• Mar

    Spring observations from Sarasota

    Even though it was “only” 60 degrees yesterday, it was a great day to be Ed Smith stadium yesterday, especially if you were an Orioles fan.

    If you’ve never been to Ed Smith stadium in Sarasota, you need to remedy that quickly. It’s a great new stadium that offers up plenty of opportunities to get close to major league ball players. It’s like a going to a minor league game, but major league baseball players on the field.

    Ok, onto my observations:

    Ubaldo Jimenez

    It was hard not to like the initial look at the Orioles new acquisition. He didn’t have his top velocity, sitting mostly between 89-91 MPH on his fastball, but he showed good deception and movement on the pitch. His splitter got swings and misses and he threw a nice back door slider for strike three.  It will be nice to see his velocity increase as spring moves along but I like the assortment of pitches and command.

    David Lough

    Honestly, I think left field duties are his to lose and it’s not necessarily close. Lough (pronounced “Low”) has shown already how important his range in left field will be to the club and he throws pretty good as well. That should be a nice addition after  the “Damonesque” arm that McLouth had out there last year that allowed clubs to score from second on almost already single to left last year. Lough seems to work the count well and his ability to run should enable him to be an effective leadoff guy if he can get on base enough. With Nolan Reimold and Nelson Cruz probably more suited to be DHs, Lough should see the vast majority of playing time in LF with maybe the occasional day off against a tough lefty.

    Nick Markakis

    Markakis was unbelievably hot yesterday hitting everything he swung at sharply. He does look a bit bigger and he looks to be moving a step quicker this year as well. This is basically contract year for Markakis and there is little doubt he looks primed for a comeback year.

    Delmon Young

    Seems like even when he makes out he hits the ball hard. Young has shown good power to right field and is certainly making a case for himself as the right-handed LF/DH extra hitter. I’d like to see him and Cruz get some playing time in left field in order to see which one would be better out there when Lough needs to sit against a tough lefty.

    Jonathan Schoop

    If this guy stays at second base he has to be one of the biggest second basemans I’ve ever seen. He’s absolutely huge. I watched him take infield and BP this morning with mixed results. During BP, he just doesn’t move like you normally see second baseman’s move. He so darn big, he doesn’t have a lot of range though I wonder if part of it is just seeing a guy that big play there. He seems effective at turning the double play and clearly has enough arm strength, but he’s going to have sub par range and there’s little he’s going to be able to do to help that out as he grows older. Offensively, his power is obvious to not only left and left center, but right center as well. He gets good back spin that helps his balls carry. He’s been hot this spring, but one scout told me the other day he struggled when he saw a steady diet of sliders. Now Adam Jones still struggles with sliders so this is not necessarily a red flag, but it will be interesting to watch the rest of the spring.

    Michael Almazar

    Nice thought, and if the Orioles could get him in a trade and keep him he wouldn’t be the worse guy to add to the system, but he’s nowhere near ready offensively or defensively to help this club. The sooner they send him back the sooner they can get playing time for guys who may be able to help the team this year.

    Brian Matusz

    Don’t let yesterday’s box score full you, Matusz threw pretty well overall and had one of his better changeups. He still needs to pound the zone more but he should be fine back out in the bullpen again in 2014.

    Miguel Gonzalez

    Buck said Gonzalez is fine, just a bruise after taking a ball of his shin. He may be back on the mound Tuesday if no complications creep up.

    Eddie Gamboa

    It’s interesting to see a guy throw 91 MPH then throw a 60 MPH knuckleball.  Gambia varies the speed on his knuckleball between 60-75 MPH. His two-seamer sits between 89-91 MPH which increases the effectiveness of the knuckleball but he needs to spot the pitch. His change was a decent pitch but I’m not sure it’s effective when mixed in with a knuckleball. Either way, I could see Gamboa getting an opportunity at some point this season, even if it’s in a long reliever role.

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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.