The calendar page has turned to September and baseball fans know what that means. It’s time for all major league rosters expand to 40 instead of 25 during the last month of the regular season. September Call Ups have arrived.
Managers and organizations give up and coming, future players a chance to impress their club and justify their promotion to the big leagues. Although the Orioles’ struggles continue, there is promise in their farm system and we’ll get a sneak peak of some of their future stars this month.
As we all have seen this year, the Birds need solid pitching heading into the coming years. Recently the organization has tried to bring in older, experienced hurlers, but that has not worked for them in the past. Building around a young core of talented pitchers will give them a better shot at improving more quickly. Although all of the Orioles’ pitchers vying for a role on next year’s squad have experience at the major league level, it’s very minimal. The major league pitching staff is fairly young too so this committment to young hurlers is now in its second season.
The 26-year-old hurler from the Netherlands debuted for the Florida Marlins on April 20th, 2007, but has not spent much time at the major league level since then. VandenHurk started 17 games for the Fish in ’07 and sported a 4-6 record with an inflated 6.83 ERA in 18 appearances.
VandenHurk has bounced around since 2003, but as a major leaguer, he’s started 33 games with 8 wins and 10 losses in his young career. In 173.1 innings pitched, he’s surrendered 112 earned runs on 188 base hits.
Initially, the Marlins used VandenHurk primarily as a starting pitcher. But, in his last year with the Florida club and in his time with the Birds so far, he’s mainly been used out of the bullpen.
In parts of nine minor league seasons, he’s pitched to a 37-38 record over 624.2 innings with 268 earned runs on 548 base hits (3.86 ERA). He’s started 123 games in the minors with one relief appearance.The Birds are always looking for quality arms out of the rotation, so this is his time to shine and prove he can start games at the big league level.
The Birds acquired the 26-year-old right-handed pitcher Pedro Strop off of waivers from the Texas Rangers earlier this month. Although he hasn’t proved himself thus far at the major league level, his minor league statistics speak for themselves.
In parts of six seasons in the minors, Strop sports a 19-15 record with a very respectable 3.79 ERA. Since breaking into the minors in ’06, he’s appeared in 202 games, tossed 242.0 innings and allowed 102 earned runs on 214 base hits.
With the Rangers and Orioles at the major league level, Strop appeared in 34 games and sports a lofty 6.99 ERA as he’s allowed 22 earned runs and 30 base hits in just 28.1 innings.
The Birds called up the 24-year-old left-handed pitcher Zach Phillips for the first time at the end of August and he debuted for the Orioles on August 31st; with a scoreless, two-hit inning against the rival Jays. In his second appearance the next night, he struck out the only batter he faced.
Over his seven seasons in the minors, he’s made 98 starts and 129 relief appearances. He sports a 32-40 record with a 4.08 ERA as he’s tossed 695.2 IP and has allowed 315 ER on 704 hits.
Phillips has pitched well so far with the major league club but will need to turn some heads this September. The fact that he is a left-handed hurler is a major plus for any organization.
Baltimore’s offense this season has been much more consistent than their pitching staff. There is always room for improvement.
Kyle Hudson, OF The Birds only added one call up to their outfield, and left-fielder Kyle Hudson made his major league debut today in left field against the Tampa Bay Rays. In his first game, he went 0-3 and grounded into two double plays. The Orioles drafted him in the 4thround of the 2008 Major League Draft, so he’s still very inexperienced and just getting his feet wet.
Although the 24-year-old outfielder hasn’t displayed power yet in the minors, he’s showed the ability to collect base hits and create havoc on the base paths. In only three full minor-league seasons he’s collected 385 base hits and swiped 119 bases. The Birds could use someone who is a threat on the bases and generate some runs.
Hudson might not be ready right away for the big league club, but this is a great learning experience and a chance for him to get his name recognized.
Baltimore is not in the thick on a pennant race but there is much work to be done over this final month. Look for these young athletes to start playing in more games over the course of the rest of the season.
Here is a link to the active Orioles’ roster as of September 4th http://orioles.mlb.com/team/roster_active.jsp?c_id=bal.
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About the Author
Written by Alex Van Rees
I am 22 years old and I recently graduated from James Madison University this May with a BA degree and a major in journalism. I live in Reston, VA, about 20 minutes outside of Washington. I am looking for an entry-level position with a sports media company where I can demonstrate my writing, interviewing and technical skills to better the organization.