The Orioles added RHP Zach Clark to the 40-man roster this offseason.
Similar to Michael Belfiore, whom I touched on here, Clark could potentially help the Orioles at some point this season. The 29 year old has done his time in the minors and was finally given a chance to at least prove his worth.
So how much can the average-sized pitcher help the Orioles? The former UMBC Golden Retriever has a mere 6’0″ and 195 lb frame, and does not have a built frame such as Dylan Bundy. However, there are some things that Clark does bring to the table.
Clark has a four pitch arsenal; a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, cutter, and curve ball. His four-seam fastball sits primarily from 90-92 with minor movement relative to others. He has improved a tick in velocity over the past year or so, primarily from what seems to be a little tidier release and delivery. His two-seam does have some movement on it, but not enough to consistently be used as a strikeout pitch. He does a solid job of painting the corners with both variances of the fastball, and I think this is the best trait that Clark offers.
The curve has decent spin. From my experience, he likes to throw this when ahead in the count. That is not saying much, as most do…but it was a very noticeable trend last season. The one thing I like about Clark is that he does mix his pitches well. He may not have the best stuff by any means, but he has learned how to handle a lineup with his long tenure in the minors. He reminds me a lot of how Miguel Gonzalez pitches. Both do not have top tier stuff, but they use their arsenal to its best effort.
So how can he help the Orioles? Right now Clark merely serves as depth in case the Orioles either trade away some of their stockpile pitching or a mass of injuries occur. However, from talking to some within the game, Clark was a big surprise last year and simply looked “better”. I would tend to agree, as he did not even jump on my radar before last season.
Clark has already been optioned to Norfolk, so don’t expect to see him anytime soon. But keep him in mind as a guy who can shuttle up and down if needed, and could possibly fill various roles in the pen or rotation (if necessary). Either way, tip your cap to Zach, he has come a long way and truly lived out the dream that many players barely even sniff.
Ceiling: Spot-Starter, Long Reliever
Floor: Minor League Depth
Likely Scenario: Long Reliever, Fringe Bullpen Arm.