Notes: McKenna makes MLB debut vs. Yanks

Kremer OK after comebacker; Orioles name alternate training site roster, Kjerstad left off

April 7th, 2021

NEW YORK -- Outfielder Ryan McKenna, the 15th-best prospect in the Orioles’ farm system according to MLB Pipeline, made his Major League debut in Monday's 7-0 loss to the Yankees, going 0-for-2 with one walk.

One can imagine the excitement level that McKenna was going through at Yankee Stadium. His parents and brother were in attendance.

“I tried to do as best as I could to control the emotions,” McKenna said. “I was actually proud of the way I composed myself. Yankee Stadium is a pretty cool place to make your debut. I was definitely excited. My family was able to come up and enjoy the experience.”

It was McKenna’s first regular-season game since 2019 because of the coronavirus pandemic, but he believes his game improved by going to the Orioles’ alternate training site in '20, having a great offseason and being part of the Major League club during Spring Training.

“I was really trying to hone in on a lot of the stuff offensively,” McKenna said. “The alternate [training] site was a huge help to get those reps and at-bats and try to apply some of the stuff that I had been working on during the winter. I had a pretty good Spring Training. I kept building off from what I have been working on.

“It felt good to finally get a regular-season game in. It was awesome that the fans were there. It felt good being back on the field.”

McKenna is one of three members -- Rule 5 Draft pitchers Tyler Wells and Mac Sceroler being the others -- of the Orioles to make their Major League debut this season. It’s a sign that Baltimore is trying to be a young team, according to manager Brandon Hyde.

“We are young and our organization is growing,” Hyde said. “We are going to be getting players to the big leagues. The first couple of years we had a lot of players that didn’t have Major League experience, but they came from other organizations either through the waiver wire or trades.

“But now, we are getting guys graduated from our organization and that is exciting. We have Dean Kremer and Zim [Bruce Zimmermann] in our rotation. … We are going to continue to be young. It’s where we are right now. It’s exciting to watch young players.”

Kremer’s leg is OK
The Orioles received a scare in the first inning of Tuesday's 7-2 loss to the Yankees, when Yanks right fielder Aaron Judge hit a line drive that hit right-hander Dean Kremer on the back part of his left leg. The ball was clocked at 109 mph off the bat.

Kremer was walking gingerly at first, but he remained in the game and showed how much fight he had on the mound.

Before anyone knew it, the Yankees had the bases loaded with no outs in the first, but Kremer struck out the side to end the threat.

“I stuck with the game plan of how we were going to be attacking the guys and was getting over the fact that I just got hit by a comebacker,” Kremer said. “I just got to stay sharp mentally.”

After allowing a home run to Jay Bruce to start second inning, Kremer held the Yankees scoreless the next two innings, but then he ran out of gas by walking the first three hitters he faced in the fourth before he was taken out of the game. Kremer threw 85 pitches.

“He escaped trouble in the first inning. He took a line drive off the hamstring. He battled through that -- put up a zero that inning,” Hyde said. “He threw a lot of pitches the first few innings.”

Worth noting
The Orioles named their roster for the alternate training site at Double-A Bowie. but it does not include outfielder Heston Kjerstad, the team’s 2020 first-round Draft pick and No. 3 prospect per MLB Pipeline. The team did not say where Kjerstad will start the season.