Don't look now, while the world is busy waiting for pitching Jesus to grace Nationals Park, the Orioles have quietly cut the deficit behind the Astros to 2.5 games.........for last place in the entire league. Although we have the inside track on the #1 pick in 2011, there does not appear to be a Bryce Harper or pitching Jesus. There has to be hope somewhere, right?!?
Let's see, the OPS's of Ma-not-so-kickass, Pacman, and Baseball Jesus, and Nolan Reimold currently sit at .839, .674, and .656 and .639. Nope, those aren't slugging % figures, those are slugging + on-base %......kill me. I've started calling Baseball Jesus "Blue Balls", because I get so excited to watch him hit every time, and all he's brought me is disappointment and pain. Even the O's top-2 hitting prospects are struggling at triple-A!
I do have some hope though, in the form of the cavalry, the O's bevy of pitching prospects that are poised to lead us to the promised land (aka slightly ahead of the Blue Jays). Here is a list of the talented group:
Brian Matusz - After a hot start, he has cooled-down considerably, but is still posting a better than 2:1 K-to-BB ratio, while allowing less than 1 HR every 10 innings. He is still just 23, and still looks like he will be an absolute beast. Now we just need 3-4 more starters and 9 hitters and we'll have something....The nickname Obi-Won for being our only hope still fits pretty damn well.
Brad Bergeson - Huuuuge disappointment here. I didn't exactly have him pinned as a future star, but thought we had a #3-4 starter after last year. His K/BB ratio has plummeted from 2.03 to 0.81, not good. He's also given up 8 HRs in 9 starts, whereas he gave up 11 in 19 starts last year. He is also just 24, but this is a large step in the wrong direction.
David Hernandez - Just put him in the bullpen already, he dominates the minors and gets shelled in the bigs. His funky delivery can only play in the pen.
Chris Tillman - The former #1 prospect of this group pretty thoroughly dominated triple-A to the tune of almost a 4/1 K-to-BB ratio. He still is susceptible to the long ball, which was evident in him giving up 2 HRs in his debut this season, but I know am moderately interested to watch at least 2 out of every 5 O's games.
Jake Arrieta - His star faded a bit last year, but that is a distant memory now. In a recent ESPN Insider article, he was listed as the #9 prospect for the remainder of this season. His K/BB ratio is only slightly below 2.0, but he has made up for it by only allowing 3 HRs in 71 innings of work (or as the ESPN.com guy who probably hasn't watched him play said, 'he's keeping the ball down'). He will be up this season for a look eventually, which will mean all of our 'big 3' will be up, and maybe to stay by the end of the year.
Troy Patton - He has been more of the same at triple-A, a 2:1 K-to-BB ratio and a low KK rate. The problem is that he has been giving up a lot of HRs this year, so is not ready for the bigs just yet, and definitely not ready to be the 4th or 5th starter on the O's next championship team. Yeah, I said it.....He is turning 25 this year, so the clock is starting to tick....
Brandon Erbe - He has a similar line to Patton, but an astounding 0-8 record. Fortunately, that is only slightly worse than the usual record for the MLB O's, so not a concern. He is only 22, but still is likely a bullpen guy long term.
Zach Britton - Arguably a better prospect than Tillman or Arrieta, he is 22 and doing just fine thank you at double-A. He is not ready for the big time, posting just over a 2/1 K-to-BB ratio and 4 HRs allowed in 59.2 innings. Remember that Britton is the same age as Erbe, just without the arm problems and crazy delivery.
It is still hard to say how any of these guys will turn out (see Phil Hughes, Homer Bailey, and any pitching prospect ever), but you still have to think that from Matusz, Tillman, Britton, and Arrieta we have the makings of a strong and cheap future rotation. Now if Blue Balls could go back to being Jesus.....
(Stats courtesy of espn.com, Norfolk Tides website, and Bowie Baysox website. Image courtesy of Baltimoresun.com)