...you know, the future of the organization. So if everyone can lighten up about Kevin Millar and his supposed "slap in the face" to Baltimore Oriole fans everywhere (sarcasm) maybe we can start talking about on the field performances. Great.
Hawaiian Winter League
Remember all the drama over whether Matt Wieters would get signed? Well now he's playing his first professional games and the Oriole blogosphere seems not to notice. (OK, OK, I'll get off my soapbox...) Wieters is playing for the Honolulu Sharks along with a few other young Orioles this winter and has been for almost three weeks now. For those of you not familiar with the Hawaiian League, it's where major league franchises are sending some of their top low-level talent for seasoning. Nobody there has played above A-ball. So how is everyone doing?
Matt Wieters - Matt's not exactly tearing the cover off the ball yet but is hitting a very respectable .298 and OPS'ing 829. No homers yet but he does have 6 doubles and is being very patient at the plate (8BB to 5K's so far) which is always encouraging for a young hitter.
Brandon Snyder - The O's former catcher-of-the-future has distinguished himself so far (an understatement) by hitting .378 (good for third in the league) and slugging .568 so far. Only 1 homer through 12 games but has rapped 2 doubles and a triple for the Sharks. I guess he's really gotten over his injuries?
Others of note: A couple of lefty pitchers are shining in relief as Brett Bordes has posted a 2.70 ERA and Chad Thall has a 2.13 ERA. Thall has 10 K's and 5 BB to boot...Reliever Ryan Ouellette has struck out 11 over 12.1 innings but is sporting a rough 7.30 ERA as well...IF/OF Miguel Abreu is hitting a mere .200 but is among the league leaders in steals with 5 and has yet to be caught.
Arizona Fall League
There is less to look at here since most of the Oriole's upper level prospects are perhaps not really very good but there are a couple bright spots. The AFL features top prospects from various organizations who are usually at the AA or AAA level.
Jake Arrieta - 2007 draftee has been pitching well in relief (although I think the O's envision him as a starter) for the Phoenix Desert Dogs. Over 8 innings Arrieta has a 0.00 ERA, 6 K's and 3 walks. It speaks volumes that Baltimore sent him to Arizona and it will speak volumes more if he continues to find success against the best players in the minors. He could be in Baltimore sooner than anyone realizes.
Nolan Reimold - He's only hitting .206 at the moment but is slugging .500 with 3 HR in just 11 games. Reimold is a long shot to be on the big club for sure but in 2009 he could be the answer in leftfield...if he stays healthy.
Jim Johnson - I can't figure out if I'm just selling this guy short but he continues to have success at almost every level he pitches. (Well, relative success for expectations...) Another Oriole starter being deployed in relief, Johnson is 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA in 5 appearances for Phoenix.
Others of Note: Hayden Penn has been lit up in two starts (that only lasted 3.0 innings total) and is stuck with a 21.00 ERA...Jeff Fiorentino is hitting just .100 and a weak one at that...Bob McCrory has gathered 4 saves in the early going and has posted a 1.93 ERA
It's certainly no consolation but O's fans still have something to root for! The Phoenix Desert Dogs are leading their division with an 8-3 record and Honolulu is 10-8 and leading the East division in Hawaii. It's not much but it's still more constructive that griping about Kevin Millar.