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Bergesen Proving He Belongs

By Joseph Merkel

He doesn’t throw 95 nor does he have a devastating out pitch, but during his three starts with the Orioles, 23-year-old pitcher Brad Bergesen is showing that he belongs at this level.

Bergesen was recognized as the Orioles’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year after going 16-7 with a 3.10 ERA between High-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie in 2008. Bergesen impressed when he got a chance to break spring with the team this year. The young righty was sent back to the minors after making three starts and a great impression. During his starts, Bergesen threw 11 and two-thirds innings in which he struck out 11 and walked only one.

Instead of giving Bergesen a spot in the rotation, which some thought he very well deserved, the O’s decided it would be best for him to begin the year at Triple A-Norfolk, where he had never pitched before. Though it was widely thought that he would eventually be the first minor league pitcher to be recalled, the Orioles’ hand was forced after an injury to starter Alfredo Simon requited a stint on disabled list. After two successful starts at Norfolk, Bergesen was called up to make his debut April 21 against the visiting Chicago White Sox.

Bergesen threw five and two-thirds innings, giving up only one earned run while striking out four White Sox and earning the win. His next start, a true test against a formidable Texas Rangers line-up, was not as successful, earning the no-decision after giving up five earned runs including three home runs.

Bergesen calmed down in his longest and most recent start of the year in which he recorded his first quality start as a major leaguer. However he picked up his second no-decision in as many starts after giving up three runs over six innings of work. Bergesen, who primarily works off his sinker and fastball, recorded 13 groundball outs and worked quickly against the Blue Jays. In a stadium like Oriole Park where the balls fly out of the yard, a groundball pitcher could really thrive with some added experience.

With the rotation continuing to struggle, and the Mark Hendrickson and Adam Eaton experiments failing fairly miserably, Bergesen looks like he’ll be in the rotation for good unless he strings together a considerable amount of bad outings.

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