I kind of came to this conclusion long before yesterday, but being at Perdue Stadium on Tuesday afternoon and night reinforced the thought: The Delmarva Shorebirds are going to be an exciting young team to watch this year and that team may have a heckuva season in 2012.
Led by a young pitching staff filled with good arms, some of the organization's top picks from the 2011 draft and a speedy outfield, I think there is a decent chance that Delmarva, which is 10-8 now, could really take off over the next month or two and make a run for first place in their division of the Single-A South Atlantic League.
Sure, Dylan Bundy is the headliner among the pitchers, but he is far from the only young talent that the Orioles are closely watching in Salisbury. Zach Davies and Eduardo Rodriguez are, like Bundy, still just 19. Parker Bridwell is only 20, while Tim Berry and Matt Taylor are 21. Pitchers like Williams Louico and Jose Nivar figure to post some impressive readings on that radar gun as the Orioles try to develop them into complete pitchers with more than a fastball. There are others that look good on that staff, too.
The organization decided to put some pitchers like Chalas and Rodriguez there even though - save for a few innings - they hadn't pitched above the Gulf Coast League. Both have legit talent and will enjoy working with a pitching coach like Troy Mattes, who seems to really relate to those guys. The fact that Chalas is from the Dominican Republic and Rodriguez is from Venezuela is a nice bonus in that this organization hasn't produced much talent from outside the U.S., as we know.
Glynn Davis and John Ruettiger are both off to good starts and will ignite that order in the top two batting spots, steal bases and chase down a lot of balls with their speed in the outfield gaps.
Guys like Jason Esposito, Nicky Delmonico, Connor Narron and Mychal Givens should make nice progress from their infield spots.
Gabriel Lino is a 19-year-old catcher from Venezuela that has been trusted with handling that talented pitching staff. The fact the Orioles put Lino there at such a young age and with no full-season ball under his belt before this year speaks volumes about what they think about him. Mattes has been very impressed with how he has done so far.
It doesn't take long during a conversation with Shorebirds manager Ryan Minor to see how excited he is about this team. Beyond their talent, he loves their collective work ethic, coachability and what Buck Showalter would call "want to."
I'll say this to the fans: If you desire to see an O's farm team filled with exciting young talent, you should "want to" get to Salisbury pretty soon if you have a chance.