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