At first glance, Daniel Ayers’ 5.22 ERA this season doesn’t look all that impressive.
But considering most of the runs the Baltimore Orioles farmhand gave up this year came during a three-week stretch when he was sick, Ayers’ ERA the rest of the season was around 2.00.
“Some of those outings that I struggled with really threw my ERA up there, especially some of the big blowout innings that I had,” said Ayers, who went 2-1 for the Class A short-season Aberdeen IronBirds.
The 2013 Columbus North graduate ended the season with a bang, throwing two scoreless innings against Vermont and allowing one run over three innings to pick up the win against Hudson Valley. For the season, the left-hander finished with 23 strikeouts and 20 walks in 29 1/3 innings, all in relief.
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“It had its ups and downs, just like any other year,” Ayers said. “I finished on a strong note my last couple outings, and overall I was happy with the strides I made this year.”
Ayers, who spent the previous two seasons playing Rookie League baseball in Sarasota, spent 10 weeks in Sarasota after this year’s spring training. The Orioles assigned him to Aberdeen on June 19.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity I had in Aberdeen this year and playing in front of a great crowd in a great environment,” Ayers said. “Aberdeen really loves their baseball. It’s not very often you get to go out, especially in minor-league baseball, and go out and throw in front of 5,000 fans every night. It was a great experience.”
Last week, Ayers and his former pitching coach at North, Trevor Baty, put on a pitching camp for kids at Wynne-Wynne Situation Sports Training. Ayers has been working out at the facility since he has returned from Aberdeen.
“I’ll be in here trying to hone my craft a little bit,” Ayers said. “I’ll also be working with some other pitchers, mostly younger guys and give back a little bit and share some knowledge.”
The 6-foot-2 Ayers has bulked up to 215 pounds, about 15 pounds bigger than his high school days.
“He’s coming along nice,” Baty said. “You can definitely tell that he’s gotten in a lot better shape. He’s putting on a little bit of muscle. He has a lot better command, and he’s maturing, as well.”
“The velocity I had on my fastball was good coming in,” Ayers said. “Picking up consistency in the main thing. It’s a long process.”
Next year, Ayers hopes to play for the Orioles’ Low-A Delmarva team or the Advanced-A Frederick squad.
“I feel if I work hard this offseason and go into spring training with the mindset I had this past season, I’ll hopefully break with a full-season team,” Ayers said. “I just want to make that next step up and go in with confidence and hope for the best.”
Name: Daniel Ayers
High school: Columbus North
Last year’s stats: 2-1 with a 5.22 ERA for the Class A short-season Aberdeen IronBirds