• Jan
    06

    Uehara signing a good start for the O's

    The Baltimore Sun is reporting and MASN's Roch Kubatko has confirmed that the Orioles have signed Japanese right-hander Koji Uehara. The Sun is reporting the club signed the pitcher to a two-year, $10 million, incentive-laden deal that could go up to $18 million if the 34-year old can fulfill the incentives.

    I like this signing for a number of reasons, the main one being the last time I checked we had Jeremy Guthie and four question marks in the rotation going into 2009. Now we're down to three.

    Seriously though, this is a guy that Orioles Director of International Scouting John Stockstill scouted and recommended so it's not like the Orioles were guessing off his stats that he'd be able to get major leaguers out.

    Some are concerned with the fact that Uehara was demoted to the Japanese minor leagues while also spending time in the bullpen last year, but some also believe he was demoted due to his desire to pitch in the major leagues. There's a lot of politics in Japanese baseball and I can certainly see him getting punished for publicly wishing to pitch in the majors while still under contract with a top Japanese club.

    Either way, Uehara reportedly has great command of a low 90's fastball with good movement and offsets that with a fantastic forkball and cutter. After watching some Youtube videos of him pitching, he looks like he does a very good job of changing the eye level of the batter and moves his fastball up and down and in and out of the strikezone. His forkball is a strike out pitch with great late bite, but the one concern I have is he'll need to throw it for strikes because most of the forkballs that I saw were down low and out of the strike zone. If Major League hitters don't think he can get that over for strikes they'll lay off the pitch. His third pitch appeared to be a cutter or possibly a little overhand curveball. It was a below average offering, but if he can throw it for strikes and out of the middle of the plate, and it's something a few miles and hour off his fastball, it could give batters something else to look for and allow him to get through a lineup three times.

    Considering the starting options out on the market as well as the Orioles current situation in which they’re looking for some starting pitching that can bridge the gap to Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, and Chris Tillman, Uehara looks like a solid signing. There are valid concerns whether his stuff will make it as a starter, but as long as he has the command, he's got enough movement on his pitches that I believe he can be an effective back of the rotation starter with a chance to be better if he gets that forkball over enough.


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Tony Pente

Tony has owned and operated Orioles Hangout since 1996 and is well known for his knowledge of the Baltimore Orioles organization from top to bottom. He's a frequent guest on Baltimore-area sports radio stations and can be heard regularly on the 105.7 FM The Fan. His knowledge and contacts within the Orioles minor league system and the major league baseball scouting industry is unparalleled in the Baltimore media and is known as an expert on the Orioles prospects.

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