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November 10, 2008

O's fans: Matusz and Tillman love in Baseball America

Dan Connolly here. I decided to jump in and be a Schmuck today while Pete is doing his best to destroy renewed hope in international relations.

I’ll take Ugly American for $100, Alex

Anyway, you all can catch me at Connolly’s Bar on Tuesday. We’ll be open again, and the septic system is cleared, I’ve been told.

I just received my Baseball America’s annual American League East prospects issue, which will be on sale through Nov. 30. In it, editor Jim Callis ranks his Top 10 lefty/righty pitching duos throughout the majors, and get excited O’s fans.

Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman are fourth, behind David Price and Wade Davis of Tampa Bay, Derek Holland and Neftali Feliz of the Texas Rangers and Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill of Oakland. Callis picked the Washington Nationals’ Ross Detwiler and Jordan Zimmerman seventh.

If you haven’t seen BA’s Top 10 Orioles prospects for 2009, here they are in order: C Matt Wieters, RHP Chris Tillman, LHP Brian Matusz, RHP Jake Arrieta, OF Nolan Reimold, RHP Brandon Erbe, 3B Billy Rowell, LHP Troy Patton, 1B Brandon Snyder and RHP Kam Mickolio.

Some quick thoughts about that group:

1. No internationally signed players. In contrast the Boston Red Sox have three in their Top 10 and the New York Yankees have two. The Rays and Blue Jays also have none.

2. Six of the Orioles’ 10 weren’t in their farm system 18 months ago.

3. Eight of the 10 are 6-foot-4 or taller. Joe Jordan has always said he likes his players big, and apparently Andy MacPhail is on board with that.

4. Does Rowell, who batted .248 with just seven homers and 104 strikeouts in 375 at-bats at Frederick, still belong on the list? The club’s No. 1 pick in 2006 is only 20, but he has struggled as a pro. Is it true there are only six better prospects in the Orioles’ organization? Do you think his inclusion is more about his upside or the Orioles’ farm system in general?

-- Dan Connolly

Posted by Tim Wheatley at 2:57 PM | | Comments (18)


Billy rowell will never see the major leagues. I know he is only 20 and last year i heard he was only 19 and next year i will hear he is only 21.That was a bust out pick when they could have taken a much better player in that spot. Yea and at 6 foot 4 they should start there own basketball team because in all likelihood that bunch might be a tad better then what the terps put on the floor this year.

It's about Billy Rowell's upside. The taters he hit at Bishop Eustace in Pennsauken, NJ are legend. Do not give up on young Billy.

Baseball America is only good for lining birdcages and making paper hats. Of course, first, you have to remove the staples. BA's prospect analysis is, unfortunately, based on shameless, brainless hype and not facts. Names like Luis Mercedes & Rocky Coppinger have haunted the Orioles' top ten prospects list in the past. The current batch of Orioles hopefuls first have to prove that they can make the parent club, stay there and excel. The best of luck to all of them.

Mickolio and Patton don't belong. #10-20 according to O's Hangout is the best we've had in a while. It includes Hernandez,Patton,Spoone,Hoes,Avery,Montanez,Henson,Bergeson and Miclat.

I'd say within one year Rowell no longer appears on such a list. That's because he's shown he has little upside thus far (the bottom line is he hasn't DEVELOPED significantly), and because our organization will be that much deeper with talent. Until I see something markedly different from Rowell, I'm henceforward going to write him off as a bust.

Rowell is on there just because of his draft status. That said I think it is based more on his upside- again he is only 20 and has 2 years of professional baseball in him. I say wait until he is 23. If he is still lurking around .250 at AA with 12 homers then it might be time to question his abilities.

Snyder took a little while to develop at A- so things are totally shot.

Rowell also tallied 16 HRs over two seasons in (if I count correctly) 202 games. That's also not impressive for a guy slated for 3rd or 1st. We're reduced to hoping Rowell wasn't a wasted pick. His inclusion this high in an O's prospect list is indicative of what we already know. The farm system is building talent, but it's still pretty shallow.

The young pitching still has to do it in the big leagues. The positive is that national writers are taking notice instead of the fans being subjected to Orioles PR as with the last bill of goods they sold us (Loewen, Penn, Cabrera, etc.). Hopefully the O's minor league development doesn't screw these guys up.

You guys need to give Billy Rowell a shot. He's been in the minors 2 years and in 2.5 more years, he'll still be younger than Matt Wieters when Wieters started his career. This kid has loads of talent. Just like any 20 year old(he was 19 for most of this season) he may or may not make it but give him time to develop. And don't be so damn negative.

Rowell should have been sent to the Hawaiian Winter League, like Snyder was last year.

Rowell has 922 Professional at-bats… the goal should have been 150 at-bats this Winter, 250 at-bats at Frederick through June 2009, 200 at-bats at Bowie through August 2009, 150 at-bats next Winter in the Dominican… 250 at-bats at Bowie through June 2010…

Major League Debut July 2010, a few months before his 22nd bday.

By my plan, Rowell would receive another 1000 Minor League / Professional at-bats before his Major League call-up… which would be double his current level of professional experience… at-bats during this Winter, and next Winter are important parts of his development…

I would like to see the O's organization fully make-up with Brooks… having Brooks spend sometime working with Rowell on his foot-work during ST, and several times during the year.

He hasn't been as heralded as Matusz or Tillman or Patton, but i am genuinely excited about Jake Arrieta.

Rowell was listed way too high. Brandon Snyder was also a #1 pick who actually played well last season. How did they justify Rowell being better? I know's still younger but did you read how they wrote about him? Its like they agree that Rowell hasn't done essentially anything to deserve his position in this ranking. I was a little surprised to see Reimold as high as he was but I guess i should be optimistic about that one instead of complaining

Jerry, you are right on the nose with having Brooks taking all of the baby bird 3rd sackers under his wing. I realize Brooks isn't looking for a fulltime job, but, just think what a boost it would be for a minor league hot corner man to have Brooks "in your corner". Imagine the info he could lay on these guys. Orioles, use your brains!!! Build a statue, give him a skybox, rename the city, do what you have to do. We may be wasting the most valuable resource we have.

I too am excited about Arrietta and especially David Hernandez. I agree with the assessment that Rowell has been less than what he was expected to be so far, but consider that Wieters has been dominant at every level of his career probably back to junior varsity. Some good players just aren't the best at every level.
I see Rowell finding a 3-5 year zone where he whacks the ball among the best in the biz, it's just a matter of time and timing. Plus there needs to be some proof that he has another baseball skill at any position, I don't know too many in the organization that are fully confident of that.
He's similar to alot of high picks, especially in the Orioles organization that are upside guys as soon as they hit the pros and that's what you get when you pick a kid that high right out of high school.
I have faith that Rowell will mature as a young man and grow into his natural skills and size to be an average big leaguer at the very best.
The offseason after this upcoming season will be when to invest in several contracts as the youth in AA will be able to mesh with proven talent to form a long term nucleus. I just hope Nick Markakis signs soon enough to show me he'll be in that group

A bigger issue for me than the Rowell debate is the lack of international talent in the O's minor league system. Looking at the 2008 hits leaders in the majors, 6 of the top 10 were born outside the United States. Hard to compete when the Yankees are filling in the draft misses with guys like Alfredo Aceves and Jesus Montero (18-year-old Montero hit 18 HR in the Sally Leauge this year, Rowell fans).

Lets see how Matusz performs at Bowie this year. His performance with the AFL hasn't been all peaches and cream. Getting his feet wet against the AFL elite will/should prove invaluable.

Hey - don't forget that the (W)O's, in all their genius, took Billy Rowell instead of Tim Lincecum -- who won the Cy Young today.

And the Orioles wonder why no one goes to Camden Yards but Red Sox and Yankee fans...

Despite what is said about Rowell, his inclusion on our top prospect list is due in part to his ceiling, as he was drafted first round, but also due in part to his age and league he was playing in. At Frederick he was one of the youngest players in the league and did okay.

One of the reasons that despite monstrous seasons they were not included on the list, Lou Montanez and Brad Bergesen are just slightly too old pitching to younger talent.

This is why Rowell is still high on people's lists.

For those of you giving up on Billy Rowell look at Brandon SNyder i'm sure you gave up on him to a year ago and now hes tearing up the Arizona fall league and looks like he'll be in the bigs in a year or two. LEt the kids develop sometimes it just takes one little thing and it all clicks and suddenly billy will be hitting 25-30 HRs and you will all be singing his praises.

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About Peter Schmuck
Peter Schmuck wants you to know that, contrary to popular belief, he is more than just a bon vivant, raconteur and collector of blousy flowered shirts. He is a semi-respected journalist who has covered virtually every sport -- except luge, of course – and tackled issues that transcend the mere games people play. If that isn’t enough to qualify him to provide witty, wide-ranging commentary on the sports world ... and the rest of the world, for that matter ... he is an avid reader of history, biography and the classics, as well as a charming blowhard who pops off on both sports and politics on WBAL Radio. That means you can expect a little of everything in The Schmuck Stops Here, but the major focus will be keeping you up to the minute on Baltimore’s major sports teams and themes, whether it’s throwing up the Orioles lineup the minute it’s announced or updating you on the latest sprained ankle in Owings Mills. Oh, and by the way, that’s Mr. Schmuck to you.

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