No. 10 Dean Kremer.

“I thought it was a possibility going in that we’d have some young guys here toward the end of this season, and that’s how it’s worked out,” Hyde said. “We’re excited to give them the opportunity to pitch in the big leagues right now and evaluate them.”

Wojciechowski DFA’D
A little more than a week after bouncing him from the rotation, the Orioles on Thursday designated right-hander for assignment. The Orioles now have seven days to trade Wojciechowski, release him or place him on outright waivers.

Purchased from the Indians just before the All-Star break last summer, Wojciechowski was immediately plugged into an Orioles rotation starved for consistency and quality starts. He put together one of the dominant performances of Baltimore's season in his fourth start, striking out 10 over seven-plus innings against Boston. But the long-term returns were more pedestrian; Wojciechowski went 5-11 with a 5.51 ERA over nearly 15 months with the Orioles, mostly in a starting role.

“It was a very, very tough morning because last year he really picked us up,” Hyde said. “We were in dire need of starting pitching. We were having a tough time finishing nine innings on a lot of nights, and Wojo really did a great job of solidifying and helping us out.”

This season, Wojciechowski, 31, routinely struggled to miss bats and pitch deep into games, pitching to a 6.81 ERA. He lost his rotation spot when the Orioles promoted Kremer and was ineffective in long relief, giving up 10 earned runs in 5 2/3 innings. He can remain in the organization if he clears waivers.

Roster moves
The Orioles also summoned reinforcements for Thursday’s doubleheader, recalling right-handed reliever from their alternate site and adding as their 29th man. Kline was then optioned back to the alternate site following Game 1 of the twin bill to make room on the roster for Zimmermann, while Phillips was returned following Game 2.