By Contributing Writer: Nick Stevens
If Baltimore Orioles’ fans are not already on board the Hess Express, it is time to jump on! David Hess (@hess_express28 on Twitter), the former fifth round pick of the Orioles (2014), has been the anchor of the Bowie Baysox pitching staff in the first month of the 2017 season.
Photo: Patrick Cavey
Hess, 23, has produced several good outings among his six starts. His March 6th performance in Richmond, against the Flying Squirrels (Giants AA), was Hess’ best of the year. He pitched six innings, gave up no runs on four hits, while walking one and striking out five. Jesus Liranzo and Garrett Cleavinger completed the combined-effort shutout.
In seven appearances for the Baysox (six starts), Hess has compiled a 5-1 record with a 3.49 ERA. He has struck out 31 and walked just 12 batters, while holding hitters to a .231 batting average. Righties are currently hitting a measly .200 against Hess. These numbers show a lot of promise for the 6’2” RHP out of Tennessee Tech, who needs a successful rebound year after struggling in his first full year at the Double A level (5-13, 5.37 ERA).
The turnaround from last season has been tremendous. Hess’s WHIP is down (1.58 to 1.19), and his ground ball percentage has ticked up slightly. Additionally, his opponents’ batting average is down from .310 to .231. What stands out to me, though, is the amount of home runs Hess has given up. In 127 innings or work last year, Hess gave up 19 home runs, compared to just three in 38.2 innings in 2017.
What should Orioles’ fans expect from David Hess in the future? According to Tucker Blair of Baseball Prospectus, his fastball sits between 90-94 mph and his slider has above average movement, but many scouts are critical of Hess’ command of his changeup and curveball. Developing a third pitch is necessary if Hess wants to earn a spot in the Orioles’ starting rotation. David could also end up as a long-relief bullpen option, allowing Hess more of an opportunity to use his large frame to overpower hitters.
I fully expect the Orioles to keep Hess on path towards the starting rotation. In an interview with MASN’s Steve Melewski, Hess credits Orioles’ pitching coach Alan Mills with tweaking his delivery which has led to the 2017 success. A reunion could be in store soon, as long as David Hess continuous his electric campaign.
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