Bruce Zimmermann's Dream Comes True
Lefthander Bruce Zimmermann dreamed of pitching for the Orioles, his hometown team, creating a childhood baseball fantasy that came true during the first week of Grapefruit League games.
Though he wore a spring training uniform, it was close enough to the real thing.
The 25-year-old Zimmermann, a native of Ellicott City, Md., was acquired in the 2018 trade that sent righthanders Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day to the Braves. He was the Braves' 2017 fifth-round pick out of Division II Mount Olive in North Carolina.
Orioles manager Brandon Hyde was impressed right away by the 6-foot-2, 215-pound southpaw's side work in camp as a non-roster invitee.
Hyde wasn’t the only one.
"Judging by our hitters’ reactions to his stuff, they were all very impressed,” Hude said. "He’s got life to his fastball. I saw a good breaking ball in his live BP, also.”
Zimmermann followed starter Asher Wojciechowski in a Feb. 26 game against the Braves. The first batter he faced, prospect Bryce Ball, homered on his first pitch.
Not quite how Zimmermann envisioned it as a kid. But he induced two double plays in two innings and was saddled with only one run.
"The guy put a good swing on it," Zimmermann said. "The same thing you do in a normal outing if that happens. You just put it behind you and you try to get back in the dugout as quickly as possible.”
Zimmermann’s fastball touched 94 mph and he mixed in all of his secondary stuff, just as he did at Double-A Bowie last summer while recording a 2.58 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 18 appearances before a promotion to Triple-A Norfolk.
Zimmermann ranks as the No. 16 prospect in the Orioles organization heading into the 2020 season.
"I'm just really proud of that guy for the work ethic and willingness to go out and work to improve all facets of his game," minor league director of pitching Chris Holt said.
"He's certainly a guy who does fly below the radar, but certainly a guy who is capable of being an impact guy at the big league level at some point.”
— Outfielder Yusniel Diaz missed the first week of exhibition games with a sore left shoulder. Diaz, one of the organization’s top prospects since being acquired from the Dodgers in the Manny Machado trade, twice went on the injured list last summer with Double-A Bowie because of hamstring and quadriceps injuries.
— The Orioles claimed shortstop/outfielder Andrew Velazquez on waivers from the Indians and tossed him into the super-utility competition. Shortstop Richard Ureña was designated for assignment to create room on the 40-man roster and returned to camp as an invitee after clearing waivers.