Pop was a reliever at the University of Kentucky, and has pitched exclusively out of the ‘pen as a pro as well. He has dominated at every level since signing, and he’s getting his first taste of Double-A after coming to the O’s in the Manny Machado deal. I was impressed with the stuff and angle when I saw him during Spring Training, and those attributes have been as I remembered across two looks with Bowie.
Pitching from the stretch, the tall righty uses his height well to throw downhill while also generating above-average movement from a deceptive low three-quarters slot. The fastball projects as a true 60-grade pitch if the in-zone command continues to develop, a power sinker with mid-90s velocity that reaches 97-to-98 mph at best. His mid-80s slider is at least an average pitch, and it flashes the potential to miss right-handed bats when there’s sharp finish to it.
The Orioles will need to improve their rotation if they want to do this rebuild right, and while Pop only fits a bullpen profile, it could be an impactful one. At his best, he doesn’t look incapable of combatting big league righties right now, and the deception and above-average two-pitch mix could make him a capable 7th or 8th inning setup reliever at the end of the day. This was quietly a very nice add to the package of prospects the O’s returned from Los Angeles for Machado.