Originally drafted as a starter out of Saint Mary’s in 2007, Sean Gleason’s switch to the bullpen has given his prospect status new life. Gleason spent his first three seasons as an Orioles as a starter, but 10 rough 2009 starts at Bowie made it clear he was a reliever going forward, and the Orioles moved him to the bullpen the following season.
Gleason immediately made it clear that his move to the bullpen was a smart decision. In 2010, he dominated his competition in 65.2 innings between Frederick and Bowie, where he struck out 65 hitters, walked just 15, and gave up just 2 home runs.
Despite his 2010 success at Bowie, Gleason opened 2011 as a Frederick Key. His 2011 performance wasn’t quite up to par with 2010, but he put up solid numbers with the Keys — 7.9 H/9; 11 K/9 — and the Orioles felt confident enough to challenge him with a direct promotion to Norfolk.
Gleason was sent to the AFL after the 2011 regular season, and struggled in what is a hitters’ league. Opposing hitters racked up 35 hits in his 13 IP, which is good for a .507 batting average. He pitched to a 16.62 ERA.
Don: After seeing Gleason in two different locations, and two completely different situations, I saw some ray of light that shows he could become a two pitch late bloomer. It really is about taking what you already have and improving its consistency.
Hitters have a tough time squaring up on his two-seamer and it would greatly benefit him to use a healthy dose of them in games. His secondary offering of choice is his slider, which shows some promise with dual plane dip at its best.
Gleason’s changeup shows some split finger type action, but it could be a straight change. Either way, I really liked the depth that I saw and it is something that could make him successful in a smaller park.
Gleason already lives on the inner half of the plate, has the arm speed you cannot teach, and works strikes early in the count. These are all big pluses that make you an effective option out of a bullpen.
In order to make the next step and reach the majors, Gleason must improve his ability to mix sequences, consistently throw off-speed pitches for strikes, and work the ball lower in the zone. Next season he must further improve his slider, tighten his command, and improve his control. His ability to make that second pitch (slider) work off of the fastball will dictate his baseball ceiling.
He should open 2012 as a member of the Norfolk Tides’ open and a solid performance could push him to the majors at some point during the season.