In the Baltimore Orioles organization, three names stand out in the minor leagues. Each one has individually aided in placing the tag of “No. 1 farm system in baseball” on the Birds.
This trio consists of lefty Brian Matusz and righties Chris Tillman and Jake Arrieta.
Matusz, the Orioles 2008 first-round draft pick, has been lights-out in 2009, going 10-2 with a 2.06 ERA and 114 strikeouts.
Many, including myself, believe this young southpaw is the future ace of staff in Birdland, as his ability to command all four of his pitches has drawn comparisons to 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels.
Tillman, the youngest of the bunch at 21, has also made his mark with the Norfolk Tides. Thus far this season, he is 8-6 with a 2.70 ERA and 99 strikeouts.
He is the closest to reaching the big league level out of the three, as many are anticipating the 6’5 righty’s callup next week against Kansas City.
Finally, we have Jake Arrieta. Arrieta, who many scouts believe could have the most potential out of the Cavalry, has flown slightly under the radar that Matusz and Tillman have created; however, his efforts have not gone unnoticed.
He is 9-7 so far, maintaining a 3.35 ERA and recording 113 strikeouts. Many fans are hoping to see him get the call to the bigs some time in August.
While we speak about when we will finally see these three names on the back of an Orioles’ uniform, there are three young, live arms already in the Birds’ clubhouse.
So who are they?
Here’s a clue: They are not pitchers.
In fact, the O’s are showcasing the power arms of several young stars as we speak.
They all currently reside in the outfield of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Whether it be rookie Nolan Reimold in left, 23-year old Adam Jones in center, or the recently signed Nick Markakis in right, one thing is for certain: I highly suggest not trying to advance a base when these guys have the ball in their hands.
This group currently leads the American League in outfield assists with 23, and star of the show Nick Markakis leads all MLB fielders with 11.
So do you want to try to run on them now?
If you still think you can pull it off, let’s take a look at some of these youngsters’ brightest moments with the glove.
We take Nolan Reimold against the White Sox for example. With runners on first and second, rookie Chris Getz lined a base hit into left field. Paul Konerko, the team’s starting first baseman, tried to score. This did not work out so well.
Another instance comes from Adam Jones. With none out and no one on, Chone Figgins of the Los Angeles Angels came to the plate against former Oriole Jamie Walker.
Figgins laced a liner over Jones’ head in center, and he had triple in his brain from the moment it left the bat. Not in this outfield, bud.
Jones quickly made the strong throw to shortstop Cesar Izturis, who relayed the ball to third baseman Melvin Mora for the out.
And how could we leave out the play that Nick Markakis made just last night against Boston.
With leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury on second base and two out, second baseman Dustin Pedroia lined a ball into Markakis country. The O’s right fielder then made a line-drive throw to the plate to deny the speedster of a run.
So as we can see, the Baltimore Orioles have another trio of young arms in their system.
Sometimes you just have to look away from the mound to find them.