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Six storylines to follow in the minors this year

While fans ponder if the Orioles can make a run for .500 or better this year, there are plenty of reasons to follow the O's in the minors this season as well. Some delight in pointing out negatives surrounding the club and, after 12 straight losing seasons, there are plenty of issues to overcome and problems in the O's past. But the Orioles are on

Looking into Andy MacPhail's comments about wins and losses

To me, some fans have misunderstood Andy MacPhail's comments from last October when he said Dave Trembley would be judged on wins and losses starting this year. How many more wins does MacPhail expect from the O's this year? Good luck getting an answer to that question. He is not ready to put a number on it and why would he? You don't want to

Zagone wants to start '10 how he ended '09

If you want to pick a pitcher who could have a breakout year in the O's minor leagues this season, you could do a lot worse than selecting Rick Zagone. The 23-year-old lefty went 5-8, 4.89 last year in 25 starts covering 131 innings between Delmarva and Frederick. He started well, going 4-3, 1.92 through May with Delmarva. And he finished very strong, pitching to

Will Lingo on the O's top prospects

Baseball America released its 21st annual top 100 Prospects list on Tuesday, the publication's ranking of the best talent in baseball among minor leaguers or players with less than 130 Major League at bats, 50 innings or 30 big league appearances. Four Orioles made the list with Brian Matusz at number 5, Josh Bell at 37, Zach Britton at 63 and Jake Arrieta at 99.

Carolina League batting champ hungry for more success in 2010 (plus prospects note)

Almost no matter how you look at it, Robbie Widlansky had a remarkable season in 2009. One that began with disappointment in April and ended with a Carolina League batting title. For an encore, he'll try to put up numbers this year at Bowie as he's likely to start the season in the Double-A Eastern League. The lefty hitter, an O's 11th-round draft pick in

Will it get tough for some of the youngsters?

There are many clichés in sports and certainly in baseball, too. "You win with pitching and defense." "It's a marathon, not a sprint." "You can never have enough pitching." "A walk's as good as a hit." OK that last one is from little league and not heard too often in the American League. Here's one that is just not true. "As a young player, he

Brian Cashman: The Orioles are a sleeping giant

Give Yankees general manager Brian Cashman credit. He took time this week to go on the Scott Garceau show on MASN and 105.7 FM, the Fan, appearing on the Orioles flagship radio and TV outlets. Cashman, I'm sure knowing what audience he was speaking to, was very enthusiastic in his comments about the Orioles. Yet his comments sounded quite sincere and he didn't just seem

The MLB world is watching the Mauer negotiations

He has won three batting titles, two straight Gold Gloves and is the reigning American League Most Valuable Player. He has done all this before his 27th birthday. Joe Mauer is baseball's best catcher and an amazing force on offense and defense. He is also said to be a great guy, one that will likely never show up in the headlines to discredit his team

O's minor league spring training schedule

The O's today released their minor league spring training games schedule. As I mentioned in a post last week, the Triple-A and Double-A clubs will play their home games at the Ed Smith Complex, while the class A clubs will play their home games at the Buck O'Neil Complex at Twin Lakes Park. Date Club Opponent Time Location March 17 AAA/AA Tampa Bay 1:00 Ed

B-Rob sounds excited

As he gets ready to begin his 10th season as an Oriole, Brian Roberts says he's excited to see how some of the young O's players progress this year. He's also excited to see the O's new spring training digs in Sarasota. "To me it (the new facility) is re-energizing. We are looking forward to having the major and minor league guys in the same

More with Hobgood

Earlier today in this space we published an article on O's pitcher Matt Hobgood. The 19-year-old right hander was taken with the 5th pick in round one of last June's draft. He went 1-2, 4.73 in eight starts last summer at Bluefield. After the year he was named as the 4th best prospect in the Appalachian League by Baseball America. Hobgood has joined other pitchers

Hobgood arrives early at O's minor league camp

Minor league pitchers and catchers are not scheduled to officially report to the O's Twin Lakes Park complex in Sarasota until March 2nd, but several players arrived early to get a jump on the season. That list includes last June's first-round pick, right hander Matt Hobgood, who has been in Sarasota since February first. The 19-year-old that the O's selected with the fifth overall pick

Self proclaimed underdog emerges as a top O's pitching prospect

This time last year, O's minor league pitcher Zach Britton was just starting to get noticed. Now, after a 2009 season where he was named Carolina League pitcher of the year, it seems everyone knows his name. He was rated recently by Baseball America as the Orioles third-best prospect. The reason for his success could be his outstanding power sinker. Or his fastball that can

Pondering and wondering

Do you ever wonder: *Why some fans and posters here keep asking if the Orioles are going to sign more players? Haven't the O's indicated they are pretty much done at this point. It doesn't mean something can't happen but it seems unlikely. But still fans wonder if the O's are talking to Johnny Damon, Hank Blalock, Jarrod Washburn and on and on. *If anyone

It's not Britton's time yet

He is rated by Baseball America as the number three prospect in the entire O's organization and last year was named the Carolina League pitcher of the year. Despite the accolades and new found fame, 22-year-old lefty Zach Britton did not get an invitation to Major League spring training with the Orioles this year, although there had been talk that he might get one. "I

Will there be a spring training suprise?

Each March, it seems, there are one or more players that surprise us all and make the Orioles Opening Day roster or make it down to one of the final cuts. Will there be a surprise out there this year? It seems unlikely with the O's 25-man roster pretty set before the club even reports to Sarasota. But that's why they play the games. There

Spoone looks forward to a healthy and successful 2010

In 2007 he pitched in a Frederick Keys rotation that included Brad Bergesen, David Hernandez, Jason Berken and Brandon Erbe. He went 10-9, 3.26 for that Keys team which won the Carolina League championship. He went 2-0, 1.00 in two playoff starts, pitching a complete game when the Keys beat Salem to clinch the title. But since then Chorye Spoone's fast track to the Majors

One man's division realignment plan

In recent years whenever someone has suggested to me that the Orioles try to relocate to a division other than the AL East, I have been completely against it. Not that a team can just say 'we want to move' and MLB will grant its wish. But I have liked the fact that the O's bang heads with some of baseball's best teams in what

Wondering about Wieters (plus the Baysox plunge)

The Orioles clearly have their catcher of the present and future now solidly in place in Matt Wieters. But one key question concerning Wieters for the 2010 season is this one - how heavy of a load can he carry in terms of games played? If Wieters gets one day off per week, he would play in about 138 games. Last year, between Norfolk and

Stockstill on Guzman and more

Earlier this month the Orioles signed Joel Guzman, a former Dodgers number one prospect, to a minor league contract. The 25-year-old Guzman, who was a minor league free agent, did not get an invite to Major League spring training. The 6'5", 245-pound, right-handed hitter batted .281-12-57 in 108 games at Double-A Harrisburg last summer and hit just .121 in 12 games at Triple-A Syracuse with

O's get back in Venezuela

As the Orioles continue to upgrade their international scouting, the organization is now trying to become more of a player in a nation that has produced many Major Leaguers through the years - Venezuela. O's Director of Player Development David Stockstill has just returned to Baltimore from a four-nation, 17-day scouting trip that took him to the Dominican, Colombia, Curacao and yes, Venezuela. He scouted

More from Billy Rowell

Earlier this week in this space, I presented a story on O's minor leaguer Billy Rowell. Rowell talked about his recent swing change and attempt to get his bat going this season after two poor years at the plate at Frederick. Here are some more quotes from the 21-year-old on other topics. What is Rowell's take on reports he has a poor attitude? "I hear

The future Orioles payroll

There are those who call the Orioles "cheap" because they didn't spend on a big name free agent this year. Others say this wasn't a top free agent class and the time wasn't right for the O's to make a move like that. Some look at the Orioles' payroll and see plenty of room for future spending. I won't argue that point. I expect the

A swing change has Rowell excited about the 2010 season

After struggling for two straight seasons with the Frederick Keys of the Carolina League, O's minor leaguer Billy Rowell is making a change. He made some adjustments with his swing during instructional league workouts in September and October. "I went back to my old swing from high school. You have to stick with what works. There are a lot of ideas but at the end

A conversation with the Orioles new closer (with audio)

Like his idol, Nolan Ryan, new O's closer Mike Gonzalez is a strikeout pitcher. Last year, with Atlanta, Gonzalez fanned 90 in 74 1/3 innings. In his career he averages 10.6 strikeouts for every nine innings pitched. The great Ryan averaged 9.5 per nine. With some young starting pitchers on the staff, O's president Andy MacPhail said the O's needed a reliable closer to hold

Should O's fans have concerns about Chris Tillman?

The one pitcher in the O's projected starting rotation for this year whose position seems a bit shaky heading to camp is Chris Tillman. Some feel he needs more minor league experience and have concerns that he seemed to struggle last year after some initial Major League success. After going 8-6, 2.70 in 18 starts at Triple-A, the right hander made his Major League debut

Jonesy's potential

When fans and media talk about some young Orioles players and how they can improve in the future they seem to mention players like Nolan Reimold, Matt Wieters and Brian Matusz. It almost feels like Adam Jones is a veteran after two years and 251 O's games. But at 24, Jones points out he still has plenty of room to grow as a player. At

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