By Contributing Writer: Chuck Boemmel Jr.
Now a member of the Baltimore Orioles’ 40-man roster, Bowie Baysox (Class-AA) pitcher Jesus Liranzo will be out to prove in 2017 that he is deserving of that spot. The 6’2” right-hander will want to show the Orioles that the confidence they have in him is well-deserved.
Photo: Patrick Cavey
Liranzo was placed on the 40-man roster on November 18, 2016 along with Norfolk Tides (Class-AAA) right-hander Joe Gunkel. The move protected both hurlers from the Rule-5 Draft and showed that the Orioles feared losing them to another team.
For Liranzo, the move came on the heels of a 2016 season in which he was dominant coming out of the bullpen. He started the season at Delmarva (Class-A Low) where he appeared in 16 games, mostly in late-inning situations. In a span of 34.1 innings, Liranzo registered no record and no saves but did limit South Atlantic League hitters to a .109 batting average. His ERA was 1.05 (four earned runs) and his WHIP was 0.79 with 46 strikeouts and 15 walks; he hit only two batters and did not surrender a home run.
Numbers like that earned Liranzo a promotion in July. The Orioles moved him all the way up to Bowie skipping right past Frederick (Class-A High). In 11 games for the Baysox, Liranzo pitched 18.2 innings to a 1-1 record and 3.38 ERA. His WHIP was 1.07 with 20 strikeouts, 12 walks and one hit batter. He held Eastern League batters to a .127 batting average.
The Orioles thought enough of Liranzo to assign him to the Arizona Fall League to see how he would perform against advanced competition. His time in the AFL was short-lived as he suffered a minor back strain in his first game and was shut down.
Originally signed as an international free agent in 2012 by the Atlanta Braves, the then 17 year old (he turns 22 in March) out of the Dominican Republic spent two seasons in the Dominican Summer League with the Braves’ team before being released in June of 2013. The Orioles signed Liranzo in July and assigned him to their team in the DSL team where he appeared in six games (10.1 innings). The Orioles determined that Liranzo had an elbow injury that required the repair of an olecranon fracture as well as the placement of a screw in the area. The surgery and rehabilitation caused him to miss the entire 2014 season.
Liranzo returned to the Orioles DSL team for the 2015 season and it was then that he showed just what he is capable of. In 23 appearances and 38.1 innings he had a record of 3-2 with a 2.35 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 46 strikeouts and 19 walks while holding opponents to a .200 batting average.
Liranzo is a hard thrower who can hit 96-97 mph and possesses a solid slider. He has a sinker as well and has shown an ability to limit hits and walks, surrendering 20 and 27 respectively in 2016. Matt Eddy of Baseball America had Liranzo rated second among the 29 relievers added to 40-man rosters prior to the Rule-5 draft based on these stats (the 2014-2016 major league average among relievers is shown in parentheses): HR/9 0.58 (0.93), Walk % 13.0 (8.8) and Strike out % 31.9 (22.3).
The 2017 season, where I expect Liranzo to pitch in Bowie, will be one that he has a few things to prove:
· He is deserving of his spot on the 40-man roster
· He skipped two organizational levels (Class-A Short and A-High) for good reasons
· His elbow is fully healed
· He factors into the Orioles’ future
Liranzo addressed the health of his elbow at the start of the team’s 2017 mini-camp when he told Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun “I feel pretty good in my elbow, I don’t have any pain in (it) anytime. I think I’m completely healthy now. It’s a great feeling.” Looking at the numbers, his performance in 2017 should cross all four items off the list. I see big things ahead for this young man and would not be surprised if he made the jump to Norfolk at some point this year.