Like the majority of the Orioles’ 2009 draft picks, Ashur Tolliver‘s season was hampered by injuries. A sore shoulder kept him in extended spring training and as a result wasn’t able to open 2010 with the Shorebirds, as most expected. Instead, Tolliver spent all of 2010 pitching out of the Aberdeen bullpen where he produced mixed results. His FIP (4.31) was more than a run below his ERA (5.77), which is always a good sign, though his strikeout rate was not where it should be.
Tolliver, 6′ 0″, 170 lbs., is a tiny lefty, but often able to generate low 90’s heat. His fastball generally sits in the 89-92 mph range, and has touched 96 mph in the past. His fastball doesn’t have tons of life, but he keeps it down in the zone which has enabled him to post some solid ground ball numbers and keep the ball in the park. His changeup is his out pitch and he’ll throw a 79-81 mph breaking ball every so often.
He throws from a low 3/4 arm-slot and there is some effort to his delivery. There was some hope Tolliver could progress through the system as a starter, but with a shoulder injury bothering him for a large part of 2010, and concerns over his body handling starter’s workload, he’ll likely remain in the bullpen.
I can’t imagine Tolliver’s velocity was in its pre-draft range during most of last season, as we would have seen much better results if he was in the lower 90’s. If my hunch is correct and Tolliver regains his velocity it wouldn’t surprise me to see him open 2011 with Delmarva and post some impressive numbers. Right now it looks as if he’s a potential LOOGY, but if he stays healthy and gets his fastball back he could shoot up this list and project as a late inning reliever.