As the earliest draft pick to sign with the Orioles in 2004, Fiorentino has been given more immediate attention than many 3rd round picks. He looked like a steal in his debut, when he destroyed A-ball pitching. In his full season debut in high-A Frederick the following year, Fiorentino launched 21 home runs and again ranked as one of the top prospects in the organization. The Orioles made the dubious decision to promote him to the majors that season and, despite a 4 for 4 debut, he was clearly overmatched. He struggled upon a demotion back to Frederick and didn't look like the same player until late in 2006. Despite this, Fiorentino speaks well of his early experience in the big leagues, telling ITW "I think it helped me. Everyone thinks that it set me back and is hurting me, but it absolutely didn't. I've learned so much since then and I think I'm a better and more complete baseball player because of it."
DOB: 04/14/83 Height: 6-1 Weight: 180 B/T: L/R
Jeff Fiorentino's age 23 season:
Jeff Fiorentino got off to a rocky start in his first exposure to double-A pitching. Much of that was due to some health concerns, but he took the Eastern League by storm in August prior to a cup of coffee with the Orioles. He has an odd swing that looks stiff and prevents him from getting around against left-handers. Many young players grow out of their platoon splits, but Fiorentino's appears to be contingent on his unconventional approach and probably won't improve with more experience. He has the potential to hit for a ~.280 batting average, maybe better in a strict platoon role, with enough power to hit 15 home runs annually. His plate discipline to a major step forward this year and he could slot into the 2-hole as an on-base threat with a tick above-average speed.
Although he was hampered by nagging injuries to his hamstring and ankle, Fiorentino impressed the organization with his growth as a defender in the outfield. While this didn't appear to be the case even one year ago, he now appears capable of manning all three outfield positions in the show.
Earlier, Fiorentino told ITW "When you're in right field, the balls going to move one way. In center and left, another. As long as you're prepared for it, you're going to be fine." He split his time in Bowie between left field and centerfield, but he actually looked better in center. His routes have improved significantly and he has a strong arm that plays at any position.
With the signing of Jay Payton, it will take an injury to get Fiorentino in the majors in 2007. Despite his merely adequate overall numbers in Bowie, he is pretty close to a finished product. Norfolk's run-suppressing environment will hurt his numbers in 2007, but he will be in Baltimore to stay by 2008. In part, this is because he has to be due to his premature call-up and addition the 40-man roster in 2005. Fiorentino and Payton could make a potent platoon in centerfield if the Orioles let Corey Patterson walk and fail to sign one of the big name free agents this off-season. Fiorentino is the type of player that tends to be underrated- average to good at a lot of things, but not a standout in any one area. Some feel he will only be a good fourth outfielder long-term, but he is fully capable of handling the lion's share of a platoon at any spot in the outfield. His could emerge as a similar player to Curtis Granderson.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at Publisher@InsideTheWarehoue.com