Throughout the season, Orioles Nation will highlight prospects as we see them play or are given reports by Scouts and people within the baseball industry. Our staff will have eyes on the Orioles’ prospects at all times, and you can find the latest updates for them in the Prospect Watch.
Parker Bridwell – RHP
The Texan has received some interesting grades and reports over the past few years. While it was always known that Bridwell would take some time for everything to click, it has probably taken a little longer than most talent evaluators would have hoped for. I have seen him flash the goods before, but consistency is the name of the game. Bridwell throws fives pitches (four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, slider, curveball and change up). He has a plus fastball with plus movement sitting at 91-94 mph. He also shows off a potential solid-average curve with good tilt. The slider and change are also formidable pitches. Truth be told, there is not one pitch in his arsenal that I do not like. I think his arsenal is full of legitimate swing and miss stuff. But he struggled yet again in 2013, posting mediocre numbers except the excellent SO/9 (9.1). All these struggles primarily come down to a simple dilemma – Command and Control. A pitcher needs one or the other, and it sure does not hurt to have a little bit of both (or a lot). A lot of this often comes down to mechanical issues.
Why do I bring up Bridwell now? He has apparently improved his command significantly this off-season, per reports given to me. Players do not stop working in the off-season, and I believe it is as equally important to work on mechanical aspects of the game when you have the free time (such as now). The Orioles have tried various tactics with Bridwell over the past two years. They have forced him to throw certain pitches in certain counts, taken away pitches for an inning or situation, and even flat out eliminated a pitch for an entire game. That stuff does not work with everyone, and it brings up the old saying “you can’t put a square peg in a round hole”. I think Bridwell has learned a lot about himself in the past two years, and with that he has all the tools ready to turn the corner. So hearing that he has improved his command drastically is terrific. It remains to be seen how much of this is truly feasible once the season starts, but it is not an unrealistic notion.
One final note on him – A source within the industry told me that they would not be surprised to see Bridwell start the year in Bowie after a strong Spring Training. I think that may be entirely too steep, but crazier things have happened in the game of baseball. If you have written off Bridwell already, maybe it is time to pull out the eraser and wipe off that X you slotted over his name. Remember, Bridwell is heading into his final season before he is eligible for the Rule 5 draft. This is a big year for the Texan.