BALTIMORE—The Orioles weren’t taking any chances with 21-year-old righthander Jesus Liranzo in the weeks leading up to the Rule 5 draft.
Liranzo was added to the 40-man roster to protect him despite having thrown just 52 professional innings coming into 2016. He went 1-1, 1.87 in 53 innings with low Class A Delmarva and Double-A Bowie.
Liranzo bypassed high Class A Frederick and made such a solid impression that the Orioles didn’t want to risk losing him in the Rule 5.
“Jesus Liranzo has a power arm, as well as a sinker and slider with strikeout potential,” executive vice president Dan Duquette said. “He advanced quickly through our minor league system this past year by limiting walks and hits.”
It’s becoming quite a comeback story for Liranzo, who in 2013 had Tommy John surgery that included a screw being inserted in his right elbow to repair an Olecranon fracture. He missed all of 2014.
The Braves signed Liranzo in May 2012 and released him the next season. The Orioles have no intention of letting him get away after he registered a 0.89 WHIP and averaged 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
“Look at his numbers and where he came from, and the future with him is bright,” farm director Brian Graham said. “The guy has a chance to pitch in the big leagues.”
The Orioles also added pitcher Joe Gunkel, 24, to the 40-man roster after he went a combined 8-14, 4.02 between Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk.
“Joe Gunkel is able to use a three-pitch mix effectively to keep hitters off balance and has excellent command of his pitches,” Duquette said.
• The Orioles purchased righthander Logan Verrett from the Mets in November, returning him to the organization after it chose him in the 2014 Rule 5 draft. The Rangers claimed Verrett on waivers and later returned him to the Mets. He went 3-8, 5.20 this year in 12 games—10 starts—with the Mets.
• The Orioles claimed corner outfielder Adam Brett Walker on waivers from the Brewers. He led the minors in 2016 with 202 strikeouts in 531 plate appearances at Triple-A Rochester. Walker also hit 27 home runs after totaling 31 at Double-A Chattanooga in 2015.