By Seth Tow
Orioles prospect Michael Baumann was promoted from Low-A Delmarva to High-A Frederick May 18, and the right-handed pitcher has maintained a high level of performance with the Keys.
Baumann, 22, posted a 5-0 record, 1.42 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 47 strikeouts during seven starts at Delmarva this season. Since his promotion, he boasts a 4-0 record, 1.82 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 17 strikeouts in five starts.
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June 7 that, with the big league club in shambles, it's natural to start thinking about the future. However, he remains grounded in his approach.
"It's tough not to think about the future," Baumann said. "The ultimate dream is to make it up there and play at Camden one day. But I think what I try to focus on is living in the moment and enjoying the minor leagues. Some people could say it's a grind and it can be a nightmare. But it is what you make of it, and I try to make the best, enjoy it day in and day out, just have fun with it and take a step back and realize 'Wow, I get to play professional baseball in the Orioles' organization.'"
Baumann, 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, said his pitching coaches and teammates have been instrumental in his success. He said the Keys' roster is filled with players who rank among the best he's ever played with.
A healthy competition among the pitchers at Delmarva has also been beneficial for Baumann. The same day Baumann was promoted, left-handers Travis Seabrooke (3.29 ERA at Delmarva) and Zach Muckenhirn (2.12 ERA at Delmarva) also moved up to Frederick. Ten days later, right-hander Zac Lowther (1.16 ERA at Delmarva) joined the trio.
Baumann said the pitchers always pushed each other to improve.
"It was a great group of guys," Baumann said. "Just showing up to the field every day, you know you're going to have someone put on a show just watching them from the side and being able to learn from each other and push each other. You see a guy like Zac pitch well one night, you want to keep up with him. It's awesome to see your friends doing well, too."
A Minnesota native, Baumann was initially drafted out of Mahtomedi High School in 2014 by the Minnesota Twins in the 34th round before attending Jacksonville University. At Jacksonville, he was college teammates with Orioles top prospect Austin Hays for two seasons. He's enjoyed watching Hays work his way through the Orioles' system and hopes they can be teammates again someday.
Baumann holds the school record at Jacksonville for career strikeouts with 251 and tied the school record for career games started with 43. The Orioles' third-round selection in the 2017 MLB Draft now wants to improve his fastball command and develop his secondary pitches.
He said the adjustment from Low-A to High-A wasn't as easy as he made it look, but he tried to stay consistent and enjoy himself when going to work.
"Life's a lot more enjoyable when you're pitching well," Baumann said. "I can build off each start and, luckily, confidence keeps growing and growing. I think it's been a fun start to my professional career so far."
For more from Baumann, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Patrick Cavey/Frederick Keys