Minor League Hotsheet

Inside The Warehouse takes a look around the minors at which prospects are off to hot starts. Some of them may be taking their games to the next level, while others are likely to fall back to earth.

Delmarva Shorebirds

Batting

Brandon Tripp - Touted as a defensive specialist with holes in his swing, Tripp has (at least temporarily) silenced his detractors with a .378/.452/.595 start. Especially impressive is his solid 4:6 BB:K ratio.

David Cash - Despite being best known as the son of the former O's first base coach, Cash is building off a solid debut season in 2006 with a .351/.368/.378. Sure, it's very batting average-dependent, but he is clearly seeing the ball well.

Chris Vinyard - The former 38th round draft and follow is proving that his excellent debut in 2006 was no fluke, with a .289/.357/.526 start. His 10 strikeouts in 38 at bats, however, are an ominous sign for a player that some feel will struggle to maintain a high batting average in the upper levels.

Pitching

Brad Bergesen - The second highest drafted player to sign with the Orioles in the 2004 draft, Bergesen has thrown 12 scoreless frames to kick off the season. Although his strikeout rate is still middling, he has a knack for keeping the ball on the ground.

Pedro Beato - After a sparkling opener, Beato stumbled a bit in his second start. Despite this, his overall numbers still look pretty good- with a 3.60 ERA and 10 strikeouts in as many frames. He's a top prospect, to be sure, but it may be another year or two before it all starts to come together for him.

Bruce Gallaway - A fringe prospect at best, Gallaway is doing his best to get some early helium into his stock. Through 4.1 innings, he has been perfect, with five strikeouts.

Frederick Keys

Batting

Jonathan Tucker - Always the smallest guy on the field, Tucker can be fun to watch play. He has a way of looking out of place at first and then shooting a flare over an infielders head for a single. He also has a discerning eye at the plate, though his .393/.452/.393 batting line accurately demonstrates his lack of power.

Blake Davis - Davis is doing exactly what the Orioles were hoping for when they drafted him in the 4th round of the 2006 draft- playing polished defense and setting up the meat of the order. In the early part of the season, he has a .316/.381/.421 batting line that is certainly maintainable with for a player of his skillset. If he is able to continue walking once per 10 at bats, he could be ready sooner than expected.

Pitching

Brandon Erbe - Though his ERA is a sparkling 2.25 through 12 innings, Erbe has looked less dominant than he did at times in 2006. His 5:6 K:BB ratio certainly won't sustain that ERA for long, though it's a good bet that he starts missing more bats. The Orioles have taken the reins off a bit this season, allowing him to go 6 innings in both of his starts thus far, and he looked like the workload had taken some toll on him by the end of his last start. Let's not forget that this is still a 19 year old kid who has some maturing to do physically.

Bob McCrory - Serving as the Keys' closer to start the season, the 24 year old McCrory is a good bet to finish up at a higher level. His stuff is excellent and only injuries have held him back recently. Through his first 3 innings pitched, he has surrendered 2 hits and posted a 3:0 K:BB ratio.

Bowie Baysox

Batting

Nolan Reimold - O's fans will be happy to note that a healthy Reimold has exploded out of the gates, despite mixed reviews of his spring. His .367/.387/.767 batting line is a testament to his high-end power and I wish I could describe the sound of the ball off his bat when he hit a homerun against Chuck Lofgren last week. His 7:1 K:BB ratio in 30 at bats is less impressive, but no one is expecting him to win any batting titles. Watch for his walk rate to rise and his power numbers to remain high as his batting average inevitably declines to the ~.270 range.

Luis Hernandez - Although he is yet to take a walk in 35 at bats, Hernandez already has 3 doubles and 2 triples in the young season. With excellent defense, speed and some added power, his current .286 batting average might be enough to get him to the show. Certainly, he is proving to be a worthwhile waiver claim.

Pitching

Beau Hale - Carrying a 9:4 K:BB ratio through 2 starts and 11 frames has resulted in a nice 3.27 ERA for the 28 year old former first round pick. He also does an excellent job of keeping the ball on the ground. If he stays healthy, he may be in a line for a cup of coffee at some point this season.

Felix Romero - Despite 5 walks in 6.1 innings, Romero has yet to give up an earned run. How? Well, he's striking just about everyone else out, with 12 K's thus far. He didn't play professionally in 2006, but the 26 year old Romero has consistently posted sparkling ratios in the lower levels of the minors. He could emerge as an interesting bullpen sleeper.

Jim Miller - Seeking to reclaim the prospect status he once enjoyed in Colorado, 25 year old Jim Miller has used his mid-90's fastball to strike out 5 batter through 4.2 innings. He is another guy that could see some time in the show if the big league bullpen falters.

Jim Hoey - This year's Baysox closer, Hoey has recorded 3 scoreless one-inning saves with a 5:2 K:BB ratio. It goes without saying that the Orioles believe he could be a major piece in the big league bullpen as soon as this season.

Norfolk Tides

Batting

J.R. House - .353/.395/588. Look at that line again and then consider that J.R. House is actually behind his 2006 pace in the Houston Astros organization. He might not be the best defensive catcher in the world, but this guy could clearly help the Orioles. He's been working on his defense at the infield corners and could fashion himself into a valuable right-handed bat-off-the-bench type.

Pitching

Garrett Olson - After one so-so start and another good one, Olson is sporting a 3.27 ERA and a 9:4 K:BB ratio through 11 innings. He is the type of pitcher that could thrive in the friendly confines of Harbor Park. With Jaret Wright and Hayden Penn already injured, Olson could play a more significant role on the 2007 Orioles than originally thought.

James Johnson - After two very solid starts, Johnson is sporting a sparkling 1.80 ERA. Like Olson, he should thrive in Harbor Park. 2007 will go a long ways towards determining if Johnson is a future rotation workhorse or a fringe major leaguer. So far, so good.

Todd Williams - 4 innings, 5 hits, 0 runs, 3 K's, 0 BB's. Williams should continue to make short work of International League hitters. Owed over $700K this season, the Orioles have been trying to move him in a number of rumored deals. So far, they haven't been offered anything they like. Hopefully, Williams is soon able to find himself in a situation where he is allowed to contribute to a major league team.

Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via e-mail at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com


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