Though he is committed to TCU, Orioles fifth-round pick Carter Baumler, a right-handed pitcher out of Dowling Catholic High in West Des Moines, Iowa, is excited to join the Orioles organization after productive conversations with the club.
Though no deal has been announced, he has reportedly agreed to a $1.5 million bonus, which is more than $1 million above the slot value at the No. 133 pick ($422,300). Baltimore was able to fit Baumler into its draft pool (nearly $13.9 million) because No. 2 overall pick Heston Kjerstad is expected to sign an under-slot deal.
“If it was going to work out and I was going to play professional baseball, it had to be life-changing money and it had to be phenomenal farm system,” Baumler said on Glenn Clark Radio June 16. “The culture of the Orioles … that played a huge part into it, and they kind of met me where I was at. I think things are going to work out.”
Baltimore was one of the teams that showed interest before the draft, going as far as sending area scout Scott Thomas to visit Baumler at the pitcher’s home in Iowa. Thomas visited in January, and that was the moment when Baumler realized the Orioles were a real possibility.
“He was super high on my mechanics and my athleticism. Naturally I think my mechanics are pretty good,” Baumler said. “I really haven’t had too much help, and they just came really, really natural. I think that was something he saw. Playing in Iowa we don’t get a ton of innings on our arm so I think [in] professional baseball I’m going to just keep getting better and better.”
Baumler was drafted as a pitcher, but he was set to pitch and play the outfield for TCU. He didn’t rule out playing both ways in the pros. He has experience at multiple positions, including catcher, and he said that he hopes to continue taking batting practice occasionally in the minors.
As a pitcher, he throws a four-seam fastball, a one-seam fastball (which he said acts like a two-seamer), a changeup and a spike knuckle curve. He has worked with recently retired big-league pitchers Jeremy Hellickson and Dan Jennings to perfect his arsenal.
“I feel like I can locate every single [pitch] just as good as the other one. I feel really good about my pitches,” Baumler said. “I’ve been working the crap out of my changeup just because I felt that was the one I needed to work on a ton this year. I changed the grip on my spike curve just to make it a little sharper, a little bit harder and my fastball is running a lot right now.”
Hellickson won a World Series ring with the Washington Nationals in 2019. (Hellickson started eight games for Baltimore in 2017, going 2-6.) Jennings, who was raised in West Des Moines, was on the Nationals’ roster last season as well. Neither contributed much to the championship season, making a combined 17 appearances.
Hellickson taught Baumler the spike knuckle curve grip. That curveball and the one-seam fastball are pitches rarely thrown, especially for a high schooler. Baumler said he takes pride in experimenting with new pitches and that his four-seamer looks the same coming of his hand as the one-seamer.
Baumler comes from Dowling Catholic, which has a much richer tradition in football than baseball. The Maroons have won the last seven Class 4A state championships, the first school in Iowa to accomplish the feat. Iowa in general is known for football more so than baseball, but Baumler says baseball is making inroads in the state. In fact, he said a local club team facility he works out at has started to use Rapsodo pitch tracking technology.
Baumler is now joining an organization that is rebuilding, but it’s a challenge he looks forward to. He wants to be part of making the Orioles a winning franchise again.
“I’ve got butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it,” Baumler said. “There’s just so much opportunity if I can be on that team that is starting to get back up there, it’s going to be a dream come true.”
For more from Baumler, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Dowling Catholic Baseball