First up in the team preview series, the Delmarva Shorebirds. They will be followed by the Frederick Keys, Bowie Baysox and Norfolk Tides.
Last year the Delmarva Shorebirds featured an old rotation and a bunch of toolsy outfielder. This year, however, the team will have a totally different look. A rotation of Oliver Drake (23 years old), Nathan Moreau (23), Ryan O’Shea (23), Cole McCurry (24), Chris Salberg (25) and Rick Zagone (22) will be replaced with a bunch of 2009 draftees, including one or two high schoolers.
Matt Hobgood – He may be taking a bug jump from Bluefield to Delmarva, but the Orioles feel like he is ready. Hobgood wasn’t awful with Bluefield even though he didn’t have his best stuff. He was sitting in just the high 80’s with his fastball, but was able to maintain a solid ground ball rate.
Jake Cowan – Beyond Hobgood, Cowan is another 2009 draftee that you should keep your eyes on. Cowan will try to build off his 2009 season with Aberdeen where he registered a 2.25 ERA with 27 strikeouts in 24 innings. Cowan was once considered a first round pick but dropped due to elbow tendinitis and the Orioles grabbed him in the 10th round. Reports say Cowan flashes three potential plus pitches and I am extremely excited to see what this kid can do.
Ashur Tolliver – He is another guy from the 2009 draft who should start the season with Delmarva, but I doubt he’ll finish there. Tolliver is a little guy and I believe the Orioles are going to use him as a reliever. He can hit the mid 90’s with his fastball and could zoom through the system.
Kevin Landry – Yet another 2009 draftee, Landry registered 43 strikeouts in 27 innings at Aberdeen last season. We’ll see whether the Orioles use him as a starter or reliever, but he definitely has some potential.
Tyler Townsend – After struggling with Aberdeen in his debut, I expect Townsend to start 2010 with Delmarva. He put up a .858 SLG in college and his hit and power tools are both above-average. He doesn’t have a true position so his bat will have to carry him through the system.
Garabez Rosa – Along with Luis Lebron and Pedro Florimon Jr., Rosa is our top international prospect. In 2009, he had just 8 walks in 220 at-bats with Aberdeen and along with improving his patience at the plate, he needs to improve almost every part of his game. The tools are there and we could see a jump in production from Rosa soon.
A few people believe Mychal Givens will debut with Delmarva, but I have my money on him starting with the Aberdeen IronBirds.
Delmarva should be a much more exciting team as they have a nice mix of pitchers and hitters. It’s a much more balanced team than last year and you could even see Aaron Wirsch or Bobby Bundy there later in the season.