Ortega was looking alright in the minors through 2008 after starting in the Angels system in 2006. In 424 innings, he had a 3.69 ERA with a 6.4 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9. Not flashy but not bad. He saw some time in the majors in 2009, making three starts. He gave up 19 hits and four homers in 12.2 innings, good for a 9.24 ERA. He hasn’t made it back since. He spent most of 2010 dealing with injuries and in the minors gave up another 75 earned runs in 84.1 innings. That’s not good. Baseball America once projected him as a potential #4 starter with good control and a fastball in the low-to-mid-90s.
Sanches is an interesting case, but not entirely because of his arm. From 2009 through 2011 he was a serviceable relief option for the Marlins, pitching 181.2 innings with a 2.92 ERA. Those were the only years where he didn’t give up more than 10 hits per nine innings. With a 4.7 BB/9 over his major league career, Sanches can get away with that – if he’s not giving up base hits. He didn’t walk as many in the minors – just 3.1 BB/9 – but he actually walked less as he moved up the ladder, with a 2.4 BB/9 in 283.1 innings at Triple A. Combined with a 9.2 K/9 in those innings and he looked like a good option for a bullpen.
Now, Sanches is 34 years old, so there’s not much upside. He’s not likely to go much beyond spring training. What strikes me as interesting is that Sanches was a former second round pick of the Royals in 1999. He was in the organization until l August of 2003 when he was dealt to the Padres for Rondell White as the Royals tried to win the AL Central.
Severino is 27 years old and has pitched in the majors as recently as 2011 when he got 4.2 innings with the Nationals. He gave up two runs while walking one and striking out seven in that stretch. In the minors, he has a career 2.92 ERA in 385.2 innings and has struck out 9.2 batters per nine innings. The Nationals designated him for assignment in August. He’s walked 4.2 batters per nine innings in his career, but in 2011 and 2012 alone, he had a 6.6 BB/9. He’s got an outside chance of doing something, but he’ll have to get that walkrate fixed up in order to do so. He’s left-handed, so he’ll get a second look on that basis alone.
The odds are pretty long for all of them and they’re most likely to land in Omaha, but those signings matter to fill out a roster. There’s really no risk – if nobody pans out, the Royals have a minimal investment. And if they do, well that’s a good problem to run into.