Former Don is hoping to take advantage of opportunities in the Baltimore Orioles system

by Gary Adornato

In 2019 the Baltimore Orioles are the land of opportunity for aspiring professional baseball players. With a completely new front office, minor league development operations and a total rebuild underway, every prospect within the organization, new and old, is getting a longer look and a chance to build towards a major league future.

One of the young players taking advantage is former Loyola Blakefield star Bruce Zimmermann, a left-handed pitcher who was promoted last week from AA Bowie to the Orioles AAA affiliate in Norfolk.

Bruce Zimmermann

Zimmermann earned the promotion by pitching to a 2.58 ERA in 18 games at Bowie this season, going 5-3 with 101 strike outs in 101.1 innings. In his AAA debut, Zimmermann was roughed up as he made a start on Sunday against Lehigh Valley, allowing 10 hits and five runs in four-plus innings, but the Orioles remain high on him.

He has been in pro ball since 2017 and has a 16-12 career record. He has 55 career appearances with all but one coming as a starter. He has three complete games and two shutouts and has an overall ERA of 3.08. In 263.1 innings, he has 271 strike outs and just 89 walks and has pitched to a WHIP of 1.26.

Current Loyola Blakefield baseball coach Mike Kelly was a first-year assistant to former coach Jimmy Crowley during Zimmermann’s senior year with the Dons and was immediately impressed.

“When I saw him pitch I said to Jim where is this kid going to school?,” said Kelly. “At that time he thought he may go to Alvernia College. I never heard of it and thought he could do better than that. I called Mike Gottleib (at Towson) and he came out and watched him pitch against Gilman. After the first inning, Mike walked over to me and said he would take him right now.

“Bruce is a very smart pitcher, the crafty lefty. He was also a competitor and had a great career at Loyola. The Loyola community is so proud of all he has accomplished and is hoping to see him in the bigs.”

Zimmermann was acquired last summer in a mid-season trade from the Atlanta Braves system involving major league pitchers Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day. Atlanta drafted him in the fifth round of the 2017 MLB 1st-Year Player Draft out of Division II Mount Olive in North Carolina. Standing 6-feet-2 and weighing 215 pounds, Zimmermann throws in the low 90’s with an excellent fastball and an evolving change-up and curve.

Zimmermann began his high school career at Cardinal Gibbons, but went to Loyola when Gibbons closed. An honor student at Blakefield, Zimmermann was an All-MIAA pick and was named the MVP of the Brooks Robinson All-Star Game, at Oriole Park, following his senior year. He began his college career at Towson University but eventually transferred to Mount Olive.