Hayden Penn: R.I.P. Great Orioles Hope

Jake RakeContributor IApril 1, 2009

The Hayden Penn Era in Baltimore will now officially never happen, as the once-prized right-hander, deemed “untouchable” by the Orioles during negotiations with the Marlins for a possible trade for A.J. Burnett in 2005, was traded to those very same Florida Marlins on Wednesday for Robert Andino, a shortstop with a career OPS of .549.

Penn’s jettison from the Baltimore organization is bittersweet, as while it is disappointing that he never panned out after dominating the minor leagues in the early-to-mid 2000’s and providing a glimmer of hope in the otherwise uninteresting Orioles farm system of the time, it is also symbolic of the McPhail Administration’s willingness to trim the fat left over from the previous regime and move on.

Penn looked like the real deal a couple of years ago, striking out more than a batter per inning over 130 2/3 Double-A innings as a 19- and 20-year-old in 2004-2005. After struggling for 38 innings over two stints in the big leagues in ’05, it was back to business as usual for the 21-year-old Penn, who posted a 2.26 ERA with 85 strikeouts against 27 walks in 87 2/3 innings in AAA in 2006. However, a September call-up would prove nothing short of tragic as Penn yielded 33 earned runs in 19 2/3 innings over six starts, lasting past the fourth inning just once and allowing a whopping 2.59 baserunners per inning. Jesus Christ.

2007 was somehow even more of a disaster for the right hander, as he managed to pitched just 40 innings over three minor league levels after undergoing an emergency appendectomy during spring training and then getting impaled by a shard of wood from a shattered bat while playing catch during rehab. There is nothing interesting to note about Penn’s 2008 campaign at Triple-A Norfolk, as he sucked so badly that he was unable to earn a single start for an Orioles big league squad that failed to trot out a single league-average starting pitcher not named Jeremy Guthrie.

So there you have it. Now 24 years old and rocking a career ERA of 9.31 with a career strikeout to walk ratio of 26:34 in the majors, I’m all but willing to write off Hayden Penn, the dude who is 4 months older than me and who upon meeting in 2005 forced me into realization that I would never be a major league ballplayer.

Sure, it would be cool to see the guy get it together in Florida, as he clearly possesses some degree of talent, but I wouldn’t count on it. Of course, the Marlins had little to lose in dealing Andino and his .299 career slugging percentage for a 24-year-old starting pitcher. He’ll fit right in with the Marlins’ legion of white dudes.

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