The 27-year-old Escalona pitched to a 5.67 ERA with 6.7 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and a 39.9 percent ground-ball rate in 46 innings for the Rockies in 2013. The Venezuelan hurler hasn't had much big league success but has averaged 94.2 mph on his heater over the past two seasons.
It's worth pointing out that Escalona had pitched to a 3.38 ERA with a strong 27-to-7 K/BB ratio through his first 32 innings. On June 9, he allowed three runs in one-third of an inning and hit the disabled list with elbow inflammation. That injury likely contributed to the sky-high 10.93 ERA he posted over his next 14 frames before being designated for assignment.
Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette explained to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com that Escalona has been starting in the Venezuelan Winter League and has added a third pitch -- a split-fingered changeup -- that scouts have raved about. Kubatko quotes Duquette: "We feel like he's developing pitches that he needs to be successful in the big leagues. He's got a weapon for left-handed hitters now," (Twitter links).
Escalona has a 2.10 ERA with a 25-to-11 K/BB ratio in 34 1/3 innings in Venezuela this winter. He is the second bullpen piece that Duquette has signed to a Major League deal this week, as the team also picked up lefty Kelvin De La Cruz on Monday despite the fact that he has no Major League experience. With the Escalona signing, the O's now have 33 players on their 40-man roster.