HT: 6-2 WT: 220 POS: OF
Bowie Baysox/Norfolk Tides (127 G, 456 AB, .272/.345/.386)
Drafted in the 3rd round of the 2002 draft, Val Majewski quickly became a bright light in the Orioles' system. He made his major league debut in his third professional season. Unfortunately, he tore his left (throwing) labrum that September. He spent that off-season trying to rehab his shoulder, but surgery became unavoidable and he missed the entire 2005 season.
After coming back in 2006, Majewski had a lackluster season with the new triple-A affiliate in Norfolk. He was moved to left field and first base to alleviate some stress on his throwing arm and his bat speed, never a strong suit, did not fully return. Majewski got a surprise assignment to double-A Bowie to start 2007, but earned a promotion after hitting .295/.358/.410 in 332 at bats.
He told ITW "Last year, my shoulder was affecting my swing. I was looking at videotape and saw that I was favoring it a bit. I didn't realize it up there at the plate, but the video showed tentativeness. Once I realized I could trust my shoulder strength, I tried to mimic what I had done successfully in the past."
Two full years after his labrum surgery, Majewski's bat speed has still not fully recovered. He was off to a slow start in Bowie, but hit .310 in June and .353 in July to earn a promotion. Unfortunately, he flopped again down the stretch for the Norfolk Tides.
At this point, it's hard to see Majewski regaining the prospect status that made him the best position player not named Nick Markakis in the organization. He has a good idea of the strike zone, but the ~25 home run potential he showed at 23 years old isn't there anymore. With average speed and the ability to maintain a ~.280 batting average in the major leagues, he could find a role as a bat off the bench.
Earlier this season, Val Majewski told ITW "The arm strength is back and I'm just trying to put it behind me and focus on everything except my shoulder." The Orioles felt confident enough in his arm strength that they moved him back to right field for the majority of this season. Majewski is an incredibly hard worker and gets the most out of his natural ability. With good reads and average speed, he can handle centerfield in a pinch, but is stretched to play there too often.
Majewski will be 27 years old next season and has yet to master triple-A pitching. He gets a mulligan of sorts because of the injury, but 2008 will likely be his last chance to reclaim a future in the Orioles' organization. If his shoulder is 100%, there's no reason he can't force his way onto the 25-man roster as a 4th or 5th outfielder type with a good showing in Norfolk.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via e-mail at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com