Orioles Claim Jonathan Arauz, Designate Zac Lowther

The Orioles announced they’ve claimed infielder Jonathan Araúz off waivers from the Red Sox and optioned him to Triple-A Norfolk. Left-hander Zac Lowther has been designated for assignment to create a 40-man roster spot.

Boston designated Araúz for assignment last week, a move that eventually ended his tenure in the organization after two-plus seasons. Selected out of the Astros organization in the 2019 Rule 5 draft, Araúz stuck on the active roster for the shortened 2020 campaign. Boston secured his long-term contractual rights and he’s bounced on and off the active roster for the past two seasons as a depth infielder. The switch-hitter owns a .204/.280/.320 line with four home runs through 167 big league plate appearances.

The Panama native has posted a .228/.303/.329 mark in just under 400 trips to the dish with the Red Sox’s top affiliate in Worcester. That’s obviously not great production, but he’s only punched out in 15.8% of his Triple-A plate appearances. Araúz is capable of playing both middle infield positions as well as third base, and while he’s never likely to be much of a power threat, he at least brings solid bat-to-ball skills to the table. The 23-year-old is in his second minor league option year, so the O’s can stash him in Norfolk for the next year and a half if he holds onto a 40-man spot.

Lowther’s designation comes as a bit of a surprise, as the Xavier product had recently been rated as one of the better pitching prospects in the organization. He’s appeared among Baseball America’s rankings of the O’s top 30 prospects heading into each of the past five years. Lowther doesn’t throw hard or draw particularly strong grades for his breaking pitches, but evaluators have pointed to the deception in his delivery and his generally strong control as reasons he could be a useful depth starter.

The 26-year-old is amidst an absolutely dreadful season with Norfolk, though, as he’s been tagged for a 10.03 ERA across 35 innings. He’s served up eight homers in his ten outings while posting worse than average strikeout and walk numbers (21.7% and 10%, respectively). Lowther has also been hit hard at the big league level, allowing just under seven earned runs per nine innings over 11 appearances. That’s a far cry from his stellar performances up through Double-A, and the O’s have been discouraged enough by the recent results to risk losing him entirely.

Baltimore will have a week to trade Lowther or try to run him through outright waivers. His low minors dominance and pair of remaining options could lead another team to see whether they can get him back on track. If Lowther goes unclaimed, he’d remain in the upper minors of the Orioles’ system without occupying a spot on the 40-man roster.

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