No. 9 prospect Povich to make MLB debut on Thursday

June 6th, 2024

TORONTO -- For the second time in a span of four days, a top Orioles prospect will be making his MLB debut at Rogers Centre in Toronto.

Following Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the Blue Jays, manager Brandon Hyde announced that left-hander will have his contract selected from Triple-A Norfolk to start Thursday afternoon’s series finale. It will be the first big league outing for the 24-year-old southpaw, who is Baltimore’s No. 9 prospect per MLB Pipeline.

“We’re excited to watch him,” Hyde said.

Povich arrived in Toronto on Wednesday and joined the Orioles’ taxi squad while the team was still undecided on its Thursday starter. However, Hyde noted earlier this week that it was a possibility right-hander Kyle Bradish, who would have been on turn to start Thursday, could be given an extra day or two of rest this turn through the rotation.

That is what Baltimore has opted to do, as Povich will join a 26-man roster also featuring infielder Connor Norby (the Orioles’ No. 6 prospect), who debuted in Monday’s series opener and homered for his first big league hit on Tuesday.

Acquired from the Twins in the Jorge López trade in August 2022, Povich has impressed since joining Baltimore’s Minor League system. He owns a 3.18 ERA in 11 starts this season, racking up 75 strikeouts and issuing 21 walks in 56 2/3 innings, though he had a 2.35 ERA through his first 10 outings of the year before allowing six runs in three innings vs. Triple-A Gwinnett in his most recent outing on Saturday.

The early-season success has been a continuation of Povich’s impressive performance during Spring Training, when he posted a 1.29 ERA over three Grapefruit League outings and also routinely flashed stellar stuff on the back fields.

"He threw the ball great for us in spring. I thought it was huge strides from the year before," Hyde said. "It's great stuff. It's all about command and strikes with him, and it's something we talked about when we sent him out at the end of camp, was just really want to minimize walks, try to get hitters out early in the count, because the stuff really plays. He's done that in Triple-A."

Last Friday, general manager Mike Elias said he and members of the Orioles’ front office had Povich’s name “on the tip of our tongues right now.” The lefty -- who has a five-pitch mix featuring a four-seam fastball, a cutter, a sweeper, a curveball and a changeup -- had been earning strong consideration for a big league call-up.

"We are watching every little thing he does, and as we enter this stretch now, with all of these games coming up with no off-days, we’ve had internal dialogue about six-mans for stretches and things like that," Elias said. "He’s put himself in an excellent position, and it hasn't escaped our attention. And we're going to need a lot of pitching here coming up within the stretch."

Baltimore is amid a stretch of 30 games in 31 days, with its only off-day of the month coming on June 17, so this also seemed like an opportune time for Bradish to get a bit of a breather.

After opening the season on the injured list with a right UCL sprain, Bradish recorded a 1.75 ERA over his first five starts of the year, which included seven hitless innings vs. the White Sox in Chicago on May 26. However, he struggled last time out, allowing five runs over 2 2/3 innings against the Rays on Saturday.

When asked if Bradish will start this weekend vs. Tampa Bay -- the O’s open a four-game set at Tropicana Field on Thursday -- Hyde was noncommittal.

“I don’t know,” Hyde said. “We’re still evaluating everything.”

Povich is entering the mix for an Orioles rotation that has thrived despite having five starters spend time on the injured list this season, including both left-hander John Means (Tommy John surgery) and righty Tyler Wells (imminent UCL surgery), who are both out for the season.

Although banged up, Baltimore owns a 3.24 rotation ERA that ranks third in MLB behind only the Yankees (2.79) and Phillies (2.92).

“We’re getting through a lot, especially with the two guys down,” said right-hander Albert Suárez, who allowed two runs in five innings in Wednesday’s loss. “But I feel like if we stay positive and just keep working hard, we’re going to get through this.”

It should only help adding Povich, another talented youngster coming through the O’s pipeline.