by Matthew Taylor
He appeared seemingly from nowhere and then disappeared just as quickly. But former O's reliever Sandy Rleal hasn't vanished; he just went to Pennsylvania.
Rleal is currently a member of the Lancaster Barnstormers team in the Atlantic League. Jason Guarente tells his tale.
Few players have Sandy Rleal's story. The hard-throwing righthander was in the big leagues two years ago and appeared to be part of the Baltimore Orioles' future.Rleal pitched one season for the Orioles, in 2006, and put up some pedestrian numbers - 4.44 ERA, 46.1 IP, 19 Ks, 23 BBs. The team expected more from the young hurler coming out of camp, as detailed by Jorge Arangure, Jr. of The Washington Post.
Today, no major league organization is willing to give Rleal a chance. He came to the Lancaster after not even getting invited to spring training in February.
How did Rleal's fortunes change so quickly?
"I don't know, man," he said with a smile. "The game is crazy sometimes. I'm going to give it 100 percent and I'm confident I can get back to the big leagues. If I do a good job here, I'll sign somewhere."
But it is Rleal who has appeared practically out of nowhere. Last season he had a 2.04 ERA for Class AA Bowie and saved 16 games after Ray was called up to the majors. A wicked change-up has made him a sensation this spring. Though Rleal throws 91-93 mph, relatively tame by major league standards, he deceives hitters with the change-up, a pitch he can throw for a strike in any count. Rleal is fearless with the pitch.Despite those expectations, Rleal's Major League disappearing act is still something of a mystery. Baltimore-area baseball fans can catch him in action again when the Lancaster Barnstormers visit Brooks Robinson's Southern Maryland Blue Crabs June 20 through 22 and again Aug. 8 through 10.