O's sign player from Guatemala

O's sign player from Guatemala
His name is Manuel Hernandez and the 17-year-old is the first player the Orioles have ever signed from the country of Guatemala. He has played outfield and infield for his national team and was signed last Friday by the O's during a ceremony that made big news in his homeland. No player from Guatemala has ever made the Major Leauges and Hernandez is just the seventh to ever sign with a big league club. He is a 6'1", 170-pound right handed hitter and thrower.
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What's next for Billy Rowell?

What's next for Billy Rowell?
Billy Rowell, the 9th pick in the first-round of the 2006 draft, is becoming a bit of a problem for the O's organization. His stats are declining each season. Worse yet, some Keys' observers this year questioned his effort and work ethic. Others said he was far from the most popular player in the clubhouse. Somewhere amidst all of this there is massive power potential that remains untapped. He has hit just 16 homers in two full seasons in the Carolina League.
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Tillman talk (plus Eastern League rankings)

Tillman talk (plus Eastern League rankings)
Chris Tillman said the 2009 season was quite a special one for him. It began with him as a Triple-A rookie at the age of 20 and ended with the 21-year-old Tillman picking up Major League wins vs. the Angels and Yankees. "I've grown a lot," Tillman said. "Coming into this season, I didn't have much of a changeup, didn't have much of a clue about how to hold runners on. I had only Double-A time. I've come far with my changeup. I've come farther than I expected to this year." After...
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David Stockstill comments on his new role

David Stockstill comments on his new role
The Orioles announced today that David Stockstill will officially begin in his new position as the club's director of international scouting on April 5th. Stockstill, who has headed up the O's minor league operations since November of 2004, is in Florida now and will remain there through early April to help setup the club's minor league rosters. In his new role, David will oversee all the club's international operations, including scouting in the Far East, Latin America and beyond. He...
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O's minor league notebook

O's minor league notebook
While the Orioles Major League season is over, about 60 O's minor leaguers continue to take part in instructional league workouts in Sarasota, Florida. The group is made up of mostly players from the O's lower minors and, as the title says, players get instruction on aspects of their game that needs improving. They also play about 15 games vs. players from other organizations. O's director of player development, David Stockstill, said the workouts, that come to an end next Friday, have...
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Wondering about the corners

Wondering about the corners
It is a big question for the O's front office to answer at some point. Do they already have their future players at first and third base in house, or do they need to go bat shopping at one or both of those positions? And, what if Josh Bell is the future at third and Brandon Snyder the future at first, but neither is ready on opening day, 2010. Then what? The O's seem pretty sold that Bell could be the heir apparent at third. But he has not yet played at Triple-A ball.
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Rising star in the O's Minors

Rising star in the O's Minors
We're talking about a coach, not a player. But a coach that has had a major impact on some key O's minor league pitchers for two years now. Norfolk pitching coach Mike Griffin was the winner of the 2009 Cal Ripken Sr. Player Development Award. It goes to the person who best exemplifies the qualities of the late O's coach and manager. Griffin joined the O's organization for the 2008 season and was immediately matched with some of the club's top young arms at Bowie. The Baysox were...
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How do O's young pitchers stack up?

How do O's young pitchers stack up?
In this space yesterday, I featured Mike Griffin, the O's minor league pitching coach who spent most of the last two years tutoring pitchers like Chris Tillman, Brad Bergesen, David Hernandez and Jason Berken. They made up the bulk of his pitching rotations at Bowie in 2008 and Norfolk this past season. All four pitchers made the Majors this year and were happy to give Griffin a lot of credit for his help. Griffin has a track record of developing Major League pitchers. While in the Boston...
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O's rally late on Baseball America lists

O's rally late on Baseball America lists
It may not be quite as exciting as a bottom of the ninth come-from-behind win, but the Orioles made a late rally on Baseball America's top 20 minor league prospects lists. When I wrote about this last Wednesday, the Orioles had just three players named among the top 20 of five different leagues. But, with a late rally, the O's had three players named on Double-A lists and three named in the International League.
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A temporary Angels fan

A temporary Angels fan
One way to tell you are somewhat of a die-hard O's fan. When Boston was eliminated in the post-season, you either shouted out loud or muttered under your breath "take that Red Sox nation!" Next year when they parade into the Yard acting like winning is their birth right, remind them they won as many playoff games this year as the Orioles did. There was a time when a small part of me wanted to see the AL East teams win in October. But no more. If you are like me, after years of watching...
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Griffin on Arrieta, Patton and more

Griffin on Arrieta, Patton and more
Norfolk pitching coach Mike Griffin has been featured in two of my blogs this week. In his two years in the O's organization, he has made quite an impact on some of the O's top, young pitchers. In this entry today, he talks about some hurlers not addressed in those earlier stories. How did Jake Arrieta do for you this year and what is his outlook for the future? "Jake came to us at the half-way point and really learned a lot of things he needed to get done at Triple-A. He put some...
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Goodfellas (minor league version)

Goodfellas (minor league version)
I'm borrowing a blog idea from Roch today. He recently wrote about some of the all-time good guys he has covered working the O's beat. From 2004-2006 after I left WBAL Radio, I had the pleasure to be the play-by-play guy on the radio for the Aberdeen IronBirds. I count it as one of the special experiences of my life. I met some great people, worked for great people, and saw some neat places and towns along the way. I enjoyed just about every minute of it.
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Pondering Questions

Pondering Questions
Some O's questions to ponder while marveling and wondering why Mariano Rivera is just about the only closer out there not yet to melt down in the post-season:
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Markakis on the youth and O's future

Markakis on the youth and O's future
Nick Markakis has had four very solid seasons as the O's right fielder. Before he put the 2009 season to bed, he shared some thoughts on the year and the club's future. He believes the current crop of young players is solid and the club's future is bright.
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Brandon Snyder on his big game and goal to start at 1B for the O's

Brandon Snyder on his big game and goal to start at 1B for the O's
Not long after he finished up a monster game at the plate in the Arizona Fall League, Brandon Snyder was on the other end of the phone line. He was talking about his 7-RBI day on Wednesday. But before long the conversation shifted to the 2010 season. If the O's have an open competition for their first base job, Snyder is determined to emerge the winner and first base starter come opening day for the Orioles.
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Snyder on his struggles at Norfolk

Snyder on his struggles at Norfolk
It was a bit of a mystery from the Orioles minor leagues during the 2009 season. How could Brandon Snyder hit so well at Double-A Bowie and go on to struggle when promoted to Triple-A Norfolk on June 19th?
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O's farmhand leading hitter in World Cup

O's farmhand leading hitter in World Cup
While fans in the United States were taking stock of pennant races in the Major Leagues in September, three O's minor leaguers were raising their stock by performing well in baseball's World Cup in Europe. Paco Figueroa, who hit .305 this year in 62 games at second base for Bowie, went 17 for 34 for Spain and led the entire 20-nation tournament in hitting. Paco batted .500 with a homer, 8 RBI, 10 runs and four steals in ten games, helping Spain advance to the second round.
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Monday morning thoughts

Monday morning thoughts
Three Oriole prospects in the Arizona Fall League have been hitting so well to date it makes you wonder about the quality of pitching they are facing. Plus, the Phoenix team has ten .300 hitters at this early stage. But still, of the club's four .400 hitters, three are Orioles with Josh Bell at .464, Matt Angle at .406 and Brandon Snyder at .400. Snyder leads the club with 15 RBI, Bell with four doubles and Angle is tops in runs and steals.
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A question of character

A question of character
When the Orioles acquire a player, should they consider the character of that player? When looking to add a player through trade, free agency or the First-Year Player Draft, is it mostly about talent, or should character come into play? Do fans care about having a team full of good guys or do you just want hits, homers and wins? It's a complicated question and one that probably provokes different answers for different players.
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And the Oriole award for mental toughness in 2009 goes to...

And the Oriole award for mental toughness in 2009 goes to...
...Jason Berken. I have respect for anyone good enough to ever put on a Major League uniform. But during the Orioles' 2009 season, I gained a ton of respect for pitcher Jason Berken. As the losses mounted for Berken, so did speculation that he'd soon be headed back to Triple-A. For a while there, his fate seemed to hang on every pitch. And some of those pitches hung as well, ending up in the left field seats.
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