Tillman and Hobgood take the mound tonight

He may or may not make his next start in Baltimore, but Chris Tillman is scheduled to make a start tonight for Triple-A Norfolk at Gwinnett.

O's Director of Player Development David Stockstill said it is anticipated to be a "normal" start and we should not expect to see Tillman pulled after just a few innings.

After pitching in a doubleheader last Friday, Wednesday would have been Tillman's usual day to pitch, but he was bumped back a day.

"Sometimes you give a young kid an extra day when you can. It worked out to do that this time," Stockstill said.

Tillman is 8-5, 2.42 in 17 starts for Norfolk.

He is tied for 3rd in the International League in wins and is 4th in ERA and strikeouts.

"He's made a lot of progress. Made great progress with command of his pitches and getting deeper in games with his pitches. He's just come along real nicely."

In his last three starts, the 21-year-old Tillman is 3-0, 0.44. Stockstill said it's been some of Tillman's best pitching of the year.

"Yes, it has. He just keeps getting better and he's on a real roll right now. It's a pleasant surprise to see someone this young and this inexperienced do so well at Triple-A so soon. You hope to see this but you can't expect it."

Tillman is at 93 innings right now and the most he has pitched in one season is 136. Do the O's have a final innings tally in mind for Tillman for this season?

"You usually don't want to jump someone over 20 or 25 more innings than what he had the year before. We'll take care of him. He threw a lot of pitches in innings early in the year, it's not always just the innings, but the number of pitches, too."

The rookie pitchers called up this season by the O's have all shown solid poise and composure. Stockstill said Tillman scores very high in those departments as well.

"Chris is right at the top of the scale in his makeup and poise and the way he handles himself on the mound, even in adverse conditions. He's right at the top of the scale."

Stockstill said any word on Tillman's possible promotion to Baltimore would have to come from another part of the O's front office.

While Chris Tillman's minor league days could be coming to an end, Matt Hobgood's are just starting.

This year's O's first-round pick will start tonight for Bluefield at home vs. Greenville in his second pro outing.

He is scheduled to throw from 40 to 50 pitches.

Last Saturday, in his debut, Hobgood pitched one inning vs. Johnson City. The right-hander from Norco, California gave up two hits and one run, throwing 22 pitches that night.

"His stuff was much better than his numbers," Stockstill said. "He kept the ball down and had good movement. The numbers didn't quite do him justice."

His velocity, which can touch the mid to high 90's at times, averaged around 90 in that first outing.

"That's normal. You generally see a little less velocity after they sign than before. They are getting into a throwing program, they're not use to the work every day. They are doing more than before so that all is normal."

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