Holliday isn't the only prospect turning heads at O's camp

Povich, Mayo impress in Baltimore's split-squad game vs. Tampa Bay

February 26th, 2024

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Once again this year, Orioles Spring Training is flush with talented prospects.

Much of the early attention has been on MLB Pipeline’s No. 1 overall prospect, Jackson Holliday, who went 0-for-2 with a walk in Baltimore’s 2-1 split-squad win vs. Atlanta on Monday afternoon in North Port. It makes sense he’s garnering a lot of interest, as he’s a 20-year-old phenom trying to break camp with the O’s.

But Holliday isn’t the only youngster who has never experienced the big leagues standing out early in Spring Training. Several others had impressive performances Monday in Sarasota.

(the Orioles’ No. 10 prospect) tossed two scoreless innings, (MLB’s No. 30 prospect) continued his hot spring start with two more hits and (O’s No. 18) went three scoreless frames in Baltimore’s 8-3 split-squad loss to Tampa Bay at Ed Smith Stadium.

“These situations, the Graysons [Rodriguez] and the Gunnars [Henderson] and all those guys that we were watching two years ago, now they’re on the Major League club, it’s now Mayo, and we’ll get [Connor] Norby,” said bench coach Fredi González, who managed the split squad in Sarasota. “It’s kind of fun to keep an eye on.”

The afternoon began with a strong showing by Povich. The 23-year-old left-hander navigated a 21-pitch first inning, working around a pair of one-out walks and striking out Jose Siri to end the frame. Povich gave up an infield single to Richie Palacios to open the second before striking out Niko Hulsizer and getting Rob Brantly to ground into a double play.

Eleven of Povich’s first 15 pitches were balls. After a mound visit from catcher Adley Rutschman, Povich threw 12 of his final 16 pitches for strikes.

Strike-throwing is the key to Povich’s success, but it was a bit of an issue for him in 2023. He racked up 171 strikeouts in 126 2/3 innings between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk -- an average of 12.2 K’s per nine innings -- but he also had 66 walks, an average of 4.7 per nine innings.

“My stuff’s good enough. I know that,” Povich said. “I’ve just got to work over the plate, kind of be myself and not try and play stuff. Just throw it over the plate, let every pitch eat.”

Povich believes the walks occur when he’s “trying to be a little too perfect.” When he relaxes, he can consistently throw strikes. His Minor League teammates have seen it happen.

“Whenever he has his stuff and he can fill up the zone, he’s unhittable,” Mayo said.

Meanwhile, no pitcher who has faced Mayo early this spring has been unhittable. The 22-year-old third baseman is 3-for-4 through three Grapefruit League games and has reached base in six of his seven plate appearances.

Prospects like Povich and Mayo (who are both in big league camp with the Orioles for the second time) are outsiders on the roster bubble. They’re not on the 40-man roster, and they would need to force their way into the club’s plans for Opening Day.

They’re going to do their best to try to give Baltimore some tough decisions to make before the final day of camp.

“You’ve just got to go out there and have a day like today where you just have good at-bats, and you can only do what you can control,” Mayo said. “I think it’s just a great battle between a bunch of good prospects and a bunch of great players.”

More Monday highlights
• Jordan Westburg swatted his first home run of the spring in the win over Atlanta. The 25-year-old infielder belted a fourth-inning solo shot off right-hander Reynaldo López.

• Kyle Stowers also went deep for the first time this spring in North Port. The 26-year-old outfielder, who is an early dark horse candidate to break camp with the O’s, delivered a left-on-left blast against southpaw Dylan Lee in the seventh.

• Tyler Nevin continued his hot start to the spring with a two-run homer off Rays righty Trevor Martin in the second inning in Sarasota. Nevin, who returned to the organization in January, is 4-for-6 through three Grapefruit League games. The 26-year-old infielder previously played for Baltimore from 2021-22.