Orioles impressed by Povich despite uneven debut

June 6th, 2024

TORONTO -- On the fourth day of his MLB career, was joined in the visitors’ clubhouse at Rogers Centre by a fellow Orioles prospect called up to the big leagues for the first time -- .

Having been Triple-A Norfolk teammates as recently as Sunday, Norby (O’s No. 6 prospect per MLB Pipeline) provided the inside scoop on the type of pitcher Baltimore has added to its staff in the left-handed Povich (No. 9).

“Stud,” Norby said. “That’s what the scouting report is: Stud, good stuff.”

There were glimpses of that during Povich’s 100-pitch MLB debut Thursday afternoon in Toronto.

The 24-year-old began his big league tenure with a strikeout of Davis Schneider, retiring seven of the Blue Jays’ first eight batters. However, Povich was charged with six runs allowed -- half of them coming on the first hit he gave up, a Vladimir Guerrero Jr. three-run homer in the third -- over 5 1/3 innings in the Orioles’ 6-5 loss in the finale of a four-game series.

Even if Povich’s final line wasn’t quite what he envisioned, it was a day he’ll never forget.

“There were definitely some nerves. There wasn’t a lot of sleep the last couple of days. Tough to eat this morning,” Povich said. “But it’s a great experience, and I’ve been told by a bunch of guys to just slow it down and really try to take it all in because this only happens once.

“So I definitely stepped back and tried to keep breathing and tried to make sure I looked around as much as possible and just take everything in.”

Povich positioned himself for a promotion to the big leagues with improved results in Triple-A this season. Last year, he reached the level for the first time and recorded a 5.36 ERA with 29 walks in 45 1/3 innings. This season, he posted a 3.18 ERA and cut down on walks, issuing only 21 over 56 2/3 frames.

That’s why Povich called it “uncharacteristic” for him to walk four Blue Jays batters, two of which came shortly before Guerrero’s homer. Povich tried to throw a backdoor cutter in a 1-0 count, and Guerrero muscled it over the right-field wall.

But Povich regrouped and pitched into the sixth, with his final two runs allowed coming following his departure on a two-out single by Ernie Clement off right-hander Dillon Tate.

“I thought he threw the ball great,” manager Brandon Hyde said of Povich. “Good fastball. I liked his cutter. I liked the poise on the mound.”

The skipper wasn’t the only one who came away impressed.

“This isn’t an easy place to go on the road and make your debut,” catcher James McCann said. “He came into the meetings, he knew how he wanted to attack hitters, he had done his homework. I’ll give him a lot of credit for that. He had his notes, and he was ready with how he thought his stuff was going to play, and he was dead-on.”

“I thought he looked like a real veteran out there, super composed,” added Adley Rutschman, who swatted a pair of home runs.

It feels like impressive young players are making debuts for the Orioles all the time these days, a credit to the Draft success and player development by general manager Mike Elias and his front office. Two more arrived this week in Toronto, with Norby on Monday and Povich on Thursday.

Rutschman, who debuted a little more than two years ago, enjoys seeing the influx of talent in Baltimore, which is set up well for continued success in both the near- and long-term future.

“It’s such a special moment, and to witness that, you can feel all the emotions and stuff that they’re going through,” Rutschman said. “It’s so cool to see.”

Following Thursday’s game, Povich exited the clubhouse and was greeted by the 14 members of his friends and family who traveled north, including his parents, Tim and Kelli. They gave the lefty a loud ovation and a lot of hugs, before taking pictures to commemorate the day.

The Orioles haven’t announced any of their imminent pitching plans. But they could keep Povich around to have six starters to help navigate a difficult stretch of 30 games in 31 days that culminates at the end of June.

Povich will be ready to go whenever he’s handed the ball again. Whether that comes next week or farther down the line, he’ll now forever be a big leaguer after etching his debut performance into the MLB logs.

“It’s something I dreamed of as a kid, this happening. Obviously, some stuff did not go my way [today],” Povich said. “But overall, on the day, it’s an awesome treat and something I’m going to be proud of. It’s a dream come true.”