By Contributing Writer: Nick Stevens
Continuing our in-depth look at the Baltimore Orioles’ 2017 MLB Draft selections, we take a peek at 7th round pick (number 218 overall), Ben Breazeale.
Photo: Baby Birdland
The left-handed Breazeale was selected as a catcher out of Wake Forest University. He had the national spotlight in the NCAA Super Regionals just a few days ago in Gainesville, Florida. In the bottom of the 11th inning in a tied ball game against the third-ranked Florida Gators, Breazeale sent a moonshot walk-off homerun over the right field fence to force a game three. (Seriously, I have shared the video on my twitter page. You need to watch it.) While the Demon Deacons would eventually fail to reach the College World Series, MLB scouts took notice of this Wake Forest team, as four players would be drafted in the first seven rounds, including Breazeale.
Ben Breazeale has a pedigree of success that hopefully follows him to the Orioles’ organization. The former high school state champion found himself on the Johnny Bench Award (nation’s top catcher in the NCAA) watch list the last two seasons. Defense was a major reason for the recognition. In 193 career games behind the plate at Wake Forest, Breazeale committed just 13 errors, a .989 percentage for his career.
A four-year starter for the Deacs, Breazeale finished his senior season with a .333/.399/.540 slash line, 11 home runs, 51 RBIs, 16 doubles, 27 walks, and just 39 strikeouts in 237 at-bats.
Ben had just five home runs through his first three years at Wake Forest, but found his power stroke this season, hitting mainly from the five hole. I got in touch with Edward Foster (@fefoster4 on Twitter) of Blogger So Dear, a Wake Forest community blog on SB Nation, and asked him why Orioles’ fans should be excited about Ben Breazeale. According to Foster, one of those reasons is his power potential. After watching just a small sample size of Ben’s at-bats, I share Foster’s enthusiasm of the power potential. The ball quickly jumps off the bat of Breazeale and rockets out of the ballpark.
Moving beyond the statistics, the 6’0”, 210 pound Breazeale looks to be the type of ball player with which the Orioles will be beyond pleased to have. Foster highlighted Ben’s work ethic as the top reason why Orioles’ fans need to pay attention to him. “He always came across as one of the hardest workers on the team and seemed to really embrace his role” said Foster.
Breazeale also appears to be a great addition when it comes to pitcher development. Foster noted Ben’s excellent composure behind the plate and “ability to keep pitchers in a good frame of mind even in tough situations.”
One statistic of note that Ben will need to greatly improve is his ability to gun down base stealers. Breazeale caught only 29 of 152 attempted base runners over the last four years. Orioles’ coaches are currently helping top prospect Chance Sisco with this skill and results have been positive. I have little doubt the coaching staff can do the same with Breazeale.
Keep up with Breazeale and his progress by following @BabyBirdland, @CoachNick_14, and @CABoemmelJr on Twitter. Also, a big thank you to Edward Foster of Blogger So Dear. If you happen to be a Wake Forest fan/alumni, follow their work for everything Wake Forest sports.