John Mariotti Promoted To Baysox

The more John Mariotti sinks, the more he will rise. He has one of the best sinkers in the Baltimore organization and is finally healthy again in 2009. Inside, find out what his Keys coaches think of him.

John Mariotti has been promoted from the Frederick Keys to the Bowie Baysox in a corresponding move to take the spot of injured starting pitcher Brandon Erbe.

Brandon Erbe was placed on the 7-day disabled list, retroactive to May 3. Mariotti was 1-2 with a 4.37 ERA in 22.2 innings in Frederick, splitting time between the bullpen and starting rotation. Mariotti features a heavy sinker and utilizes sliders and changeups as his secondary pitches. He does not get a lot of attention in the organization, but his Frederick coaches have the highest praise for him.

"Let me tell you he's got a great arm," Keys manager Richie Hebner said. "They may not talk about him, but I got news for you, he's sneaky."

While Brandon Erbe does not figure to spend too much time off the field, this is a big step in the right direction for Mariotti who battled injuries in Delmarva in 2008, only pitching in 33.2 innings last season. Kennie Steenstra, the Keys pitching coach, who was with the Shorebirds last year, said he would have liked to have seen what Mariotti would have been able to do with a full season last year.

"His slider is coming around, and he'll throw his changeup once in a while, but those pitches have got to improve," Steenstra said. "He's definitely a guy, down the line, who could get to the big leagues with what he's got."

Mariotti is a guy who likes to throw strikes, but has struggled at times with his command this year. For his career, he has a 2.7 BB/9 IP ratio and a 7.0 SO/9 IP ratio. Mariotti has increased his SO/9 IP ratio each season he has been in the organization since being selected in the 18th round of the 2007 first-year player draft. He has 21 strikeouts in his 22.2 innings pitched for 2009.

With his sinker, Mariotti also will collect a lot of groundball outs. On the season Mariotti has collected 4.11 groundball outs per fly ball out and even in a short season last year, his ratio was 5.64: 1. However, in Bowie he will need to throw his secondary pitches more often to continue his success and rise through the organizational levels.

While his stay in Bowie may be brief with Erbe eligible to come off the disabled list on Sunday, expect Mariotti to continue his rise through the organization, with or without the attention. Last year it was Brad Bergesen who kept on getting outs and found himself quickly rising, this year's version may be Mariotti. While there are big names in Norfolk, Mariotti is another symbol of how deep the pitching is throughout the Orioles' organization.

Steenstra "expects big things out of him this year," but Richie Hebner gave some of the highest praise to Mariotti a coach can give.

"I know people talk about the two lefties I have (Brian Matusz and Zach Britton) and guys in Bowie, but watch this kid," Hebner said. "He may find himself in the big leagues somewhere."

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