Archive for November, 2009

Liz Claimed Off Waivers

November 25, 2009

Radhames Liz has been claimed off waivers by the San Diego Padres.

Liz getting claimed is not much of a loss. The Orioles tried to sneak him through waivers and the Padres decided to take a chance on him. He was behind a number of arms on the Orioles depth chart so theres no telling when he would’ve got another chance on the big league club. He has a live arm, but not much control as he falls off towards first base at the end of his delivery. San Diego has a pitchers park so maybe he can become a successful power arm out of the bullpen. With Liz claimed, the 40 man roster now sits at 39.

Top 25 Prospects: #1 – 10

November 23, 2009

1. Brian Matusz – LHP – 22 years old

A+ Frederick: 4-2, 2.16 ERA, 66.2 IP, 75 K, 21 BB
AA Bowie: 7-0, 1.55 ERA, 46.1 IP, 46 K, 11 BB
MLB Baltimore: 5-2, 4.63 ERA, 44.2 IP, 38 K, 14 BB

Matusz should be the front runner for AL Rookie of the Year in 2010. He has a chance to be the ace of the Orioles staff as soon as this coming season. Hes probably the best pitching prospect the Orioles have ever had. The Orioles saw a glimpse of the future at the end of 2009 and it should only get better from here.

2. Josh Bell – 3B – 23 years old

AA Chattanooga: .296/.386/.497, 30 doubles, 2 triples, 11 HR, 52 RBI
AA Bowie: .289/.346/.570, 5 doubles, 9 HR, 24 RBI

Bell should reach the big leagues by the middle of next season if everything goes right. A September call up at the latest. He needs to work on his hitting against left handed pitchers and may have to give up switch hitting, but he crushes right handed pitching.

3. Jake Arrieta – RHP – 23 years old

AA Bowie: 6-3, 2.59 ERA, 59 IP, 70 K, 23 BB
AAA Norfolk: 5-8, 3.93 ERA, 91.2 IP, 78 K, 33 BB

Arrieta dominated at AA Bowie, but struggled a bit at AAA Norfolk. He started to turn it around towards the end of the year and should learn from the experience. He could make it to the Orioles as soon as opening day if everything breaks right for him, but most likely won’t make his debut until later in the year.

4. Zach Britton – LHP – 21 years old

A+ Frederick: 9-6, 2.70 ERA, 140 IP, 131 K, 55 BB

Britton is a ground ball pitcher that can also strike people out. He got an incredible 3.38 ground out to fly out ratio in 2009. If he can keep that up as he moves up the ranks hes going to be at least a number two type starter. He’ll start at AA Bowie in 2010 and could move up to AAA Norfolk with a good start. A cup of coffee in September isn’t out of the question either.

5. Brandon Snyder – 1B – 23 years old

AA Bowie: .343/.421/.597, 19 doubles, 1 triple, 10 HR, 45 RBI
AAA Norfolk: .248/.316/.355, 18 doubles, 2 triples, 2 HR, 43 RBI

Snyder dominated pitching at AA Bowie and looked like he was on his way to blossoming into a great prospect, but he hit a wall when he got to AAA Norfolk. Apparently Norfolks stadium is a pitchers park that really takes away power in right center field, which is where most of Snyder’s comes from. Word is that Snyder tried to change his approach which really messed him up. He hit very well in the Arizona Fall League, so I wouldn’t be too worried. He’ll compete for the first baseman’s job in spring training, but I expect the Orioles to wait at least a few weeks before bringing him up.

6. Brandon Erbe – RHP – 21 years old

Short A Aberdeen: 0-1, 4.61 ERA, 13.2 IP, 11 K, 2 BB
AA Bowie: 5-3, 2.34 ERA, 73 IP, 62 K, 35 BB

Erbe battled shoulder fatigue in 2009 but still managed to have a successful year. He started out on fire at AA Bowie before being shut down for a while. He made four starts at Aberdeen to get his arm strength back and pitched good for the rest of the year when he got back to Bowie. He’ll most likely start out 2010 at AAA Norfolk and try to improve his command and off speed offerings. 2010 will be a chance for Erbe to prove that he can be a successful starter and not just a power arm out of the bullpen.

7. Matt Hobgood – RHP – 19 years old

Rookie Bluefield: 1-2, 4.73 ERA, 26.2 IP, 16 K, 8 BB

Hobgood was the Orioles first round choice in 2009. He got a late start pitching in the Orioles system and had to work himself back into pitching shape with the long layoff from the prep season. He struggled with his control, but showed flashes of his quality stuff. He has an excellent curve ball and throws hard. Hes a big guy that should become a workhorse starting pitcher. He’ll start 2010 at either Short A Anderdeen or A Delmarva depending on his spring.

8. Kam Mickolio – RHP – 25 years old

AAA Norfolk: 3-3, 3.50 ERA, 43.2 IP, 52 K, 16 BB
MLB Orioles: 0-2, 2.63 ERA, 13.2 IP, 14 K, 7 BB

As I said in my 2009 In Review, Mickolio had a very good campaign in 2009. Hes poised to be a mainstay in the back end of the Orioles bullpen. With a decent spring training he should make the 2010 bullpen and he’ll work his way up the ladder from there.

9. Brandon Waring – 3B/1B – 23 years old

A+ Frederick: .273/.354/.520, 35 doubles, 2 triples, 26 HR, 90 RBI, 5 SB
AA Bowie: .292/.414/.542, 3 doubles, 1 HR, 6 RBI

Waring came along with Justin Turner and Ryan Freel in the Ramon Hernandez deal to Cincinnati and it looks like hes going to turn out to be the jewel of the trade. He was the Keys best hitter all year and could’ve been promoted to AA Bowie sooner, but Frederick was in the playoff race. When he finally was promoted he didn’t miss a beat in limited at bats. In 2010 he’ll start at AA Bowie with a promotion to AAA Norfolk likely if he hits well enough. Maybe a cup of coffee in September with a spot on the bench in mind for 2011.

10. Caleb Joseph – C – 23 years old

A+ Frederick: .284/.337/.450, 23 doubles, 2 triples, 12 HR, 60 RBI, 2 SB

Joseph might’ve been higher on this list if the season ended after July. He was scorching the ball until hitting a wall in August. He only batted .156 in August over 77 at bats. It might’ve been a case of the season taking its toll on the catcher and he’ll have to get back to hitting in 2010 because thats where most of his value is. Hes a tall guy that still needs to work on his defense at catcher. He should start 2010 at AA Bowie.

O’s Claim Tatum; Other Roster Moves

November 20, 2009

The Orioles claimed C Craig Tatum off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds and designated LHP Chris Waters for assignment to make room on the 40 man roster. The reason we needed to clear room on the 40 is because we filled it up by adding RHP Brandon Erbe, RHP Luis Lebron, 3B Josh Bell, SS Pedro Florimon, 1B Rhyne Hughes, and 1B Brandon Snyder to the roster.

Grade: C

Tatum is just another candidate for the back up catchers job. He’ll compete with Michel Hernandez and whoever else the Orioles bring in for the roster spot. In AAA Louisville he batted .239/.300/.338 with 12 doubles, 3 HR, and 21 RBI over 213 at bats. He also had 68 at bats with the Reds to the tune of .162/.250/.221 with 1 double and 1 HR. Hes not going to give you much with the bat, but he was rated as the best defensive catcher in Cincinnati’s minor league system by Baseball America. Theres a good chance the Orioles will try to pass him through waivers themselves at some point in the offseason if we need to make room on the 40 man roster after a signing, a trade, or another claim.

Erbe, Lebron, Bell, Florimon, Hughes, and Snyder needed to be added to the 40 man roster to protect them from being selected in the Rule V draft at the winter meetings. There were a couple other players that I thought might’ve been protected but weren’t, most notably RHP Steve Johnson. Andy MacPhail doesn’t think he will be selected because he pitched mostly at A ball last year and he doesn’t have great stuff. Even if he was selected, I don’t see him lasting an entire year in an MLB bullpen. Maybe in another year.

2009 In Review: Right Handed Relievers

November 17, 2009

Brian Bass: 5-3, 4.90 ERA, 86.33 IP, 11 HR, 44 BB, 54 K, 1.74 WHIP, 5.63 K/9

Bass had a very inconsistent year pitching as the long man/mop up guy. He started off terribly (6.35 ERA over 17 IP in April) and the only reason he probably stayed on the team was it was so early on and there wasn’t really anybody to replace him with. But he turned it around and was very effective in May and June (1.65 and 3.07 ERAs respectively). Unfortunately he was back to being largely ineffective over the last three months (5.56, 7.64, 4.82 ERAs).

2010 Prognosis: I suspect Bass will be a 40 man casualty at some point in the offseason. We have a roster crunch with minor leaguers that need to be added to the 40 man roster and we have other pitchers that are better than Bass, or at least similar. If he doesn’t get released then he’ll compete for one of the last spots in the bullpen, but if he does I’m sure he’ll land on his feet somewhere.

Danys Baez: 4-6, 4.02 ERA, 71.67 IP, 8 HR, 22 BB, 40 K, 1.13 WHIP, 5.02 K/9

The Orioles didn’t expect much from Baez in 2009 after he didn’t pitch at all in 2008 coming off an arm injury. He couldn’t be used in back to back games for most of the year but he was a pleasant surprise. He was pretty consistent throughout the year, keeping his ERA anywhere from 3.00 to 4.50. He didn’t strike out as many batters as he used to, but he did a good job of getting ground balls and staying away from the homerun ball. He pitched alot of innings for someone with innings restrictions and it being his first year back from injury.

2010 Prognosis: Baez will be a free agent and I expect him to sign with another team in the offseason. He should be able to get a decent deal from somebody, but I don’t think it’ll be the Orioles. The O’s have alot of younger, cheaper options at this point.

Jim Johnson: 4-6, 4.11 ERA, 10 SV, 70 IP, 8 HR, 23 BB, 49 K, 1.37 WHIP, 6.30 K/9

Johnson was excellent in 2008 pitching out of middle/late inning relief and he was expected to continue that as the set up man in 2009. He was successful as the set up man, but he rarely seemed to have a clean inning. When George Sherrill was traded, Johnson moved into the closers role and started struggling. He was 10/16 in save opportunities and had a 6.65 ERA as the closer. He gave up eight homeruns in 2009 after only giving up one in 2008. It didn’t seem like he was getting the same sink on his fastball as the year before. Despite a decent stat line overall, it was a bit of a disappointing year for Johnson.

2010 Prognosis: I expect Johnson to be slotted back into the set up role and get back to what he was doing in the first half of 2009. I don’t know if he was pressing too much or what, but the closers role didn’t seem to fit him. Hes going to be an important part of our bullpen going forward.

Matt Albers: 3-6, 5.51 ERA, 67 IP, 3 HR, 36 BB, 49 K, 1.73 WHIP, 6.58 K/9

Albers was coming off a labrum injury, when he elected not to get surgery to repair in 2008. He had an inconsistent season to say the least. He started off badly in April (7.71 ERA) and was demoted to AAA Norfolk. He got himself righted and came back pitching great. (2.70 ERA in May, 1.15 in June, 3.68 in July) He was demoted again after a terrible start to August (24.00 ERA) and came back when the rosters expanded in September (5.40 ERA).

2010 Prognosis: Albers will most likely get a shot in spring training to show which guy from 2009 is the real version of him. As usual, I’m sure its somewhere in the middle. But if he can pitch like he did from May to July he would be a very valuable guy to have pitching the 6th and/or 7th innings. Theres also a chance he doesn’t make the team out of spring training.

Chris Ray: 0-4, 7.27 ERA, 43.33 IP, 8 HR, 23 BB, 39 K, 1.98 WHIP, 8.10 K/9

Ray was another pitcher coming off an arm injury. Although his season was pretty consistent… he pitched bad all year. Ok, he had one good month (2.12 ERA in August) after being demoted for most of July. He just seemed way too hittable. Everything he throws is hard and he just must not have had his usual movement on his fastball and not enough action on his slider. Its not unusual for pitchers to struggle in their first year removed from Tommy John surgery. He still showed the ability to strike out batters.

2010 Prognosis: Ray is in a similar situation as Matt Albers coming into spring training. He has to use the spring to prove that he can still be the pitcher from 2006 and early 2007. Its crazy to think, but he could be a roster casualty if the Orioles don’t think he can bounce back.

Cla Meredith: 0-0, 3.77 ERA, 28.67 IP, 3 HR, 12 BB, 16 K, 1.33 WHIP, 5.02 K/9

The Orioles traded for Meredith in July from the San Diego Padres in exchange for Oscar Salazar. It was a good trade for the Orioles. Salazar most likely won’t be anything more than a utility guy/pinch hitter, while Meredith could make a home in the bullpen for the Orioles. He struggled a bit in August after being traded (6.60 ERA), but was great in the last month of the season (0.90 ERA). Hes a ground ball pitcher who has had alot of success in the past. Hes not old, but he struggled a bit over the last couple seasons.

2010 Prognosis: Meredith should be a member of the Orioles bullpen throughout all of 2010 barring injury. He can pitch at any point in a game, he can pitch for multiple innings, and he can work in back to back to back games thanks to his easy almost underarm delivery.

Dennis Sarfate: 0-1, 5.09 ERA, 23 IP, 3 HR, 14 BB, 20 K, 1.52 WHIP, 7.83 K/9

Sarfate injured himself early in the season and was shut down for a solid three months before going on a long rehab stint and returning to the Orioles in September. He didn’t pitch good before he went on the DL (6.39 ERA over 12.67 innings) and wasn’t doing great for the first part of September either, but he did start to turn it around over the last couple weeks. His control is his biggest issue and it took him a while to get his velocity back up after coming back.

2010 Prognosis: Theres a very good chance Sarfate is released in the offseason, but I’d like to at least keep him around for spring training. He has some electric stuff when healthy and I think theres still some potential for him to be a good reliever. If he doesn’t show anything in the spring, then I would cut him loose.

Kam Mickolio: 0-2, 2.63 ERA, 13.67 IP, 0 HR, 7 BB, 14 K, 1.32 WHIP, 9.22 K/9

Mickolio had a very good 2009 campaign. In AAA Norfolk he pitched to a 3.50 ERA over 43.2 innings and had a 52/16 strikeout to walk ratio. Hitters only batted .203 against the tall right hander. When he was called up to the Orioles he showed flashes of brilliance with potential closer stuff. He had to be shut down a few weeks early due to shoulder fatigue, but it shouldn’t be of concern. I think it was more a matter of “better safe than sorry” for the promising pitcher.

2010 Prognosis: I think Mickolio will make the bullpen out of spring training. He could potentially take over the closers role as soon as some point in 2010, but he should be a solid late inning reliever regardless. With his height, hes pretty much right on you when the ball comes out of his hand. A very nice slider complements his mid to late 90’s heat.

Bob McCrory: 0-0, 17.19 ERA, 7.33 IP, 3 HR, 10 BB, 4 K, 3.68 WHIP, 4.91 K/9

McCrory has proven over the last two seasons that hes a AAAA player. Decent success in AAA (3.88 ERA over 62.2 innings) just doesn’t correlate to big league success for him. I don’t know if its nerves or what, but he has almost no control over his pitches when hes with the Orioles. He throws hard, but its a straight fastball which doesn’t work in the majors.

2010 Prognosis: He won’t see any time pitching for the Orioles. Hes already been removed from the 40 man roster. He’ll either pitch for AAA Norfolk or another organization in 2010.

Chris Lambert: 0-0, 4.76 ERA, 5.67 IP, 2 HR, BB, 7 K, 1.59 WHIP, 11.11 K/9

The Orioles claimed Lambert off waivers from the Detroit Tigers. Hes had success as a starter for AAA Toledo over the last two seasons (12-8, 3.50 ERA in 2008, 6-7, 3.55 ERA in 2009), but struggled in his three starts with AAA Norfolk (1-2, 6.94 ERA). He came up when the rosters expanded and pitched out of relief for the Orioles. He showed some promise and he could be an interesting guy to watch in spring training.

2010 Prognosis: Its most likely that Lambert starts 2010 in AAA Norfolk’s rotation, but depending on what happens he could make the bullpen out of spring training. He should see time in the majors as an injury replacement, either in the bullpen or the rotation.

Radhames Liz: 0-0, 67.67 ERA, 1.33 IP, HR, 2 BB, K, 7.52 WHIP, 6.77 K/9

Liz made one appearance for the Orioles in 2009 and got lit up. He was sent back down to the minors immediately following the game. Liz has fallen completely off the map after getting alot of major league innings in 2008. He pitched to a 5.68 ERA over 17 appearances (including eight starts) for AAA Norfolk and was eventually demoted to AA Bowie, where he pitched to a 2.63 ERA over eight starts.

2010 Prognosis: Liz has turned into an organizational filler kind of pitcher and will most likely pitch wherever the O’s need him in 2010. He could start anywhere from AAA Norfolk’s rotation to AA Bowie’s bullpen.

Adam Jones Wins Gold Glove

November 15, 2009

Adam Jones won the American League gold glove for outfielders. In other news, the Orioles signed C Michel Hernandez to a minor league contract.

Congratulations to Adam Jones for being the first Oriole to win a gold glove since Mike Mussina in 1999. Hes also only the second Oriole outfielder to ever win a gold glove, Paul Blair won eight of them. Hopefully this is the first of many for the young centerfielder.

Hernandez was playing in the Tampa Bay Rays organization over the last few years. Hes a no hit, good glove catcher. Just another candidate for the vacant backup catcher spot for 2010. He hit .196/.273/.196 over 46 at bats for AAA Durham in 2009.

2009 In Review: Left Handed Relievers

November 15, 2009

Mark Hendrickson: 6-5, 4.37 ERA, 1 SV, 105 IP, 16 HR, 33 BB, 61 K, 1.42 WHIP, 5.23 K/9

Hendrickson started the season in the starting rotation, but struggled in that role. In 11 starts on the year he pitched to a 2-5 record and 5.40 ERA. But he was much better coming out of the bullpen. He managed a 4-0 record and 3.44 ERA pitching in relief. His strikeout to walk ratio improved from 24-19 as a starter to 37-14 as a reliever. He was used in multiple roles – long man, situational lefty, one inning reliever. He became one of our most valuable relievers as the year wore on.

2010 Prognosis: Hendrickson is a free agent at the moment, but I fully expect him to re-up with the Orioles before long. He was simply too valuable for us to lose. He won’t cost much and we can use him in relief all year. Theres still a chance some team could come out and offer him more than we’re willing to, but Hendrickson has already expressed his desire to remain an Oriole and the Orioles have said they want to retain his services.

George Sherrill: 0-1, 2.40 ERA, 20 SV, 41.33 IP, 3 HR, 13 BB, 39 K, 1.14 WHIP, 8.49 K/9

Sherrill was very good for the Orioles in 2009. Not only was he our closer and best pitcher while he remained on the team, he potentially netted us our future cornerstone third baseman plus a pitching prospect when we traded him to the Dodgers before the July 31st trade deadline. Adding Josh Bell and Steve Johnson to the organization was a great parting gift. The trade helped both teams because Sherrill was absolutely lights out after he landed in LA. He was 1-0 with a 0.65 ERA for the Dodgers over 27.2 innings with 22 strikeouts. He was an important part of their bullpen as they made their playoff run and advanced to the NLCS.

2010 Prognosis: Sherrill will continue in his set up role for the Dodgers in 2010 in what should be another very good year for them.

Jamie Walker: 0-0, 5.11 ERA, 12.33 IP, 5 HR, 0 BB, 9 K, 1.54 WHIP, 6.57 K/9

Jamie Walker started the year as the situational lefty for the Orioles but couldn’t get out lefties, they hit  a combined .458 against him. He had trouble getting anyone out and was released in early June. Walker was in the final year of his three year deal signed by the regime before MacPhail came in.

2010 Prognosis: Walker will most likely be out of baseball in 2010. Maybe he signs a minor league deal somewhere or plays independent ball.

Alberto Castillo: 0-0, 2.25 ERA, 12 IP, 0 HR, 4 BB, 8 K, 1.33 WHIP, 6 K/9

Castillo started the year in AAA Norfolk and pitched great for them. He had a 2-3 record, 13 saves, and a 2.77 ERA for the Tide over 52 innings. He got more ground balls than fly balls and struck out 54 batters. He continued his success when he was called up to the big club. He ended the season as our lefty specialist and was a rare bright spot for the bullpen in September.

2010 Prognosis: Castillo earned himself a look in spring training to make the bullpen. It depends on who the Orioles add in the offseason and how he performs in the spring whether or not he makes it. At the worst he would be a very nice backup plan/injury replacement to stick in AAA Norfolk.

Sean Henn: 0-0, 9.00 ERA, 3 IP, 0 HR, 4 BB, 6 K, 3.33 WHIP, 18 K/9

The Orioles traded for Henn in September from the Minnesota Twins. He only pitched in three innings for us and didn’t impress much. He showed the ability to strike people out, but he was much too wild. He wasn’t good in Minnesota either, pitching to a 7.15 ERA over 11.1 innings. Hes basically a AAAA player at this point, successful in the minors but not on the big stage. He had a 2.33 ERA over 38.2 innings for AAA Rochester.

2010Prognosis: Henn was claimed off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays a couple weeks ago. He’ll compete for a spot in their bullpen in spring training.

Orioles Claim Gabino

November 9, 2009

The Orioles have claimed RHP Armando Gabino off waivers from the Minnesota Twins.

Grade: C –

I don’t know what to make of this one. Gabino is 26 and pitched mainly out of relief last year for AAA Rochester, although he did make seven starts. He was 6-4 with a 2.94 ERA over 98 innings, striking out 64 and walking 24. He also had two appearances with the Twins, accumulating in a 17.18 ERA over 3.2 innings. The O’s must like him as AAA depth with an outside shot at the Orioles bullpen at some point. Maybe we’ll turn around and try to pass him through waivers ourselves.

2009 In Review: Starting Pitchers

November 5, 2009

Jeremy Guthrie: 10-17, 5.04 ERA, 200 IP, 35 HR, 60 BB, 110 K, 1.42 WHIP, 4.95 K/9

Coming off back to back seasons with ERAs in the mid threes (3.70, 3.63) Guthrie was supposed to be the anchor of our staff and the only sure thing of the opening day starting rotation, but he just couldn’t get it going in 2009. Its kind of a mystery why he regressed so much, but there are a couple theories. Guthrie pitched in the World Baseball Classic in the spring and missed most of spring training. He never had much time to refine his pitches, but that doesn’t explain why he struggled over the course of the entire season. He did have that injury at the end of 2008 when he had to be shut down in September. There might’ve been lingering effects of that all year. There just didn’t seem to be the same movement on his pitches this season. The 35 homeruns he gave up led the american league. He had some encouraging starts towards the end of the year, so theres hope that he can bounce back in 2010.

2010 Prognosis: And I do expect Guthrie to bounce back some in 2010, but not to the same amount of success he found in 2007 and 2008. I think we’ll see him fall in between 2008 and 2009, somewhere around 4.40 – 4.60. But that would be very valuable if he keeps eating innings. He pitched 200 innings for the first time in his career and I think he’ll do it again next year. There is a chance Guthrie could be traded in the offseason, but it might be selling low so I could see us holding on to him and hoping he starts off good so we can look to deal him at the trade deadline.

Brad Bergesen: 7-5, 3.43 ERA, 123.33 IP, 11 HR, 32 BB, 65 K, 1.28 WHIP, 4.74 K/9

Bergesen was the surprise of the year. Mostly unheralded as a prospect despite having alot of success in the minor leagues. Scouts just didn’t think his stuff would play as good at the major league level. But hes a gamer and always finding ways to improve his game. He came up to the Orioles and worked with pitching coach Rick Kranitz, adjusting where he stood on the mound and fine tuning his breaking pitches. He gets alot of groundballs and has pretty good command so hes able to keep the ball in the park. He was looking like a rookie of the year candidate before he got hit by a line drive that hit off his upper left leg. It was scary at the time, but x-rays were negative. It was looking like Bergesen would only miss a few starts, but he ended up not pitching again in 2009.

2010 Prognosis: Bergesen should be ready for spring training. Being the hard worker he is, I don’t see him letting this kind of thing hold him back. In 2010, I expect him to continue to have success although I think his ERA will be somewhere between 3.75 – 4.50. Hes another guy that can eat innings and keep the team in the ballgame. He won’t strike out many batters, but as long as he keeps getting alot of groundballs he should be ok.

Jason Berken: 6-12, 6.54 ERA, 119.67 IP, 19 HR, 44 BB, 66 K, 1.74 WHIP, 4.96 K/9

Berken started the year in AA Bowie, but quickly got promoted to AAA Norfolk where he pitched to a 1.05 ERA over 5 starts. He got called up to the Orioles in late May and stuck around all year. Not that he necessarily deserved to. Berken was 2-11 at one point and struggled in almost every start. But he kept getting chances since there weren’t any other options. If nothing else it was a good learning experience for Berken. He should know what he has to do to improve.

2010 Prognosis: Berken will probably compete for the 5th starters spot in spring training, but I don’t think he really has much of a shot. I think he could be a good fit in the bullpen, either as a long man or turned into a Jim Johnson type. Remember, Johnson was a mediocre starting pitching prospect much like Berken at one point but was very effective in one inning stints out of the bullpen. If he doesn’t make it on the opening day roster he will mostly likely start in AAA Norfolks rotation until hes needed.

David Hernandez: 4-10, 5.42 ERA, 101.33 IP, 27 HR, 46 BB, 68 K, 1.62 WHIP, 6.04 K/9

Hernandez had a similar season to Jason Berken, just a notch better. He pitched very well at AAA Norfolk (3-2, 3.30 ERA, 57.1 IP, 18 BB, 79 K, .199 BAA) and was promoted to the majors in late May. He was sent back down after three appearances, but came back in late June and stayed in the rotation for the rest of the season. Hernandez was a bit inconsistent, had some trouble getting deep in games, but pitched really well for a rookie through August. He seemed to hit a wall in September (0-4, 8.67 ERA, 27.1 IP, 13 HR) seeing his ERA swell from 4.24 to 5.42. Hernandez has quality stuff and could be an effective starter if he can start to get his breaking pitches over for strikes and starts to pitch down in the zone with his fastball.

2010 Prognosis: I think Hernandez’ spring training performance will decide where he starts off in 2010, maybe moreso than any other pitcher. If he shows enough improvement he could win the 5th starters job. He could also win a spot in the bullpen, alot of scouts think hes going to end up as a late inning reliever. Or if it looks like he still needs some refinement, he could start out in AAA Norfolk’s rotation.

Koji Uehara: 2-4, 4.05 ERA, 66.67 IP, 7 HR, 12 BB, 48 K, 1.24 WHIP, 6.48 K/9

Uehara was the Orioles biggest splash in free agency last offseason and also the first time they’ve signed a Japanese player. Most teams saw Koji as a reliever in the majors, but the Orioles signed him to be in their rotation. It looked like the Orioles might’ve made a good decision after the first two months, but then the injury issues started to form. When he was healthy, Koji pitched very well and was probably our best starter. But his small frame and age (34) wouldn’t allow him to pitch that many innings. He was hurt in his start on May 23rd, came back for three more in the middle of June, but had to be shut down again after his June 23rd start. He didn’t come back in 2009.

2010 Prognosis: Uehara will turn to relief in 2010, much like most teams predicted. I think Koji could be very effective out of the bullpen and I could even see him as the Orioles closer in 2010. He’ll need to prove that hes healthy in spring training and will probably need to be used carefully in the beginning of the year. He could be versatile in relief, pitching anywhere from one to three innings at a time.

Chris Tillman: 2-5, 5.40 ERA, 65 IP, 15 HR, 24 BB, 39 K, 1.55 WHIP, 5.4 K/9

Tillman began the year as our third best prospect behind Matt Wieters and Brian Matusz and he did nothing to disprove that. As a 21 year old in AAA Norfolk he pitched outstandingly (8-6, 2.70 ERA, 96.2 IP, 26 BB, 99 K). He was brought up at the end of July and had his share of struggles but seemed to get better with each start through the end of August. Then September hit and had a similar effect to Tillman as it did to David Hernandez (1-3, 7.30 ERA, 24.2 IP, 5 HR). Despite the rough finish, which is only natural seeing as the minor league season ends a month earlier, Tillman showed alot of promise. He has one of the best curveballs from a right handed pitcher that I’ve ever seen, he just needs to be more consistent with it. He learned a change up that shows alot of promise this year. In fact it might’ve been his best pitch most nights out. He needs to work on his fastball command and maybe get some more movement on his pitches but I like what I see from the kid.

2010 Prognosis: Tillman will enter the 2010 season around the bottom of the Orioles rotation. I’d look for improvement as the year goes along. Hes pitched well everywhere hes been so I wouldn’t count out a big year from him, but I expect an ERA of around 4.65. If he can do better than that, it would be a big step for the Orioles.

Brian Matusz: 5-2, 4.63 ERA, 44.67 IP, 6 HR, 14 BB, 38 K, 1.48 WHIP, 7.66 K/9

Matusz wasn’t supposed to see the major leagues in 2009. He started the year at High A Frederick where he dominated over 11 starts (4-2, 2.16 ERA, 66.2 IP, 21 BB, 75 K). He was then promoted to AA Bowie where he dominated even more (7-0, 1.55 ERA, 46.1 IP, 11 BB, 46 K). The Orioles had no choice but to call him up when they needed to grab a starter from the minors on August 4th. Matusz pitched well in his first start, then struggled over the next four. The nerves died down and something seemed to click after that 5th start. Over his last three starts of the season he was pretty much lights out (3-0, 2.14 ERA, 21 IP, 4 BB, 15 K). The 22 year old has five pitches that are all above average and he knows what hes doing out there. Some minor improvements I’m sure could be made, but the kid has the arsenal and mental toughness of a big league ace.

2010 Prognosis: Matusz is our best starting pitcher right now. I expect nothing less than the AL rookie of the year award in 2010. He’ll probably start the year as the third starter (behind Guthrie and Bergesen), but I think he’ll clearly be the ace before long. I think Matusz is going to go down as one of the best starting pitchers in Oriole history. I may be jumping the gun a bit, but he is going to be a big part of future Orioles teams and it starts now.

Rich Hill: 3-3, 7.80 ERA, 57.67 IP, 7 HR, 40 BB, 46 K, 1.87 WHIP, 7.18 K/9

The Orioles traded for Hill last offseason, basically getting him for nothing. He was one of the best pitchers in the NL in 2007, but had physical and mental issues in 2008 and just wasn’t the same pitcher. The Orioles acquired him hoping he could bounce back to what he was in 2007. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. Hill showed flashes of brilliance and he has an outstanding cuve ball, but he was just too wild and didn’t use his fastball effectively enough. He started the year on the DL after some discomfort in spring training and had to be shut down after his July 27th start with more arm issues.

2010 Prognosis: Hill is now a free agent after the Orioles outrighted him to AAA Norfolk and he declined. He could still sign with the Orioles, but I don’t see that happening. He’ll get a minor league deal from somebody and hope to get another chance in the majors.

Adam Eaton: 2-5, 8.56 ERA, 41 IP, 9 HR, 19 BB, 28 K, 1.83 WHIP, 6.15 K/9

Eaton started the year in the Orioles starting rotation and was just terrible from the very beginning. Most people knew it wouldn’t work out after it was announced we had signed him during spring training. But the O’s needed an arm for the rotation until some of the prospects were ready. He had one good start out of eight and was released after his start on May 21st.

2010 Prognosis: Hopefully nowhere near the Orioles organization. Eaton pitched in four games for the Rockies in August. Maybe he gets a minor league deal somewhere, who knows.

Alfredo Simon: 0-1, 9.95 ERA, 6.33 IP, 5 HR, 2 BB, 3 K, 1.58 WHIP, 4.27 K/9

Simon also started the 2009 season as a part of the Orioles rotation, but it was short lived as he was injured in his second start and had to be shut down for the season. He wasn’t effective in his limited time and has more value in the bullpen, although still not much. It was an unfortunate way for his season to end, but he would’ve been replaced after not much longer anyway.

2010 Prognosis: The Orioles outrighted Simon to AAA Norfolk and he accepted the assignment. I would imagine he pitches in the bullpen for them in 2010 and doesn’t see any time in the majors unless there is a real emergency.