O's 3rd-round pick missed 2009 but is healthy now

While awaiting tonight's draft developments...

The Orioles are excited that their third-round draft pick, pitcher Dan Klein of UCLA, should be pitching sometime soon for the Aberdeen IronBirds.

Klein was 6-1, 1.90 with ten saves for the Bruins team this year that made the College World Series.

It was a big year for Klein as he showed the scouts he was healthy after he took a redshirt year and didn't pitch for UCLA in 2009.

Klein missed some time the previous season as well due to shoulder soreness, but is healthy and sound now and was one of the college game's best closers this season.

Gil Kubski is the California-based scout that followed Klein for the O's the last few seasons.

I asked Kubski about Klein's shoulder issue that led to him taking the red-shirt year in 2009.

"He came up with discomfort in his shoulder. It was a bit of a weakness he developed his freshman year. He went to Dr. Yocum and they did a full exploratory (arthroscopic procedure) and they found nothing wrong whatsoever. There was a little scar tissue there they addressed," Kubski said.

"While he was in there he looked at the entire shoulder capsule and he said it's in tremendous shape. So this is a pitcher we have where one of the best in the world has seen it from inside (the shoulder) and said he's extremely healthy. They took a real cautious direction (at UCLA) his sophomore year which made him a redshirt sophomore this year."

The 22-year-old Klein began the 2010 college season with 20 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings and later pitched to an ERA of 0.93 in six post-season games.

Kubski said Klein has four pitches that he commands well. A fastball that has been clocked from 90 to 94, a change-up, a hard curve and a knuckle-curve.

Klein is expected to pitch in relief with what is left of the minor league season this summer, but be a starting pitcher next year.

"He has four pitches, they all play above average and he commands them all extremely well. That to me is not a bullpen guy. Most bullpen guys have two dominant pitches. Dan's repertoire is so extensive that he's a starter," Kubski said.

Kubski is certainly high on Klein's potential as a pitcher but said he was very impressed with Klein the person as well as he got to know him.

"He's naturally real quiet. It's not that he's shy, he's just a little reserved. He watches what is going on around him, but he's a fiery competitor. He was recruited as a quarterback out of high school by Cal-Berkely. So he's got that kind of toughness and leadership skills.

"The more you are around him, he just grows on you. He demands and earns respect in a very short period of time. You just see how he goes about his business and you respect him instantly. He's a hard worker and very focused and prepared. He's a likable young man, too. There is not a lot of ego, but there is pride and confidence in his ability to be successful."

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