Higher expectations: Brian Matusz or Manny Machado?

Here is an interesting question to ponder and debate. Do Orioles fans have higher expectations this season for Brian Matusz or Manny Machado?

Matusz will, of course, pitch in the major leagues while Machado is set to begin his first full year in the O's minors. A lot is expected from both. Each are among the biggest stars currently in this organization.

Matusz showed perhaps a glimpse of his future in his final eight starts last season when he went 6-0 with an ERA of 1.57. The club went 8-0 in those games, with five coming vs. AL East teams.

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Matusz went 5-4 with a 3.13 ERA last year in 13 starts against Boston, Tampa and New York. If he can beat those teams, he can beat any team.

Talk about a fast rise through the farm system. Matusz has now pitched 113 innings in the minors and 220 1/3 in the big leagues.

As for Machado, a lot of fans seem to be expecting nothing short of a dominating season from him this year. He is expected to begin the season as the shortstop for the Delmarva Shorebirds.

Machado was recently rated as the 26th best prospect in baseball by ESPN's Keith Law, 24th best by MLB.com and 14th by Baseball America.

Baseball America executive editor Jim Callis said it was impressive for Machado to be rated so highly even before he played a full year in the minors.

"Definitely. We sometimes hear that we jump on the bandwagon or put too much faith in young players, but who is a better shortstop prospect in the minor leagues right now? I don't even think it's close," Callis said.

I have to say, it's a concern of mine with how an 18-year-old kid will deal with all the expectations. While Matt Wieters faced enormous expectations in his first year in the O's farm system in 2008, he was also older at that time than Machado is now and also had three seasons of college baseball already under his belt.

So who do you think will deal with higher expectations from the fans this year - Matusz or Machado? How will they deal with this? Could the high hopes make it as tough on those players as their opponents will try to make it for them?

Tune in tonight and tomorrow: It has been a little while since I have had the chance to host a sports talkshow, but I get the chance the next two nights. Join me tonight from 8 p.m. to midnight and tomorrow from 7 p.m. to midnight when I host a show on 105.7, the Fan in Baltimore. I will certainly be talking a lot about the Orioles and it would be great to hear from some of the readers of this blog. Hope you can tune in.

Come on out this Monday: Join me along with Jen Royle and Pete Kerzel from MASNsports.com as we host another Orioles chat with fans Monday at Hightopps in Timonium. Come on out and talk O's with us and then join us to watch the first MASN telecast at 7 p.m. as the Orioles meet the Yankees.

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