Orioles Future Looks Bright with Embarrassment of Pitching Riches

Joe BrownCorrespondent IMarch 21, 2010

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 12: Brian Matusz #52 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches against the New York Yankees on September 12, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

The Baltimore Orioles return to glory isn't too far away considering the stockpile of pitching talent they have ready to take over. In fact, should they be in contention by this year's trade deadline, the mere depth of the impressive arms in their system should allow Andy MacPhail and his staff the pieces to acquire the "over the hump" type of player teams in a playoff hunt look to acquire.

Brandon Erbe, RHP

Hard-throwing hometown prospect has matured quickly since Baltimore took the high-school pitcher in the ’05 draft.

Erbe can dial it up in the mid-to-high 90s and has a devastating slider as his two out pitches. He’s developing a changeup and has the movement on his pitches to average over a strikeout per inning in the big leagues.

In 2008, the lanky right-hander led the Carolina league in WHIP (1.13) and strikeouts (151).

Zach Britton, LHP

Only three days older than Erbe, this 22-year-old was also a third-round selection coming directly from the prep ranks.

Britton improved by leaps and bounds as the O’s deliberately transitioned him slowly throughout their system, mostly between the Appalachian League and Penn League.

Back-to-back seasons of steady progression have seen Britton rise up towards the top of Baltimore’s astonishing collection of young pitching talent. He doesn’t throw as hard as some of the guys on this list but he appears to have started to grasp the “art of pitching” and led the league with a 2.70 ERA.

Jake Arrieta, RHP

Drafted in the fifth round of the ’07 draft, Arrieta Is another O's power pitcher with immense talent. He possesses a slider capable of inducing embarrassing swings at the pro level.

He can touch the high 90s with his fastball and is adding a changeup to his arsenal.

Arrieta led the Carolina league in ERA and his ridiculously low .199 average against was good for a top five ranking.

Brian Matusz, LHP

A former 2008 first-round pick, Matusz is going to become a household name this season as a polished lefty with four plus pitches of which he’s not afraid to use at any point in the count.

I like the motion in his delivery which features a bit of deception and that combined with his unpredictable pitching sequence spells trouble for AL East hitters.

Matusz and Tillman should anchor an exciting O’s rotation for the next five to seven years and return a proud organization back to the top of the American League.

Chris Tillman, RHP

With a nice balance of right and left-handed pitchers, the Orioles have the option of alternating each style during a series to keep opposing hitters off-balance.

Tillman has a lively arm and his fastball sits in the low 90s, but he can reach back and touch 95-96 mph too.

His next best pitch is a good curveball and he’s working on effectively changing speeds with a changeup. Once he can add a reliable, big-league third pitch—watch out!

One thing I noticed about him was his demeanor or presence on the mound. He reminds me a little bit of the Detroit Tigers young ace, Rick Porcello. Both pitchers are quiet but obviously aggressive and fearless pitchers.



Baltimore has two other fairly young, but still impressive hurlers in  Brad Bergesen and David Hernandez to round out one of the most impressive collections of arms in MLB.