BALTIMORE – Former UMBC pitcher and designated hitter Zach Clark (Newark, Del.) has been named to the Baltimore Orioles' 40-man roster, the organization announced on Wednesday, Oct. 31. Clark spent the 2012 season between the Orioles' Double-A and Triple-A affiliates, the Bowie Baysox and Norfolk Tides.
Clark competed at UMBC from 2002 until 2006, when he signed as an undrafted free agent with the Orioles. While with the Retrievers, Clark made 41 starts, the third-highest total in school history, while also striking out 171 batters, the sixth-highest total for the Retrievers. In his senior year, the right-hander went 1-6 while posting a career-best 3.86 ERA. Following the season, Clark earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from UMBC.
"I'm very excited for Zach for so many reasons," said UMBC head coach Bob Mumma, who was an assistant coach while Clark played for the Retrievers. "He was a very good player for us, but he's had to work through a lot of things and I'm thrilled that he gets to fulfill his dream."
Since signing with the Orioles in 2006, Clark has been shuffled throughout the organization, almost leading to his departure from the game.
"This feels really good because I've put in so much work and so much time," Clark said. "It's great to take that next step towards my goal of getting to the big leagues."
The 6-0 righty persevered through the rough times, however, and it paid off this season as a few minor changes brought about major success. A year after going 10-9 with a 5.00 ERA for the Baysox, Clark turned his career around by winning ten of his 15 decisions and posting a 3.19 ERA in Bowie, while also making a few spot starts for Norfolk. For his efforts, the Retriever alum was named an Eastern League All-Star in early July and then when he continued his success, earned a promotion to Norfolk.
With the Tides, Clark kept getting batters out and finished the season with a 5-2 record to go along with a 1.75 ERA. He even capped his year with his best game of the season, a three-hit, complete game shutout of the rival Gwinnett Braves.
By making the 40-man roster, Clark becomes just the third Retriever in school history to make a major league club, following in the footsteps of Jay Witasick and Wayne Franklin. Witasick, a Bel Air native, pitched for seven different clubs during a 12-year career while Franklin, a Wilmington, Del. native, threw for five clubs over a seven-year span.
"This makes me very proud," said former UMBC head coach John Jancuska who coached Witasick, Franklin, and Clark. "We've always recruited players that stood out, so it's extra special to be able to showcase someone who has made it to the big leagues."
And while it's great just to have former players make it to the big league, it's even better for the Retrievers that Clark is with the Orioles.
"It's a great resource when any of your players make it to that level," coach Mumma said. "But just last week, he [Zach] came back to campus and talked to our pitchers, so it's great to have him so close."
With his promotion to the Orioles, Clark is expected to report to spring training with the club in Sarasota, Fla. Pitchers and catchers report to Ed Smith Stadium in February, in advance of the rest of the squad.