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June 30, 2010

Tillman adds two seamer; Reimold could miss a few games

In his bullpen session a couple of days before last night’s start, Triple-A Norfolk right-hander Chris Tillman worked with Tides pitching coach Mike Griffin on adding a new pitch to his repertoire – a two-seam fastball.

Tillman threw about four of them during last night’s outing in which he surrendered three runs (all on solo homers), six hits and two walks while striking out seven Charlotte batters over 6 2/3 innings. None of them were for strikes, but Tillman said that he was satisfied with the movement that he was getting on the pitch.

“The first game out, I was just trying to get it to move and I was missing down and away,” said Tillman who has allowed four earned runs in 12 2/3 innings since his demotion back to Norfolk. “But I can see the potential there. I need to build confidence in it. I’m still playing with some grips.”

Tillman’s four-seam fastball tends to be extremely straight, and team officials have encouraged him to use a cut fastball or try to throw a two-seamer, which gets downward movement when thrown correctly. Tillman said he threw about seven cutters last night, but both the cutter – and the two-seamer – are works in progress.

“My [four-seam] fastball is fine when I locate it,” Tillman said. “But my two seamer will help me get away with more, especially when my velocity is up.”

Tillman, who was struggling to break 90 miles per hour in his last outing with the Orioles against San Francisco before he was sent down with an 8.40 ERA, said he looked up at the scoreboard a couple of times last night and noticed he hit 93 and 94 on occasion. He reiterated that his velocity issues were more a result of him thinking too much, rather than focusing on making quality pitches.

In other Triple-A Norfolk news, outfielder Nolan Reimold didn’t play last night and could miss a few games as he deals with a family matter, according to a team official.

The bad news for the Orioles is that their second pick in this month’s draft, UCLA right-handed pitcher Dan Klein, gave up the game-winning hit in South Carolina’s College World Series-clinching victory over the Bruins on Tuesday night. Whit Merrifield’s RBI single in the 11th inning produced a 2-1 victory for South Carolina and the school’s first national baseball championship.

The good news is Klein, the Bruins closer who the Orioles drafted as a starter, otherwise pitched well in the game, allowing one earned run on one hit and two walks while striking out four over 3 1/3 innings.

And now that UCLA’s season is over, the Orioles can work on agreeing to terms with Klein and the other two Bruins that they drafted - left-handed pitcher Matthew Drummond in the 20th round and outfielder Blair Dunlap in the 43rd round.

It sounds like Klein won’t be too difficult of a sign, which bodes well for getting this done quickly.

Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 1:55 AM | | Comments (13)


It verges on an impossibility that Tillman, who has been pitching all his life, and professionally for the last several years, has just begun to discover a two-seam fastball. Most kids begin throwing this pitch in Little League. How a two-seam fastball is "developmental" at this stage of Tillman's career is beyond me.

When did the two-seamer fall out of a pitcher's standard repetiore? I am not a negative troll, but am completely befuddled (and more so saddened) that Tillman does not have command of a two-seamer -- one the most basic , yet effective pitches.

Jeff Z's reply: I'm nearly two decades removed from my Little League days Jake, but nobody I played with or against was throwing a two-seam fastball. But again, that was a long time ago.

Klein looked good. He was a one inning pitcher for most of the season, so I think he got tired in the last inning, which started with a leadoff walk. He was able to throw his off-speed pitches for strikes. He needs better command with this fastball, which topped out at 93.

If Tillman ever makes it back to the Bigs for any length of time,he better have something other than his straight as an arrow 88mph semi-fastball.
At the rate he gives up home runs, he'll end up beating Jaime Moyer's record by about 24 years.

well, it took an era north of 8 for him to finally succumb to the org pleas to get another pitch. It's either an out pitch or a pitch with a different look that makes your other stuff look better. The kid has a good curve, a decent change, and not letting the 4 seamer fly flattened that thing right out. I'd like to know how griffin lets the guy get up here. I mean, shouldn't the Os be teaching certain pitches as a rule in developing these guys?
But hey, it took Hughes a demotion and a year in the bullpen to figure out he needed another pitch.
I don't care if that kid spends the next 2 months in AAA getting that stuff figured out. There's no shame being down there if you come back different and effective.

I think this is a positive article/development. Instead of condemning Tillman or the coaching staff, I think we should be happy that they're trying to fix the problem to an otherwise potentially great starter. His lack of movement on the 4seam is why he's back in the minors. If he takes this year to figure out a 2seam, cutter or both, then I think the next time he comes up, he won't go back. Sounds like a perfect solution to me..

I'm with Jeff - no kid throws a true 2-seam fastball. It's too hard to control, anyway.

Jeff, Jake,

I went to a high school in Anne Arundel County with a fairly well know baseball coach that had a lot of success in the 80's and mid 90's. When I was pitching at the JV level we were all taught 2 seam, 4 seam, curve and sliders. However, it was expected that to make the team as a Freshman you'd better already been throwing them. So I'm guessing most 12-14 year olds should already be throwing a 2 seam. Thats not to say a 14 year old has perfected the 2 seam at this age, however, it is beyond me that Tillman, 22 and in professional baseball, is just now learning a 2-seam, truly the most basic pitch in a pitchers repertoire.

Mike and Jeff:

Thanks for your thoughful comments. My questions were intended to be rhetorical since there are, to my knowledge, only two correct ways to throw a fastball: two-seamer and four seamer.

Mike, like you, I was throwing a two-seamer at an early age (about 10 years old). In fact, my coach taught me a circle change-up when I was 11 years old (although I could not throw it effectively because my hand was too small). Nevertheless, I had at least experimented with the change-up at any early age.

I had assumed that these basic pitches (two-seamer, four seamer, and change-up) were taught early in order to steer players away from throwing curve balls (and thus developing sore arms).

In any event, I hope Tillman developes a two-seamer and further refines a change-up (one the most devastating pitches if thrown properly).

Where are the O's at on signing the Draft picks? any news?

Jeff Z's reply: Nope, I've written all the guys that they've agreed to terms with to this point. With UCLA's College World Series run over, that should allow the Orioles to reach deals with the three Bruins that they drafted. And last time I checked, they were close to finalizing deals with a couple of the high school ptichers they drafted, but that's prett ymuch it.

the broadneck area was fortunate to have a couple of excellent coaches-lou lamedica-being one, two seamers and change-ups were a little league staple.
so how a big leaguer has to learn one is beyond me.
forks,, sinkers, curves, sliders, slips and
spitters were ususally taught later to save wear on elbows. i've often wondered why the o's have so many sore arms

Let's sign some of these little leaguers! I was a catcher in Little League... and Pony League. In LL, half the pitchers could barely get their whole hands around the ball... Besides, a hard-throwing pitcher scares the crap out of little leaguers without needing a second pitch. I somehow suspect Tillman's work on the two-seamer is a bit different but it shows why you can't entirely judge minor league performance based solely on stats, or a team's performance on won-lost record.
There's more going on than meets the eye. That said, Bell has been hitting over .300 this past month... Ironic that the best performing minor league position player plays a position that is being reasonably handled, right now, in the majors... Not great, but reasonably...

This makes me question the Os player development (once again). Why is the need for a two-seamer being recognized only now? Tillman's fastball was just as straight last year.

I think guys drafted as talented as Tillman tend to be able to advance on just 2 or 3 pitches but maybe this will make the difference between his being just a good pitcher and a dominate one.. Zach Britton is working hard on a changeup even to using it in game situations to get his confidence built up asap even if it cost him some extra runs early on in this year.. This is why I prefer Andy to stick with the plan and not bringing a guy up until his numbers force the team to consider him.. I know Machado will be take a lot of time and Klein was pitching in the CWS but I am concerned with the slowness of most of our top 15 picks so far..

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

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