Nolan Reimold and Jeff Fiorentino are the two outfielders most mentioned when people talk about the Orioles farm system. Fiorentino is best known to casual fans for his premature call=up in 2005. Since then, he has returned to Frederick to finish the 2005 season, spent a full year at AA Bowie and had another cup of coffee in the majors at the end of the 2006 campaign. Reimold has moved steadily through the Orioles' system at a more conventional pace. He finished the 2005 season as a late year reinforcement for Frederick's pennant push after his professional debut in the New York-Penn League. His entire 2006 campaign was spent at Frederick.
Attributes:Jeff Fiorentino was drafted out of Florida Atlantic University in the 3rd round of the 2004 draft. He stands 6'1'', weighs a slender 180 lbs., and bats and throws left-handed. Nolan Reimold was also drafted out of college; Bowling Green State University. Although, he was drafted in the second round and was generally a more successful college player after leading NCAA Division I in slugging percentage his junior year. The right-handed Reimold is also a more imposing figure at 6'4'' and 207 lbs. While they are both 23 years old, Fiorentino is six months older than Reimold.
Both players have above-average speed and have played centerfield in their minor league careers. Scouts will tell you that both are plus defenders in the corners, although Reimold profiles slightly better in right field. Despite this, Fiorentino has a better chance of sticking in centerfield. His defensive routes have improved substantially this season. Both Fiorentino and Reimold have strong throwing arms.
Luckily, there is an easy point of reference in their respective offensive careers. Both Fiorentino and Reimold played at Frederick in the Carolina League while in their age 22 seasons.
The most startling number is the walk to strikeout ratio; Reimold was clearly the better judge of the strike zone by almost a 2 to 1 margin over at the same age. This may not be doing Fiorentino justice, however. Despite having a largely unsuccessful season in 2006, he did improve his plate discipline dramatically. Their career numbers are a much closer .66 to .57. At Frederick, Fiorentino hit a homerun in every 18.77 at bats while Reimold nailed one every 21.84 trips to the plate. But Reimold has the edge in the rate at which they hit doubles; Fiorentino hit a double in every 22.94 at bats while Reimold stroked one every 15.96 at bats.
Although their minor league numbers may be similar, it is clear that Reimold has the higher ceiling. In batting practice in the AFL, he was easily the most fun player to watch. Fiorentino may be a safer bet to be a solid major league hitter, but if Reimold is able to further refine his approach, he has a chance to be a special hitter.
One of the biggest questions being asked by the Orioles nation this off-season is can either of them be the answer, or at least part of the answer in left field. Both could, and perhaps should, be left to play at least another season of minor league ball. However, due to his premature call up last year, Fiorentino has only one more option year left. This serves the dual purpose of making it easier to rush his development schedule and making it easier to include him in any potential trades. Reimold, on the other hand, has all three options left and can garner more playing time while he works his way through the system. Both could probably play defense next year in Camden Yards and do a more than adequate job at it.
If the Orioles fail to sign a big name left fielder and try to make do with a platoon, it's much more likely that Fiorentino could become part of the mix, particularly if he continues to rake in spring training. In this scenario, Reimold could continue to hone his skills in the minors while providing depth for the big league team. The ideal scenario would have Fiorentino being able to play full time, at whatever level, instead of stagnating as a bench player for the Orioles. Hopefully, Adam Stern is able to perform well enough in that role to decrease the likelihood of this development.