Matt Angle is not the kind of guy that would likely ever publicly say anything negative about his organization or teammates, but when he had praise for the Orioles on his way out of the organization Thursday afternoon, it sure sounded heartfelt and sincere.
"I felt like I had great coaches and great people that actually cared about (me) all along the way," Angle said by phone from Ohio yesterday. "That is from the training staff to the on-field coaches to your strength and conditioning. I felt that everyone treated me fairly within the organization and I didn't have a bad experience with any coach or anyone in development."
Until he was claimed via waivers by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday, the Orioles were the only major league organization Angle had ever known. They drafted him in round seven out of Ohio State in 2007. After playing in 532 minor league games, at every stop between short-season Single-A Aberdeen and Triple-A Norfolk, Angle made his big league debut last July.
The news that he was leaving one team for another was still very fresh when we spoke yesterday.
"First it was an exciting thing, knowing you will have a new opportunity from a team that wanted you and that claimed you," he said. "But this will be a completely different environment. I will be leaving a lot of people I have known, but I'm excited to be a Dodger."
Angle had five seasons with the Orioles and took time to thank the organization for bringing him to the majors and those in the minors that helped him along the way.
"Butch Davis (outfield coordinator) really preached a lot of fundamentals and getting your work in and making sure you did things right in the outfield," Angle said. "Denny Walling (hitting instructor) was someone I was able to work with pretty much at every level and learned a lot from him.
"You develop different relationships with different coaches. Kennie Steenstra, who is a pitching coach (at Double-A Bowie), I really got along with him well. Was able to bounce a lot of different ideas about where to play different hitters and how they are going to pitch. He was somebody that I really respected."
Angle is proof that you can be drafted and developed by the Orioles and make the majors. No, he was not a star, but the odds are big time against any drafted player making it. You can check the math on that.
"I would definitely say so (a young player can make it with Baltimore)," Angle said. "From my personal experience I had some great relationships and got some really good instruction along the way."
In 31 games last year with the Orioles, Angle hit .177 with one homer, seven RBIs, 12 runs and 11 stolen bases in 12 chances. He hit his first major league homer off Detroit's Justin Verlander on September 24. Making the majors, he said, lived up to his expectations.
"It was an exciting time," Angle said. "Anyone that plays, dreams of being in the majors. It was fun and we won some games from late-August into September. Overall, it was a really great experience.
"I didn't find that players' attitudes were down (late in the season). I felt like everyone was still competing and playing hard every day and putting in all their work and playing hard all the way through that last game."
Angle looks forward to trying to make the Dodgers as he reports to LA's camp today in Glendale, Ariz. Maybe his skill-set will suit him better in the National League with the double-switches and more pinch running and pinch hitting that takes place there.
"That is something I've been told by different coaches, that they feel like I would be better suited in the National League. Only time will tell. I'm not really sure what to expect," he said.
Players change teams all the time in this game and now you can add Angle to a long list that has gone through that. But he leaves behind some friends and good memories as he moves on to the next chapter.
"I made a lot of good friends and there are friends in the organization that I'll have forever," Angle said. "Joe Mahoney and I got drafted and signed together in Baltimore and played together.
"From a playing standpoint, I'm just grateful for the opportunity the Orioles gave me. They drafted me and I felt like I had a fair opportunity at every level. I don't have a bad thing to say about them."
This is worth a read: We have discussed in this space a few times how tough it can be these days to be an Orioles fan with the team working on 14 straight losing seasons and with the club taking shots daily from the national media, it seems. But sometimes we can spend so much time focusing on what we don't have that we forget to appreciate what we do have.
Here is one fan's look at the 10 best things about being an Orioles fan, authored by Stacey Long of Camden Chat.