Highlights- Radhames Liz will look to build off a promising 2006. After a promotion to double-A Bowie, Liz finally learned that he can't throw his fastball by advanced hitters if it is all he throws. He has a promising curveball that Pitching Coach Scott McGregor will make him throw more often, but he'll need to show more with his slider and changeup to remain a starter long-term. Jim Hoey will also start back at double-A Bowie, which is the highest level of the minors he has pitched at. With less than 20 inning above A-ball, it won't hurt him to get more exposure against competition his age, but don't expect him to struggle.
Sleepers- David Haehnel will hope a return to the bullpen outweighs his first exposure to the upper minors. BaseballHQ's Deric McKamey told ITW "I think you'll see a much better season out of David Haehnel if the Orioles return him to the bullpen. With his deceptive delivery and ability to change speeds, he could dominate like he did in 2005. Watch his command and strikeout ability improve with a return to relief." Jim Miller will join him to form a formidable back end of the bullpen. Part of the haul for Rodrigo Lopez, Miller has an outstanding fastball, but flyball tendencies that didn't bode well for a future in Colorado. Beau Hale hopes to continue his Cinderella story back to prospectdom. Finally healthy at 29 years old, time is running out. Fredy Deza has a solid fastball/slider combo out of the bullpen and might be a solid middle reliever in time. Chris Waters is a player that ITW Contributor John Kazlo likens to Eric DuBose. Cory Morris has always missed bats, but he only seems to find his control every other year. Rommie Lewis keeps the ball on the ground, but off-the-field issues have led to doubts about his commitment to the game.
Highlights- Whiteside has a great arm and good pop but little idea of the strike zone. No matter how many baserunners he throws out, a .220 hitter who doesn't take walks just doesn't play… unless he is guaranteed $900,000…
Sleepers- Hubele was once thought of as a potential major league reserve, but his career has stalled out in the upper minors.
Highlights- Brandon Sing has legitimate power and knows how to take a walk. Once a top prospect, he suffered through a tumultuous 2006 that was largely brought on by an allergy condition that affected his eyesight. It is not out of the question that he still emerges as a legitimate big league first baseman. Figueroa will continue being groomed for a utility role, though he continues to develop as a table-setter. Hernandez has excellent defensive chops and does all the little things that old school types like to see out of a shortstop. At 23 years old, he still has plenty of time to reclaim his once highly regarded prospect status.
Sleepers- Bryan Bass is a former first round pick that the Orioles sent to the AFL, but he hasn't resembled a prospect since 2001. His swing is long and upper level pitchers have had little problem exploiting it, but he is an athletic defender.
Highlights- It is surprising that both Fiorentino and Majewski will start the season in double-A Bowie in deference to the multitude of minor league free agents brought in this year. Due to his premature call-up in 2005, Fiorentino has to stick on the O's 25-man roster next season or be passed through waivers. After getting healthy and dominating the Eastern League at the end of 2006, it is hard to believe that the organization feels he will be best prepared for the jump in some place other than triple-A. The lone silver lining is that, without Adam Stern to contend with, he will continue his impressive defensive development by remaining in centerfield. Majewski showed some improvement after a very rocky start returning from labrum surgery last season. With his reputation as an extremely hard worker, I'll be surprised if he doesn't make this particular decision look silly in short order. Nolan Reimold, on the other hand, is right on pace in his development schedule and should provide the Baysox with a third offensive force in the outfield.
Sleepers- Matt Cepicky is a former 4th round pick that has served as triple-A insurance for various clubs in the past few years. He has some speed, some pop, and can take a walk; however, the most telling part of his resume is that he failed to crack the Florida Marlins' outfield experiment of 2006.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com