Right-hander Matt Hobgood reported to the O’s minor league camp several weeks early this year and his goal was to make the Delmarva starting rotation this season.
The 19-year-old that the O’s selected with the fifth pick in round one of the draft last June, will head north this weekend with the rest of the Shorebirds.
“I’m really excited about my first year of long season ball,” Hobgood said. “We should have a really young team and I’d like to think a lot of us could move up the system together. We may have one of the younger teams in the Sally League.
“Camp has been really good. All my starts I’ve been around 88 to 90 and topping at 92. That’s a lot harder than I was throwing last year at Bluefield. My arm strength is beginning to catch up after throwing every day. It’s coming along well.”
Hobgood went 1-2, 4.73 in eight Bluefield starts last summer. At the end of the year, he was rated the 4th-best prospect in the Appy League by Baseball America.
“I feel better than I’ve felt since probably at high school. Joe Jordan was watching me throw BP and said that’s the best I’ve seen your curve.
“My two-seam had some run on it, the curve was pretty sharp. My change has come along a lot after basically not even throwing one in high school. I really feel I’ve made some strides in the last six months.
“The velocity is there for sure now. I’m about where I was going into high school season last year. No one will be in mid-season form early on. It’s not all about velocity, but if you can add some with location, that’s good.
Hobgood, who will not turn 20 until August 30th, estimates he threw about 60 pitches in his last start. He was expected to throw around 80 or so in his last spring start.