The Orioles announced moving up two of their prized pitching prospects — right-hander Jake Arrieta and southpaw Troy Patton — to Triple-A Norfolk on Friday. Arrieta went 6-3 with a 2.59 ERA at Double-A Bowie, and Patton, who missed all of last season after undergoing surgery on his throwing shoulder, was 6-2 with a 1.99 ERA at Bowie.
Patton and Arrieta join fellow prospect Chris Tillman at Triple-A Norfolk, giving the Orioles three more young arms at the top rung of their farm system.
The Orioles began making their first cuts of the spring on Saturday, although some of the players may hang around for an extra day or two before they depart to the team’s Minor League complex in Sarasota. Perhaps the most prominent of the cuts was right-hander Chris Tillman, who’s considered one of the team’s best pitching prospects.
Tillman, just 20 years old, is expected to split the season between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk and might be the first of Baltimore’s top prospects to reach the Majors. For now, he’s concentrating on what he has to do next.
“They kind of let me know I’m here for the experience and to get to know the guys. The time will come,” he said. “They’re not sure where I’ll start because there are so many pitchers now, which is a good thing. I’m happy to be part of it. And either way, it’s a positive.”
Other cuts include Jake Arrieta, Fredy Deza, Ryan Keefer, Adam Donachie, Jose Reyes and Craig Brazell. The Orioles also announced after the game that they were also reassigning first-round draftee Brian Matusz, Troy Patton, David Hernandez, Chorye Spoone and Jim Hoey to their Minor League camp in Sarasota, wrapping up the first round of cuts.
Baltimore manager Dave Trembley passed on a high compliment to two of his team’s top prospects on Friday, when he said that Matt Wieters and Jake Arrieta are among the most polished youngsters he’s ever seen. Trembley, who managed in the Minor Leagues for 20 years, said that Wieters is likely the best position player prospect he’s ever been around.
And by way of comparison to another arm, he also had high marks for Arrieta.
“The best pitching prospect I’ve had was Kerry Wood, and I had him in A-Ball and Double-A,” he said. “I told people. I had Wood when he was 18, and [I’d say], “He ain’t going to be in the Minor Leagues very long.’ And you could just tell. He was a man. That’s what Arrieta is to me. He’s a man, right now. You can tell. …And that’s how Wieters is. He’s a man.”
The Orioles have released their pitching plans for Tuesday’s exhibition game against Team Italy, and there won’t be a soft arm in the bunch. Baltimore plans on pitching its best prospects against Italy, headlined by first round draftee Brian Matusz.
Matusz, who has never pitched in a full-season professional league, will work one inning. He’ll be followed by Troy Patton, Brad Bergesen, Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta, Wilfrido Perez, David Hernandez and Jim Hoey. Bergesen is the only pitcher scheduled to work two innings.
Only two of those eight pitchers — Patton and Hoey — have ever pitched in the Majors. Top prospect Matt Wieters is expected to catch, but that hasn’t been confirmed yet. Baltimore prospects Jeff Fiorentino and Mike Costanzo are expected to play for Italy.