• Apr

    Thoughts on the O's and the minors

    First off let me apologize for not writing since last week. My life has been very busy and will remain busy until after we move back to Maryland, buy a house, and settle in. Until then, I’ll get as many of these as I can out, but I can’t promise to get them out too often.


    Some thoughts on the O’s so far


    I’m writing this while the Orioles are in the 6th inning against the Indians up 10-8. (Mora just doubled to lead off the inning). This has been an interesting game so far to say the least but it does give me an opportunity to share some thoughts on the O’s so far.


    Overall, I think most people ought to be happy with the O’s start, even after last night’s debacle. Realistically, it’s hard to say that nothing hasn’t gone to script so far other than the poor start by Bruce Chen. Daniel Cabrera, and Rodrigo Lopez have been inconsistent, Kris Benson has been solid but not spectacular, and Erik Bedard looks a lot like the pitcher we expected him to become. Chris Ray has been great, Latroy Hawkins solid in setup, and after that it’s mix and match. (Tejada singles to right with Mora being held up by Teblehorn. Probably could have scored Mora there, but it’s smart with no outs and two run lead to hold up there.)


    One thing that scares me though is the defense. Tejada is struggling to make plays to his right and his arm doesn’t look that strong any more. Add in Gibbons’ limited range in right, and Millar’s shaky defense at first base, and we will have to hope the others can pick things up. (Gibbons just crushed a three-run homer to right to make it 13-8…BTW, has Gibbons seen more than three pitches in an at bat this year? OK, I know he has because has two walks, but man has he become a hacker. Luckily he rarely strikes out, but I sure would like to see him go deeper in counts.)


    Offensively, even with the big night tonight, I’m a little worried since our 1B/DH, two traditional power positions are mainly manned by Kevin Millar and Javy Lopez. I’d prefer Millar be platooning with big left-handed hitting power first baseman and Lopez has never hit while anything but a catcher. Lopez looks a little better tonight with the two doubles so hopefully he’s just off to a slow start. As for Millar, there’s a lot of statistical proof that says if the O’s run him out there everyday he’s not going to be a productive first baseman. (BTW: Is it just me or does the 13-8 score look a lot like a Ravens-Browns game?)


    It’s good to be at Ottawa if you are a pitcher

    I know Ottawa gets a lot of grief from players due to the cold weather in the early part of the season and the lack of fans, but I tell you what, if you are a pitcher not in the major leagues, Ottawa might be the best place to be pitching right now. Of course this has more to do with the Orioles current pitching situation more than anything. John Halama, Cory Morris, and Eddy Rodriguez have already gotten the call from the Lynx and Bowie’s Chris Britton was brought up from Double-A as well. Anyone who has seen Halama’s stuff can’t see him lasting the entire year and Britton, who was just in Single-A this time last year, may be up a little to early in his development. Add in Jim Brower and his 10.13 ERA and if you are pitching well in Ottawa, you have to imagine you could get the call at anytime.


    So who are some candidates? Well, there are a few guys that certainly could get into the bullpen mix in Baltimore before the year is out. Winston Abreu (95 MPH fastball) has been lights out (2.00 ERA, 14K, 1BB, 9IP) so far and Julio Manon (0.45, 9K, 1H, 2BB, 6.1IP) has five saves in six games of work. Andy Mitchell the submariner (seven shutout innings) could also be in the mix, especially if Williams doesn’t come back strong soon. They are all 1-2 inning guys that could figure into the O’s plans somewhere. Long guys could be Morris (1.50), Brian Burres (0.00, 8 IP) the left-hander pick up in waivers this off season, and Chris Piersoll (0.00, 7K, 6IP).


    (It’s now 18-9 Orioles which means it’s no longer like a Ravens-Browns game. 18 points would be way too many to expect from a Ravens offense..I kid, I kid…but not really.)


    Look around the Minors


    Before I take a quick look around, don’t forget to take a look at the Prospect tracker. It’s updated as of today and also don’t forget the Orioles tracker which was taken over by Paul Folkemer. If you read his recaps, you know his tracker should be good as well.


    OTTAWA: I’ve already talked about most of the Lynx pitchers so let’s look at the offense. 3B Fernando Tatis (.371/.452 OBP/.657 SLG) has started off hot and could end up in Baltimore if he keeps hitting this way. SS Brandon Fahey (.845 OPS) has also gotten off to a quick start in his Triple-A debut while C Eli Whiteside (.115 AVG, .265 OPS not OBP) keeps trying to hit his into becoming an organizational catcher.


    BOWIE: OF Cory Keylor (.367,1, 5) who has largely been a disappointment after a quick start in the minors has gotten off to a quick start, as has free agent signee OF Tony Alvarez (.304,3,14). Of Jeff Fiorentino injured his ankle and has missed almost a week. Fiorentino was batting just .235, but had hit two homers and walked five times to two strikeouts at the time of his injury. Like last year, Adam Loewen has been inconsistent this year. He tossed a gem in his opening start only to get hit hard in his last two starts. His control hasn’t been the big problem (20K - 4BB) this year but he’s been tagged for three homers and 17 hits in his 16.1 innings. His ERA sits at 5.51 after three starts. On the bright side, Marino Salas (1.35, 6K, 6 IP) has been fantastic as closer.


    FREDERICK: It’s certainly too early to say I told you so, but Radhames Liz is making us look pretty good for putting him in our top ten after last season. Liz has allowed just two hits and four walks while striking out 22 in ten shutout innings of work so far. He’s held batters to a .065 average with his mid-90s fastball and sharp curve. OF Jarod Rine struggled last year batting just .209 with 17 extra base hits in 419 plate appearances in Frederick last year. So far this year it’s been a different story with him batting .369 with six extra base hits in his first 46 plate appearances.


    DELMARVA: It’s been a tough road for the former Ball State football player, but Lorenzo Scott Jr. has parlayed an extra shot into a hot start. Due to an injury to Danny Figueroa, Scott was given a shot at the Shorebirds center field job and he’s put up a 1.053 OPS over his first nine games. Even better, he’s walked eight times to only five strikeouts. In bad news in the plate discipline department, Brandon Snyder has hit .319 with a .522 slugging percentage through his first ten games but has also put up an ugly 12 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio. Hopefully the amateur umpires filling in for the striking minor league umps has something to do with that figure.

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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.