The Orioles are playing well right now, but the future of this rebuilding franchise still lies in its player development. Let’s take a look at how some of the baby birds are doing.
You may remember back to my 2008 Season Preview post where I predicted LHP Garrett Olsen would win the 5th slot in the starting rotation. Well, that one didn’t pan out. Throughout the spring he battled control problems and eventually got sent back to minor league camp. His first start of the regular season (for the Triple-A Norfolk Tides), the control problems were still there. He was constantly pitching out of trouble, but somehow managed to only give up 1 run in 4 IP. He continued to be his own worst enemy, walking 6 batters. In his two starts since then, he’s been making his case for being the first starter called up to Baltimore – 11 1/3 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 1 BB & 13 SO.
The middle infield in Norfolk is getting interesting. Scott Moore, who was just recently sent down, is seeing some time at shortstop. He was drafted as a shortstop back in 2002, but was quickly moved to third base. If he proves capable of at least being a reserve at the position he could offer an intriguing possibility, like only keeping one of the weak-hitting-tandem of Luis Hernandez and Brandon Fahey on the big league roster.
Eider Torres should be drawing a little more attention as well. He was never really considered as an in-house replacement for Brian Roberts, but the 25 year old second baseman has been the best hitter in Norfolk, hitting .356/.434/.422 in 45 AB’s. He probably won’t be considered a long term replacement for Brian Roberts, if he were to be traded, but if he keeps hitting like this he could be a stop gap or at least a useful bench player providing depth.
Jumping all the way down to Single-A Advanced, there are some top prospects getting attention for the Frederick Keys. The consensus is that 2007 5th round draft pick, RHP Jake Arrieta, was a first round talent (he fell due to sign-ability issues). He signed too late last year to get any professional innings, but the O’s sent him to the Arizona Fall League as a reliever to give him a taste of pro ball. He responded by pitching 16 scoreless innings. In 2008 he has picked up right where he left off. His 1st start was short due to low early season pitch counts, but it was an impressive line – 4 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB & 9 SO. His 2nd start was humbling – 2 2/3 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 4 BB & 2 SO. He responded with another superb outing last night – 5 2/3 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 3 BB & 7 SO. Arrieta should move quickly and is a nice addition to a farm system full of highly rated pitching prospects.
2007 1st round draft pick, C Matt Wieters, has been the most impressive player in this young season. He was named Carolina League Player of the Week (4/4-4/13) and is one of the hottest hitters in the country. He started his professional career off with a bang, hitting 2 homeruns in his first game, and has continued to rake ever since. He is hitting .478/.618/.913 in 23 AB’s, with 3 HR, 7 RBI and a 10/3 BB/SO ratio. He’s making quick work of the opposition and fans are already calling for him to be promoted to Double-A Bowie. However, he may not get promoted until mid-season so that he can focus on learning to play everyday over a long season, something he’s not accustomed to his first year out of college.
One quick thought on the Major League team:
I was very happy to see manager Dave Trembley stick with Adam Jones after his bad game on Sunday (0 for 4 with 4 strikeouts) and was even happier to see Jones rebound with a good game the next day (3 for 3 with 1 walk). Jones has a good head on his shoulders and admits that this is a learning time for him. As long as he keeps that in mind and doesn’t put too much pressure on himself to be a star right away, it’ll help greatly to shorten the slumps he’ll go into.