The Orioles have claimed right-hander Zack Burdi off waivers from the White Sox and designated lefty Ryan Hartman for assignment, per a team announcement. Burdi, 26, had been designated for assignment by the White Sox earlier this week. Baltimore has optioned him to Triple-A Norfolk for the time being.
The 26-year-old Burdi was the White Sox’ first-round pick out of Louisville back in 2016. The younger brother of former Twins top prospect Nick Burdi, Zack was viewed as a potential late-inning powerhouse (as was his brother) when the Sox tabbed him with the 26th overall pick. Unfortunately for both Burdi brothers, injuries have severely impacted their development. Zack had Tommy John surgery in 2018 and has also missed time due to a torn tendon in his knee.
Even though it’s been more than five years since he was drafted, injuries have limited Burdi to just 141 1/3 innings between the minors and the big leagues. He’s tossed just 16 1/3 of those frames in the Majors and allowed 15 runs in that time. His minor league numbers aren’t overwhelmingly better; he’s worked to a 4.90 ERA across five levels, including a 4.74 mark in 74 Triple-A frames.
That said, it’s also not hard to see why a club in the Orioles’ position would be intrigued by Burdi. He’s still just 26 years old, isn’t far removed from being considered one of the game’s more promising bullpen prospects, and his power arsenal is still tantalizing. Burdi averaged a whopping 98 mph on his fastball in 2020 and 96 mph in 2021, and he’s fanned 29.9 percent of the opponents he’s faced as a professional. The Orioles have a number of bullpen-only arms on their 40-man roster, and while Burdi is something of a project, he also comes with a good bit more upside than most of those other bullpen prospects. Baltimore has lost 13 straight to drop to MLB’s worst club, but in the process, they’ve moved to the top priority on leaguewide waiver claims.
Hartman, 27, made his big league debut with the Astros earlier this season but has still pitched just 2 1/3 innings at the MLB level. He’s allowed a run on three hits and no walks with two punchouts in that time. Baltimore claimed him off waivers on the day of the trade deadline, but it could be a brief stay in the organization. He’s allowed four runs in 2 1/3 Triple-A frames since being claimed and, for the season, carries an ugly 5.40 ERA in 65 Triple-A innings.
Hartman does have strong numbers up through the Double-A level and quality strikeout-to-walk numbers this season, so it’s possible another club will want to take a look once he hits waivers. He’s in the first of three option years, so anyone who picks him up could keep him as a flexible depth option for the foreseeable future.