A rival scout sizes up the ORIOLES
With NELSON CRUZ this is a deep, dangerous lineup.... I wouldn't want to pitch to CHRIS DAVIS. He's not just a one-tool power guy—their hitting coach, Jim Presley, did a great job of getting him to stay on the ball and not spin off and try to hit home runs. He's so strong, he hits a ball the other way 450 feet.... NICK MARKAKIS has looked good. He's not your classic leadoff hitter, but he gets on base, sees a lot of pitches and doesn't give away at bats.... MATT WIETERS does a good job calling the game and throwing, but the wear and tear of catching as much as he does is taking its toll offensively.... KEVIN GAUSMAN is not tapping on the door, he's knocking it down. He's just like Stephen Strasburg: a fast-track college pitcher who knows how to pitch.... Every scout in camp was wondering, "Which ZACH BRITTON are we going to see?" It's the really, really good one. He was sitting at 96 mph with straight-down sink the two times I saw him.... I see Tom Glavine in WEI-YIN CHEN: cool, paints the outside corner, pushes guys back inside, really good feel for controlling bat speed.... TOMMY HUNTER has more than enough power and stuff, but when he's up in the zone, he gets hit. But if he gets down through the ball, it's 97 at the bottom of the zone. If he does that, he'll be damn good as their closer.... DARREN O'DAY does something that a lot of sidearmers don't do: He runs balls to the top of the zone to push hitters back. Everybody looks down and away, and they can't get on top of the balls up.
2014 Projected Statistics and Run Totals by ROTOWIRE.COM
PROJECTED RUNS SCORED
AL AVERAGE 694
PROJECTED RUNS ALLOWED
AL AVERAGE 707
In February the Orioles signed UBALDO JIMENEZ to bolster their rotation. In doing so, they may have cut off one path to the kind of major improvement they need. Righthander KEVIN GAUSMAN, Baltimore's first-round pick in 2012, began shakily last season—a 7.66 ERA in five starts—but rebounded while working out of the bullpen: At year's end he had an excellent 49/11 strikeout-to-unintentional-walk ratio in 47 2/3 innings. Gausman works at 95--96 mph and has a major league changeup. Those pitches, along with a developing slider, give him an upside that the Orioles' staff of No. 3 and 4 starters lacks. And yet he started the spring in a battle for the No. 5 slot and seems ticketed for the O's bullpen or the Triple A rotation. Baltimore needs to hit big on some prospects to make a run in the AL East. Gausman, rather than the innings-eaters he's fighting for a spot with, gives the team the best chance to close the gap on the division's big boys.
PATRICK SMITH FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (DAVIS)
CHUCK SOLOMON FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (JIMENEZ)