Michael Belfiore – More Than A LOOGY?
The Orioles seemingly have a full bullpen on paper. It becomes even more occupied when one considers that Brian Matusz, Tommy Hunter and a few other starters could end up there. The Orioles added Michael Belfiore to the 40-man roster this year after he showed some promise with AA Bowie.
While some may have been a little surprised with his addition, I was not at all. I was able to catch Belfiore pitch many times in 2012, and he entered the off-season as my #15 ranked Orioles prospect. Needless to say, Belfiore is one prospect that I believe can make an impact for the O’s at some point in his career.
As noted in my prospect list, Belfiore is usually around 90-92, occasionally hitting 94. In the few Spring Training games I have seen this year, he has been mostly 89-92. He works mostly with a Fastball/Slider combo, while mixing in a change up on occasion.
Against LHH, Belfiore has no problem throwing his sweeping slider for outs. He does a good job at hiding the ball until the last minute against LHH, which is probably the reason why his pitches sneak up on the hitter. His fastball has a little life to it, although it is not a blow-it-by type. The change up is really more of a change-of-pace type, but I have seen him throw it for quality strikes at times, and I think with a little refinement it still can be a solid piece to his arsenal.
Against RHH, Belfiore has certainly improved. His fastball and slider combo does not have the same “oomph” against RHH, as it is easier to pick up (this is fairly typical in the case for pitchers of this nature). The slider is a little easier for the hitter to put the bat head on, but Belfiore has done a better job of dumping the slider into the feet of the batter or the outside corner. The fastball can get him in trouble sometimes, as he will leave it up. In his few Spring Training games this year, that is primarily what the hits have come on. Overall his Spring has been impressive though.
So what do the Orioles have in Belfiore? As of now, he has proven to be a productive pickup for them. If he can continue to hold his ground with RHH, a Troy Patton styled game is not out of possibility. Both pitchers have a similar mold, with Patton probably having a tick more velocity (but not by much). Sometimes Belfiore can lose command, and he will issue some walks when that happens. But I have seen improvement from him since his first game with Bowie.
I think the Orioles might stretch him out a little bit if he does not break camp with them. That is not what I would do personally, but he could be a strong backup plan like Steve Johnson was last season. Overall, I think Belfiore’s season really depends on what happens with Brian Matusz, Troy Patton and even T.J. Mcfarland. As of now, I think he has an upper hand on the other LHP in the roster hunt, as guys like Zach Braddock have not been healthy enough to pitch. At the end of the day, I just want people to be reminded that the Orioles do have something here with Belfiore. How much? Well, we shall find out at some point this year I imagine.
Ceiling: Spot-Starter, Long Reliever
Likely Scenario: LOOGY, possibly Long Reliever