Lost and Found: Orioles Prospect Mike Belfiore
Editor’s note: Lost and Found is an offseason series in which one underrated prospect from each of the 30 MLB clubs will be discussed in a short, snappy post.
Lost: A first-round draftee of the Arizona D-backs in 2009, Mike Belfiore enjoyed a solid, if underwhelming, first full season in 2010. By 2011, however, it had become clear to Arizona’s brass that his struggles as a starter could be alleviated with a shift to the bullpen.
2011: 35 G — 8 GS — 5.92 ERA — .278 OPP .AVG — 17 HR – 79-to-57 K-to-BB – 79 IP at Class A Advanced Visalia
Found: Belfiore began 2012 back in the Cal League and in a relief role. He was then traded to Baltimore to complete a trade for infielder Josh Bell.
2012: 40 G — 0 GS — 2.71 ERA — .228 OPP .AVG – 4 HR – 78-to-26 K-to-BB – 66 1/3 IP at Visalia/Double-A Bowie
So Belfiore was lost, now he is found. Now, about the Orioles’ returns: Belfiore, who also relieved at Boston College, everyone can now agree is best suited for that role going forward. A dramatic dip in homers allowed and a significant rise in K/IP demonstrate this fact. The 24-year-old lefty, now the O’s 14th-ranked prospect, has the ability to command a plus heater-slider combo (and the opportunity to refine his changeup and curveball on the side) without worrying about going through an opposing lineup a second and third time. Does he have the stuff and mentality to close games in the Majors? Maybe, maybe not. This much is more certain: He will pitch in the big leagues and be useful there.