The Graduate: Garrett Olson | Born: October 1983 | Left-Handed Pitcher
Garrett Olson had a nice start to his 2008 Major League season and maintained a respectable ERA through the month of June. After that, though, the southpaw posted an ERA over 8.00 in his final 14 starts and allowed 98 hits in in 68.1 innings. Overall, he allowed rates of 4.21 BB/9 and 5.63 K/9. Bill James’ projection for 2009 sees Olson returning to form as a No. 4 or 5 starter in the Baltimore rotation. He’ll need to fool batters a little more in 2009 to achieve that projection, as hitters made contact more than 90 percent of the time when they swung at pitches in the strike zone against Olson in 2008.
The Riser: Jake Arrieta | Born: March 1986 | Right-Handed Pitcher
Jake Arrieta took a little bit of a tumble in the 2007 draft due to signability concerns and signed late – so he did not put on a pro uniform until last year’s Arizona Fall League. He more than held his own there and carried that success on over into 2008. Arrieta allowed just 80 hits in 113 High-A ball innings. He posted rates of 4.06 BB/9 and 9.56 K/9. He features a low-90s fastball that touches the mid-90s, a slider and a change-up. Despite his lack of pro experience, Arrieta could be pitching in Baltimore by the end of the 2009 season.
The Tumbler: Billy Rowell | Born: September 1988 | Third Baseman
Billy Rowell, the Orioles first-round pick in 2006, is only 20 years old and has plenty of time to right the ship but Baltimore is no doubt disappointed with his development to this point. The first high school player selected in the draft, Rowell has already been surpassed development-wise by Toronto’s Travis Snider, who was selected shortly after him but has already made his Major League debut. In 2008 at High-A ball, Rowell hit .248/.314/.368 with seven home runs and an ISO of .120 in 375 at-bats. He walked 8.8 percent of the time, while striking out at a rate of 27.7 percent.
The ’08 Draft Pick: L.J. Hoes | Born: March 1990 | Second Baseman
A Washington D.C. native, L.J. Hoes was selected in the third round of the 2008 draft out of high school and thrived in Rookie ball. He hit .308/.418/.390 with an ISO of .082 and 10 stolen bases in 159 at-bats. He posted rates of 15.9 BB% and 13.8 K%. Defensively, he may move to center field down the line.
The ’09 Sleeper: Brandon Erbe | Born: December 1987 | Right-Handed Pitcher
It’s understandable that some Baltimore fans are getting frustrated with Brandon Erbe’s apparent lack of development, but the right-hander will be pitching at Double-A in 2009 – his fifth season in pro ball – at the age of just 21. Erbe pitched at High-A ball in 2008, for the second straight season, and had a solid year by allowing 120 hits in 150.2 innings of work. He posted rates of 2.99 BB/9 and 9.02 K/9. His control was much improved this past season as he shaved off almost two walks per nine innings. Erbe’s biggest nemesis is consistency, followed by a penchant for allowing home runs (21 in 2008, at a rate of 1.25 HR/9). I am going on record by stating, if healthy, Erbe will be one of the biggest breakout pitchers of 2009.
Up Next: The Los Angeles Dodgers
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