Can he help a major league bullpen?
Although he pitched poorly in a limited trial in 2012 with the Orioles and the Cubs (6.06 ERA in 16 1/3 innings), he has pitched so consistently well as an AAA reliever that I think he can. Socolovich washed out as a 20- and 21-year-old starting pitcher, but he thrived after converting to full-time relief pitcher in 2010. In 130 innings in AAA, he’s got a 2.99 ERA and a 57-150 BB/K ratio. His control has been improving. He probably doesn’t have the stuff to be a closer, but he’s definitely got the ability to pitch well as part of a modern bullpen. He won’t do it in the major leagues in 2013; he’s reported to have signed with a Japanese team.
The Orioles sent four pitchers — all experienced right-handed relief candidates who had signed minor-league contracts with invitations to spring training — to their minor-league camp. Jon Link, Oscar Villareal, Miguel Socolovich, and Willie Eyre have all add success at the AA and AAA levels; Villareal even has had some major-league success, back in 2006-7 with the Braves. Although all four are candidates to be with the Tides in 2012, the Orioles may also choose to release them, either at the pitcher’s own request (if they think they’ll have a better shot in another organization) or because the Orioles just don’t have room for all of them. Eyre may be the most likely to stay with the Orioles organization and end up in Norfolk, just because he spent some time with the Orioles in 2011.