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December 28, 2010

Hobgood's 2011 season will be delayed by bad shoulder

Matt Hobgood’s professional career hasn’t gotten off to a good start since the Orioles made the California high school pitcher the fifth overall selection in the 2009 draft. He’s struggled to find consistency on the mound and his conditioning has been an issue.

Now, the 20-year-old is dealing with a right shoulder injury that will likely delay his start to the 2011 season. Hobgood started feeling some discomfort in his shoulder about two weeks ago while he was playing catch and the discomfort was significant enough for the pitcher to make pre-Christmas visits to both Orioles team orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens and renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala.

He was diagnosed with a rotator cuff strain. He’ll begin a therapy and rehabilitation program after the New Year, and then be re-evaluated in mid to late February.

“We’ll take the four to six weeks and then look at it,” said Orioles director of player development John Stockstill. “It might be a minor setback, it might be more than that. We’re not going to know until he goes through this.”

Stockstill said that the two doctors don’t think surgery is necessary at this point. Hobgood would have begun the 2011 season at either Low-A Delmarva or High-A Frederick, but the shoulder issues almost certainly mean that he’ll remain at extended spring training when the minor league seasons start.

Hobgood’s selection in 2009 was highly questioned by Oriole fans as the prep pitcher was considered a middle-to-late first-round pick by draft pundits. That – coupled by his slightly below-slot $2.42 million signing – fueled questions that the Orioles took him fifth overall because they felt that they could sign him quickly and relatively cheaply compared to other possible picks.

Hobgood went 1-2 with a 4.73 ERA in eight starts for Rookie-level Bluefield in 2009 and then followed that up by going 3-7 with a 4.40 ERA in 21 starts for Single-A Delmarva this past season. He started the season ranked as the Orioles’ fifth-best prospect by Baseball America, but he was not included among the organization’s top-10 prospects in rankings released recently by the publication.

A bigger concern beyond his numbers was that Hobgood’s velocity was down significantly, which team officials felt was a result of the prospect not being in good enough shape.

Several team officials spoke to Hobgood about getting into better shape and he appeared to be taking the message seriously. Hobgood has been working out at Athletes’ Performance in California in a group that includes Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman.

Tillman was highly complimentary of the pitcher’s work ethic, saying that Hobgood was doing conditioning work both before and after the regular workouts.

However, the latest news is certainly a blow to Hobgood, and the Orioles, who were hoping that their top draft pick would make some significant strides this year. He still may, but he’s going to have to get healthy first.

In other minor league news, the Orioles won’t announce their full affiliate coaching staffs until manager Buck Showalter determines who will be the final coach to round out his big league staff. However, the managers for the top affiliates are set. They are Gary Allenson (Triple-A Norfolk), Gary Kendall (Double-A Bowie), Orlando Gomez (Single-A Frederick) and Ryan Minor (Single-A Delmarva).

Allenson’s staff will include hitting coach Brad Komminsk and pitching coach Mike Griffin.

Go to to get news on your mobile device. Text BASEBALL to 70701 for Orioles text alerts.

Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 4:24 PM | | Comments (45)


At the time of the draft, I felt it was premature to grumble about the pick.

Now I just think that Tyler Matzek would look really good in the O's minor league system.

This is statistically consistent. That's why the A's, under the "Moneyball" management, never take a high school kid. Something like 60% end up injured. At least they got him signed. Right?

Is there any possibility he will be given a chance as a position player? As I recall, he had a big power bat in HS.

Jeff Z's reply: Too early for that. If he rehabs for 6 weeks and then is ready to pitch by mid-May, it could turn out to be no big deal. The kid is 20 years old. It's not like he was going to be in the majors this year or even next. The O's have no plans of rushing him.

In fact, didn't he play 1st base for awhile before becoming a pitcher? I'm just sayin'.

I thought I heard somewhere that the O's were in the top 5 of signing bonuses in the last few drafts? I don't know if they thought Hobgood was cheaper to sign or if someone thought he could be very good, but the sad thing is that the O's need HR's in the draft! I know the draft is nuts in terms of predicting who will do what, but when you are trying to rebuild your franchise from the ground up, you have little wiggle room. I am not saying Matt is a bust because that would be dumb thing to say about a 20 year old kid.

The O's need more of an international presence as well. If they want to find hidden gems, get more scouts! They don't want to overpay for FA's and the great FA's have no interest coming here so they need to invest heavily into scouting.

If Hobgood wasn't picked just to save money, then whoever is in charge of the draft should be fired. This did not make sense at the time and his career is playing out as the critics expected.

All pitchers in the draft are a crapshoot, but high schoolers?

A foolish waste of money.

What's more, how can an underachieving organization like the Orioles throw good money away on a 17 - 18 year old pitcher and then hold back on paying the right value dollar for proven major league players?

Thus, the loss in velocity I would think. I hope the rest does it. I always assume a shoulder injury is a labrum injury, but maybe that's wrong. This could explain his somewhat slow development. Better fix it now while he's young.

Jeff Z's reply: Could be rotator cuff, too.

Note to David, I seem to recall those guys resonsible for Hopgood were let go last year. Perhaps the blog owner can confirm that

Jeff Z's reply: No, Joe Jordan, who selected Hobgood, is still the Orioles scouting director.

I had my reservations about the O's drafting a high schooler. It seems weird to draft kids that will take longer to contribute to the club. Seems like a better option to draft people ready to contribute sooner rather than later in my opinion.

Jeff, who has Hobgood been training with in CA again?

Jeff Z's reply: Matusz, Tillman, Chase Utley, Milton Bradley among others.


There's nothing wrong with drafting high school pitchers.

CC Sabathia, Roy Halladay, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Clayton Kershaw... all these guys were drafted as high school pitchers. Texas drafted Matt Purke at #15 two years ago, didn't sign him and now he's projected to go in the first 3 of next year's draft.

The ceilings on high school pitchers are often higher than those of college pitchers. That's why most of the top arms never get to college. Every year is gonna be different, but as far as 2009, if you offered me the chance to take Mike Leake or Tyler Matzek right now, I'd still take Matzek.

Dennis, you have asked a rhetorical question. One needs look no further than the President of Baseball Operations, Andy B. Macphail who has been dithering and equivocating the last four offseasons, for your answer.

Macphail was not hired by Peter Angelos in order for the Orioles make progress in the standings. He was hired to keep the payroll down while looking busy and relying on the family name to convince the fans that he was making a serious attempt to improve the organization. Meanwhile, Angelos happily crams 65 million a year in the bank from MASN. It was a marriage made in heaven...An over the hill and overrrated baseball executive to take the heat off a disconnected and disinterested owner.

The whole Macphail tenure has been a joke played on long suffering Oriole fans. The Orioles are no closer to being competitive in the Division than they were when Macphail got here. Next year's roster has more questions than meet the press.

Hobgood was an awful and head scratching pick for the Orioles by most expert acccounts. It is painfully obvious that money was the issue. And that is pitiful considering the disgusting performance of the team over the last 13 years.

Beeb has taken the words out of my mouth. It is apparent that the O's brain trust has experienced a huge brain cramp. Those who have studied the game from a statistical perspective have learned that taking a high school pitcher early in the draft makes no sense. There are just too many pitchers who don't even make it through college. A pitcher with an outstanding curve ball in high school is probably not going to make it too far since he has undoubtedly developed a pitch too young in life and therefore is apt to wind up on some surgeon's operating table. If the smart general managers don't select high school pitchers what kind do we have? Additionally, it is always smarter to draft young hitters with high batting averages as opposed to lots of home runs and a lower batting average. Most young ballplayers will gain the strength naturally (without steroids) as they mature and get stronger, but it's much more difficult to develop a good batting eye and a quicker swing. Guess what kind of hitters our brain-trust prefers? What was the third baseman we just signed? Two hundred strikeouts and what was his batting average? Bottom line, I'd rather have a great on base percentage and less strikeouts. I'd rather have Pete Rose than Russell Branyan. Guess what we get? It's sickening to see the O's brain trust repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

To those who point to the few high school pitchers that make it, I think that statistics will prove to you that college pitchers last longer and out perform high school pitchers drafted.

What surprised me most about the pick, and still does, was how many prospect experts gave the Orioles a pass for it, even though most had Hobgood rated as a low first-round pick. They all seemed convinced the Orioles did genuinely get the player they wanted.

FYI, Tyler Matszek walked 62 batters in 89 minor league innings this year. Zach Wheeler, picked immediately after Hobgood, had a 3.99 ERA in A ball.

Hobgood was a reach of a pick and may be a failure. But it's not currently clear that there was somebody obviously better available. So I guess I'm still willing to give Jordan a pass on this one.

Is it time to clear out the scouting corps? They really stink. Can Showalter get involved in that too.? One reason why the O's stink so bad and the farm stinks too is the scouting system. Time to get in a firing mode? These guys smell. Rowell over Linsecum?

c'mon folks, it's kinda early to give up on a kid still wearing braces...

on a side note, i swear that i just typed two of wayne's made-up words into the anti=spam filter. he must be on to something, or using it as a vocabulary builder.

Lunatic it is clear that you're anything but. The single biggest cause for the Orioles demise has not been bad trades or bad lack but just plain bad drafting. Secondly, Peter the terrible decided it was unwise to discover talent in South America while every other team was doing just that. Third, while Peter is making money in a stadium the city of Baltimore built for him, he is one of the cheapest in paying for real talent and instead buys on the cheap and winds up throwing that away anyway. McFail is the least of the problems.

I continue to believe high school draft picks in the first round are fool's gold. I think drafting a college senior reduces first round draft risk significantly.

I have to agree with those who fault our scouts. Over the past decade, the O's have had consistently high drafts. At the same time, the Yankees and Red Sox have had low picks. Yet, those teams seem to be able to draft and develop young players . I think the major problem with the O's organization has been the inability to acccurately assess talent and develop young players.

picks like him and billy rowell are the reason thst this team is in the shape it's been in the last 13 years. Things will be different now with buck.Thye had to be th worst 2 picks in a very long time.

I saw Hobgood when Delmarva was in
Asheville. Only took one look for me to
wonder, what were the O's thinking. He
makes David Wells look like a midget.
A wasted #1 pick. Should have got a
college pitcher.

FIRE McFail...........

At least he came forward to work with professionals when he discovered the problem. A lot of players hide an injury like this and try to play through making it worse or inducing a different injury compensating for the original. This seems to show some degree of maturity for a young guy. I'm pulling for him. He has talent. Give him some time to develop. Growing boy. Most picks are a gamble, even in the top 5.

Let's be balanced here. Weiters, Matusz and Machado are just 3 recent examples of the Os spending money on draft picks that were highly regarded and also scared some teams off because of expected difficulty in signing them. So, it's simply not true that the Os will not spend money to sign the best draft choices.

What is disturbing is the team's relative inactivity in scouting Latino players. Didn't I read they have REDUCED their presence in the Dominican Republic?

While I too am frustrated by AMs lack of aggressiveness in signing his targets, everything that's been done since Showalter was hired has improved this team over where it was entering last year.

@ Gil

Yeah, you are totally right. Signing guys like Machado and Matusz are clearly nothing more than a smokescreen to throw off Oriole fans into thinking that they care about winning. The Orioles even went so far as to sign a blue chipper from the Dominican named Hector Veloz. On the major league level they took on salary dumps like Millwood, Hardy and Reynolds, but it's clear that all of these transactions are simply illusions to keep gullible Oriole fans from thinking that they are doing something. We all know it shouldn't take more than an off-season or two to turn around a decade of losing!

I wondered at the time of the signing why they didn't consider him for a position player with the batting stat he had. Can he hit professional pitching or not?

Maybe trade him to an N.L. team and find out if he's another Ankiel.

After switching my primary loyalty to the Phillies five years ago, I must admit that although I still despise watching most pitchers flail away at the plate, I do enjoy seeing the rare few that can handle a bat. Oh, for the good old days of Earl Wilson & co.

Good teams that have depth at the ML level and at AAA level are the only teams that should ever draft a HS student who will need 5-7 years of minor league experience to determine if he'll ever pitch at the ML level; and even then, that player should not come out of the 1st round. This team needs pitchers now!, not down the road!!!

I was angry about this pick when it happened and I'm still angry about it. How does a team, so desperate for pitching, and refuses to pay Free Agent pitchers, draft a player who is with certainty at least 5 years away from even the possibility of pitching in the Majors? TELL ME HOW ???

Sounds like Sidney Ponson without occasional great stuff. Cut him loose!

I defended the Hobgood pick when it happened, trusting Joe Jordan and his staff, but in hindsight and in the context of Wieters, Matusz and Machado surrounding Hobgood, it just doesn't make sense.

Jeff: Do you have any insight on why the team opted for a "signable" high school pitcher when that pick was sandwiched by the biggest bonus in Orioles history, a major league contract for a college pitcher and another $5MM+ bonus for a high school hitter?

I just don't get it...

Jeff Z's reply: All I know is the Orioles were adamant that they didn't pick Hobgood for signability reasons. They also maintained that a team right behind them were set to take him if they hadn't. My question is why is a kid that they clocked in the mid 90s in high school throwing consistently in the mid 80s.

the orioles' demise was an inside job! you macphail/angelos conspiracy theorists never cease to amaze me.

it's entirely revisionist history to say that "experts" questioned this pick. Hobgood was far and away the best high school arm in the draft and would have been a first-rounder as a position player as well. he was the gatorade national player of the year. he had two plus plus pitches (fastball and curve) coming out of high school. they knew conditioning would be an issue, but that's something that all kids deal with at that age.

it's way too early to give up on this kid. most of you will be right back on the bandwagon whenever this ship gets turned around, but until i run into you at some bar pretending you've been a fan all along, beat it.

"Posted by: Chris in Hawaii | December 28, 2010 4:35 PM

This is statistically consistent. That's why the A's, under the "Moneyball" management, never take a high school kid. Something like 60% end up injured. At least they got him signed. Right?"

The book did say that, but Billy Bean has said since then that he has revisited high school prospects as valuable players that must be considered.


Under the Macphail rebuilding program it was never really about 2007, 2008, 2009, or 2010. It's looking more and more like it wasn't about 2011 either. That's why Andy never signed any big name free agents. He always said he would spend the money on them "when the time was right." After all, we don't want to block the kids, and the marquee free agents won't come here anyhow. Besides, they really aren't worth the money anyway, and we can't spend with the Yankees and Red Sox. It's just not fair. Did I miss any of the warehouse employee talking points?

Since Andy's time here is almost up, I guess he'll never get to spend it... and I think that was "The Plan" after all. Don't you?

{Check Major League payroll statistics for reference}

the orioles' demise was an inside job! you macphail/angelos conspiracy theorists never cease to amaze me.

it's entirely revisionist history to say that "experts" questioned this pick. Hobgood was far and away the best high school arm in the draft and would have been a first-rounder as a position player as well. he was the gatorade national player of the year. he had two plus plus pitches (fastball and curve) coming out of high school. they knew conditioning would be an issue, but that's something that all kids deal with at that age.

it's way too early to give up on this kid. most of you will be right back on the bandwagon whenever this ship gets turned around, but until i run into you at some bar pretending you've been a fan all along, beat it.

So they made a bad pick, or a premature one. Matusz was a solid pick, so was Machado. Hobgood was questionable - so Joe Jordan or some other scout was way off or overly optimistic. It happens.

I still would like to see an in-depth report by The Sun (or another source of media) detailing our scouting department and minor league player development system, and compare them to other organizations. I understand why the O's don't buy free agents. PA will not spend to try to turn around this club - he'll wait for prospects and cheap FA options, and hsi new manager to fix things.

But why haven't our prospects turned out better? 2007 looks like our best draft in a while. I'm less concerned with Hobgood, and more concerned with previous drafts.

2004-2006 draft picks who have made it to the majors:


6 players in 3 draft years from 4-6 years ago, and none of them have really made a significant impact yet. Can't blame AM for these years, so were they bad picks by poor scouts, or is it our minor leagues? I tend to think our player development is weak, especially when other teams like the Rays are consistently bringing up solid talent.

shf9 -

It's entirely revisionist history to say the "experts" didn't question the Hobgood pick.

And what's this about Hobgood being "far and away the best high school arm in the draft"? Zach Wheeler, Tyler Matzek, Shelby Miller, Jacob Tuner. All of those guys were projected to go higher than Hobgood. And guess what? None of those guys have had conditioning issues and they've all been better than Hobgood.


Moving on, Hobgood was originally thought of as a supplemental round pick. Sure, he moved up a bit on draft day, but NO ONE was expecting a Hobgood pick within the top 10, let alone the top five.

- Here's Jonathan Mayo's draft order from the day before the draft. Mayo's got Hobgood at #22.:

- A quote from says, "Hobgood was widely considered an overdraft by most analysts, including myself, though it was part of a wider strategy to spread money throughout the Orioles’ draft. Hobgood featured a mature body, with less projection than most elite prep arms, but he’s considered safer than other arms."

- After the draft, Marc Hulet of Fangraphs said, "The Baltimore Orioles then followed up with the fifth pick by taking California prep right-hander Matt Hobgood, leaving the likes of Zack Wheeler, Jacob Turner, Tyler Matzek, and Shelby Miller on the table. All four prep pitchers were considered to be more talented."

- In September of 2008, Keith Law didn't even have Hobgood in his top 60:

- After the draft, Law said in an ESPN chat that he "liked Wheeler more, and I would have taken him, but Hobgood is in the discussion."

Revisionist history? Perhaps you should take another look, my friend.


That was "beeb" that said that, not me. Personally, I think you just take the best player available, regardless of whether the player is coming from high school or college.

When it comes to the draft, I say statistics schmatistics. Not only do a great number of high school pitchers fail, the majority of players fail regardless of whether they come from HS or college. You can't afford to shut yourself off from any possible pick based on a bias towards one thing or the other.

Moneyball was 8 years ago. You can't hold on to a theory from that long ago in the majors. Other teams adapt to what you're doing and you are no longer in front of the field. You have to be constantly evolving.

By the way, how many of Beane's 1st round picks have panned out post-2002?

I'll give you the list:

2003 - Brad Sullivan, Brian Snyder (both college guys... Chad Billingsly drafted out of HS right before them)
2004 - Landon Powell, Richard Robnett (both college guys... Phil Hughes drafted out of HS right before these guys)
2005 - Cliff Pennington (college guy... post Pennington draftees include Jacoby Ellsbury, Matt Garza and high school outfielder Colby Rasmus)
2006 - no 1st round picks
2007 - James Simmons (college guy... Rick Porcello was drafted out of HS right after him)
2008 - Jemile Weeks (college guy... too early to tell, but injury problems... yes, even college players wash out due to injury)
2009 - Grant Green (college guy... too early, but had a solid year last year in high A)
2010 - Michael Choice (college guy... good power numbers in limited time at low A... if you don't mind a 42% SO rate)

So, should Billy Beane be the end-all-be-all when it comes to draft theory?

Not hardly.

Moneyball was a great read and Beane certainly was a leader as far as implementing statistics in managing a baseball roster. But his theories regarding the draft when it comes to 1st round picks have not really paid off.

not brooks,

any monkey can punch matt hobgood into google and come up with somebody praising or deriding any of the picks. mock drafts are irrelevant to the argument, because mock drafts aren't rankings (and frankly, nobody had any idea where hobgood was going. he was all over the mock drafts. "Colorado is supposed to really, really like Hobgood, and they may be so worried he won’t make it to the end of the round that they pick him near the top." - a blogger could have immaculate credentials or none at all.

just by googling, i came up with the following in the 90 seconds it took me to get bored with this exercise:

"If [Hobgood] can add a changeup to go along with his other offerings and his tremendous mound presence, he has the chance to be a front-of-the-rotation starter in the future." -

"Hobgood should be a rotation mainstay down the road. He has a workhorse mentality and physique." - Sporting News

it's easy to dismiss the kid as a bust, but he's 20 years old, by all accounts has a tremendous work ethic and plays for our organization. let this one play out before playing along with the rest of these retards.

and Keith Law had Mike Leake at #60. as you said...


the Os need to fire there whole scouting staff and start over. There are alot of teams bringing up young talent. Whenever someone gets hurt on are team we bring up some old guy that cant be a full time mlb player. look at some of the picks Billy Rowell, Brandon Snyder, Adam Lowen. Are farm systems are so bare. How do the Yankees and Red sox have better farm systems then us and we always draft way ahead of them and they are trading minor leagures away for more mlb talent?Something has to give!

Here's the skinny on our farm system. We used to be the envy of baseball. Now we are at the bottom. After thirteen losing seasons with top draft pucks we are at the bottom. Terrible scouts and lousy farm system. Player development is poor. What else is there to say. Oh, get rid of Peter the bad and maybe this franchise can turn it around in another 5 or 6 years. How about Cal buying the team from dead head Peter. It is a shame what he has done to a once proud franchise.

Did I miss any of the warehouse employee talking points?

Posted by: Gil | December 29, 2010 1:39 PM

I'd sure hope not, considering that you've been polishing up that same post for at least a year now. You should have it perfected at this point since you've posted variants of the same ol' post a good 100 times.

How many times can you repeat yourself?

We all get it. PAAM and the entire organization are traitors to the city, the play is pathetic, there's no help coming from the disgraceful minor league system, PAAM won't pony up for free agents and on and on....
did I miss any conspiracy theorist/disgruntled fan talking points?

Dead Horse,

Touchy, aren't we? Actually I posted a truncated version of my top ten excuses why the Orioles won't try to put a competitive product on the field. I'll start posting the full version after the first of the year again. I did take a four month hiatus from posting at all to give Andy Macphail the benefit of the doubt in the offseason. But he has been true to his thrifty form so far. Or should I say he is as cheap as ever when it comes to trying to upgrade the product on the field by acquiring marquee talent. And yes, I have no doubt that Peter Angelos is pulling the strings on the budget.

The fact is that the Orioles are the laughing stock of Major League Baseball and the fodder of late night TV show monologues. The situation has gotten so pathetic for Oriole fans that all we can do is engage in the healing power of laughter.

Jeff asked......

"..... why is a kid that they clocked in the mid 90s in high school throwing consistently in the mid 80s.?"

Well, lets examine the facts.
1)For a short duration during the last few games of his high school career, a young pitcher increases the speed of his fastball.
2)After signing with his new club he starts his career thowing with less velocity and has increased weight.

With the availability of steroids for anyone, you sure hope the O's didn't get duped thinking a player was something he was not.

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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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