The Orioles announced that they’ve claimed right-handed reliever Cole Sulser off waivers from the Rays. Baltimore had an opening on its 40-man roster after outrighting fellow righty Chandler Shepherd yesterday.
Sulser, 29, went from the Indians to the Rays in the three-team Edwin Encarnacion/Carlos Santana/Yandy Diaz/Jake Bauers deal last offseason. The former 25th-round pick made his MLB debut with Tampa Bay this season and tossed 7 1/3 scoreless innings with just five hits and three walks against nine strikeouts. That was a continuation of a strong season in Triple-A, where Sulser worked 66 innings with a 3.27 ERA, 12.1 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and a 31.6 percent ground-ball rate.
Sulser averaged 93.4 mph on his heater in his brief MLB tenure this season, complementing that pitch with an 86.7 mph slider and a much more occasional changeup. He has a decent track record of missing bats in the upper minors despite never getting an opportunity with the Indians. Sulser went unclaimed in last year’s Rule 5 Draft, but he’s managed to elevate his profile in 2019. While he’s too old to be deemed a “prospect,” given that he’ll turn 30 next March, Sulser will have all three minor league option years remaining beyond this season and looks the part of a legitimately intriguing late bloomer. The Rays, who have an extremely crowded 40-man roster, cut him loose over the weekend to get the aforementioned Diaz back on the roster in advance of this week’s AL Wild Card game.