Born: Carol Stream, Illinois
Age: 22 (8/21/97)
Height/Weight: 6’3”/185 lbs.
School: University of New Orleans (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Born in Carol Stream, Illinois, Eric Orze attended Glenbard North High School. After graduating in 2016, he attended Northwest Florida State College, a community college in Niceville, Florida. Appearing in 15 games and starting 9 of them, the right-hander posted a 4.71 ERA in 57.1 innings, allowing 70 hits, walking 8, and striking out 59. His sophomore season was very similar, as appeared in 15 games and started 12 of them, posting a 5.18 ERA in 66.0 innings, allowing 74 hits, walking 16, and striking out 61.
In 2018, Orze transferred to the University of New Orleans. Serving primarily as a reliever, the right-hander posted an 8.10 ERA in 16.2 innings, allowing 26 hits, walking 11, and striking out 13. His time on the mound was unfortunately brief that season, as the pain that he had been feeling in his abdomen grew so intense that he felt compelled to visit the doctor, where he learned he had testicular cancer. He immediately had surgery to remove the tumor and the initial prognosis was good: the cancer hadn’t spread. Just a few days later, however, he was back in the hospital because fluid had built up in his lungs, making it hard to breathe. The process to drain the fluid was a simple one, but in the process, doctors made another grim discovery: a mole on his back was melanoma. The surgery to remove the skin cancer was successful, and Orze was pronounced cancer-free once more, but the sickness and the surgeries had taken their toll on his body. He lost a great deal of weight and strength and sat out the 2019 season recovering. He finally returned to the baseball diamond on opening night against Southern University and A&M College, tossing an inning plus of work. By the time the NCAA ended the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Orze made 4 appearances, 3 three of them, posting a 2.75 ERA in 19.2 innings, allowing 22 hits, walking 5, and striking out 29.
The right-hander throws from a high-three-quarters arm slot, dropping his body as he drives off the mound, lowering his release point. His fastball generally sits in the low-to-mid-90s, and the pitch has heavy sink to it. Earlier in his career, the pitch sat more in the high-80s-to-low-90s, but since returning to the mound after recovering from cancer, he was able to add additional velocity to the pitch through mechanical optimization and added muscle growth. He complements the fastball with a splitter and a slider, both of which grade out as fringe-average pitches. The splitter is his go-to strikeout pitch, dropping inches off the table, coming in in the mid-80s. His slider sits in the mid-80s and features late slice. He also throws a high-80s cutter, which may or may not be a distinct pitch or simply sliders that reach the upper-80.
As evidenced by his fight against cancer and his return to the mound, Orze has been lauded for his mental and physical toughness and is lauded for his high degree of character and maturity.