Heading into the 2006 season, one member of the Orioles' 40-man roster just didn't seem to fit in with the rest. He had been with the organization so long that he had to be re-signed as a six year minor league free agent, yet he had not pitched above A-ball. Still, the Orioles stuck with their man, even making the controversial decision to designate the popular Walter Young for assignment instead. Of course, I‘m referring to Marino Salas. And in 2006, Salas rewarded the Orioles by having his most promising season yet.
DOB: 02/02/81 Height: 6-0 Weight: 181 B/T: R/R
Marino Salas's Age 25 season:
Marino Salas works with a fastball that sits at 92-94 MPH. His control, obviously, is quite good. However, he sometimes had trouble keeping his fastball on the fringes of the strike zone and elevates more often than Bowie Pitching Coach Scott McGregor would like. Salas also has a solid slider that will operate as his second pitch in the major leagues. He has no changeup, which leaves him open to opposing left-handers.
The Orioles decision to protect Salas at all costs may have looked curious a year ago, but he now looks on track to be a contributing member of the bullpen by 2008. He will always have to be handled carefully in order to avoid overexposure to opposing lefties, but the Orioles are hopeful he can develop beyond a ROOGY role. While he'll be 26 years old for the entirety of the 2007 season, Salas is clearly a late-bloomer. He should be among the first in line to help the major league bullpen, should injuries or ineffectiveness hit.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com