By Contributing Writer: Chuck Boemmel Jr.
Bowie Baysox (Class-AA) RHP Jesus Liranzo is in the midst of a mediocre season at the All-Star break. Recent changes, however, point to a strong second half for the 22 year old Dominican prospect.
Photo: Patrick Cavey
At the break Liranzo owns a 1-3 record with 2 saves in a span of 35.1 innings over 21 appearances. His ERA sits at 5.35 while his WHIP is 1.64; he has struck out 44, walked 24, hit 2 batters and surrendered 7 home runs.
Liranzo was used primarily as a late-inning reliever for the Baysox until a change was made on June 17th. Similarly to how the Baysox have handled Tanner Scott, Liranzo became a starter, pitching 3 innings a game, on a semi-regular schedule. The change has made a huge difference in his performance.
Liranzo appeared in 16 games as a reliever and pitched 22.2 innings to a 6.75 ERA, 1.76 WHIP and .264 opponent’s batting average. He surrendered 23 hits and 18 runs (17 earned) while walking 17 and striking out 27.
In 5 games as a “starter”, Liranzo has pitched 13.0 innings to a 2.77 ERA, 1.38 WHIP and .224 opponent’s batting average. He has given up 11 hits and 4 earned runs in those 5 games while walking 7 and striking out 17.
Two things offset Liranzo’s improvements: a high number of pitches thrown and a low ground ball rate. Both before and after the change he is averaging 19 pitches/inning while inducing 23% groundballs prior and 19% post change.
Valued for his power arm (Liranzo’s fastball sits in the mid 90’s and I have personally seen him hit 100 mph) Liranzo was moved to the 40-man roster in November of 2016 to prevent his exposure to the Rule 5 Draft. He has an above average slider but suffers with his control. Scouts have rated Liranzo’s control a 40 (below average) on the 20-80 scale. He does need to improve his control and in my opinion throw lower in the zone to induce more ground balls. No matter the velocity, pitches thrown up in the zone are a recipe for disaster.
Liranzo has shown improvement in the month since becoming a “starter” and I am confident that the improvements will continue as he gets used to the regular schedule as he moves into the second half of the Eastern League season.
Much is expected of this young man and I believe he will deliver on those expectations. Velocity is a good attribute for a pitcher to have; Liranzo certainly possesses that. It’s up to the coaching staff of the Baysox to help him develop the better control he needs to be successful at the Major League level.
Should Liranzo continue to be successful as a “starter” the question becomes how does the Orioles’ organization see his role going forward. I say we will have clarity as the 2017 season progresses. I still am of the opinion that fans will see this lively arm at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in the future.