Scouts opine on O's rotation 'full of frustrating guys' -
Dan Connolly

Scouts opine on O’s rotation ‘full of frustrating guys’

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

I had a chance to talk to two major league scouts that have seen the Orioles multiple times this month. I’ll share parts of those interviews over the next few days.

The piece I wanted to share with you today is the scouts’ thoughts on what we all have identified as the most concerning — and potentially important — part of this club: The starting rotation.

I wanted to understand what the professionals are thinking, and see if it meshes with my thoughts (and yours). Obviously, I’m not linking these guys’ names to their comments; otherwise they wouldn’t share their observations. Neither, however, works for the Orioles.

Their insights:

Scout A on the O’s rotation: “They have a staff full of frustrating guys. Ubaldo is a frustrating guy. Tillman is a frustrating guy. I think Gausman is going to come into his own, but I do worry that the disconnect we’ve heard about between the minor leagues and major leagues will come into play again the way it did in the past with some other guys.”

Scout B on the lack of an ace: “If I had to add something to that club it would be a starting pitcher – if there is a really good starting pitcher out there. Adding another fourth starter, that’s not going to make them any better. You’ve got to go out and get an impact guy, and we all know those trades aren’t readily available. … Now, if Gausman peaks, he can match up with power-arm guys at the top of rotations. And that’s like making a trade for a No. 2.”

Scout A on Chris Tillman: “You could read seven years of reports from me and he’s a second starter, a third starter, a fourth starter depending on the flip of a coin the night that I see him. I mean, you like his size, his stuff, but I don’t know, there’s something missing. I don’t know if it is a lack of focus or what. You look at 7 to 8 years of being optimistic, and you still don’t know if he is a third, a second, a fourth. It doesn’t seem like it’s a lack of trying. He is very frustrating.”

Scout B on Tillman: “He’s Jekyll and Hyde. I don’t know what you are getting. I saw him (Opening Day) and he was Nolan (Frigging) Ryan before it rained. He struck out five in two innings; it might have been the best I’ve ever seen him. His cutter was dynamic. Next time I see him he doesn’t know where anything is going. His fastball was up and he had no command whatsoever. When he is commanding the ball, he is really, really good. He’s got the ammo.”

Scout A on Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson: “I like Wilson. Wilson really knows how to pitch and will compete, and I think over the long haul he’ll be very consistent. Whereas with Wright, you watch his stuff and you see it in certain outings and you think, ‘This guy is really coming.’ And then you watch it again and it’s not there.”

Scout B on Wright: “Wright’s got a big arm. The more he gets out there, the better feel he is going to get. At this point, he is a thrower. He lacks command and confidence in his secondary stuff. When he gets better command of strike one with his fastball, he’ll be able to use his other pitches better. His breaking ball is a little inconsistent, but his changeup looks like it is much improved. I think he can be a solid No. 3, No. 4 starter. I can’t go any higher than that unless his secondary stuff improves.”

Scout B on Wilson: “He’s a strike thrower, a go-get-him type guy that I think will go up and down that major-league/minor-league ladder. He’s got a little cutting action on the fastball but there’s not enough velocity, so he’s got to be pinpoint and perfect all the time. That stuff works for a while, but I don’t know about its longevity. To me, he’s a long guy in the bullpen, versatile, a gamer-type. He’s a great guy to have in the bullpen to suck up innings. But who knows? Maybe he ends up as Greg Maddux.”

Scout B on Vance Worley: “He knows how to pitch with what he’s got. He’s not scared. He can sink, cut and spin the ball. He’s always had spin on the ball. He’s a fifth starter or long guy for me, but he’ll hang around and somebody will always use this guy. He’ll always have a job because he knows how to pitch.”

Scout A on the rotation’s bottom line: “They have some guys who have all the weapons to make them very competitive. It’s just a matter of them being consistent at some point. And, for some of them, we’ve been waiting for that consistency for some time.”



  1. JohnBKistler

    April 27, 2016 at 7:29 am

    They have a bunch of #3, #4 and #5 starters. Nothing new here (unfortunately).

    • Dan Connolly

      April 27, 2016 at 9:14 am

      I just always like getting other opinions, especially from those who do it for a living.

  2. BleedOrange

    April 27, 2016 at 8:31 am

    No one on here is a bigger homer than me. I’m ashamed to say it, but our starting rotation likes ‘grit’. They are slowly becoming known as the bare minimum boys. To continually hear Buck say our starting pitching gave us a shoot is irritating. Even worse is to hear starting

  3. BleedOrange

    April 27, 2016 at 8:36 am

    pitchers who had a fair outing put a better spin on the outing than it really was. At some point each man has to say he aint beating me, I’m going to bare down and get us through this spot. It’s no accident that Jim Palmer never gave up a grand slam, that was all blood, guts and

  4. BleedOrange

    April 27, 2016 at 8:37 am

    and willing his team on to victory. Can we have just a little of that come out of out starting rotation?

    • Dan Connolly

      April 27, 2016 at 9:11 am

      I hear what you are saying. Knowing these guys as people, you get a sense of the intensity and grit, but it doesn’t always carry over to the mound.

  5. Creatively_19

    April 27, 2016 at 8:54 am

    So true. Would love to see the O’s go out and get an Ace, but not sure that fits with the “Grow the Arms, by the Bats” Philosophy. Also trading away guys like Eduardo Rodriguez and Zack Davies for short term rentals hasn’t helped.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 27, 2016 at 9:12 am

      Good point, though I’d still do the Miller-ERod deal. He helped get them to the ALCS, no doubt.

  6. weams

    April 27, 2016 at 9:10 am

    A very good take. A lot to think about covered here. Other than the freak of Arrieta, I’ve seen no real impact from any of the ones that got away. It might be time to start drafting all pitchers again and sign two Alvarez/Trumbo/Cruz every year.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 27, 2016 at 9:15 am

      As you know, though, still no guarantee on any draftees making it to the top of a rotation. Pitching is such a crapshoot.

  7. OsDent

    April 27, 2016 at 10:57 am

    So who is to blame? Love Buck but has anyone challenged him on why his pitchers are not developing?

    • Dan Connolly

      April 27, 2016 at 12:38 pm

      Kind of a fine line. What’s not developing? Becoming All Stars or getting to the bigs and contributing? Farmhands Wright, Wilson, Gausman, Britton, Givens, Matusz, Bundy all in the majors right now. Developing pitching hardest thing in the sport. People look to the Rays, but remember Archer and Odorizzi both were traded into that system.

  8. giggs32

    April 27, 2016 at 11:07 am

    Gausman has a lot of the stuff needed but he has to be able to consistently spin a ball. Fastball and change are really top notch but without a third pitch, he will never be an ace. Tillman, as the scout said, is maddening. The Orioles fortunes ride on his arm and have the past 4 years. Got to command the baseball better. I am hopeful for Bundy down the line as a starter. We will see. Good thing no one else in the AL East is great either.

  9. jcash4

    April 27, 2016 at 11:19 am

    Our pitching has been pretty good this far, better than most would have expected. Ubaldo had one pitch he would love to have back last night. It was a quality start. Not gonna win many games only scoring one run! The offense will bounce back

  10. OsDent

    April 27, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    Dan, I love to get an outsider’s perspective on how we draft compared to other teams? Where can we improve? Do we need more scouts?

    Also, is there still a disconnect between Buck and minors on how to develop pitching?

    • Dan Connolly

      April 27, 2016 at 12:43 pm

      Well, the Orioles have focused a lot of energy recently on amateur scouting. Is it enough? I don’t know. And so long as Rick Peterson, a Duquette guy with some nontraditional ideas, is director of pitching development, there are gonna be whispers of disconnect with Buck and his staff. Hard for me to tell from here whether differing opinions is good or fracturing.

  11. OsDent

    April 27, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    Good points and we do develop pitchers but these comments from Zach have me concerned. That being said we are winning which I will take all day and Sunday over prospects.

  12. Kevin from Maine

    April 27, 2016 at 5:06 pm

    I’ve been wondering for a couple years if it’s the pitching coach. Seems like they don’t go up attacking the strike zone and therefore never get into the 7th inning. They all nibble like that so it makes me think it’s more than just their individual tendencies. Throw strikes pitch to contact and trust your defense even in a bandbox. It’s a long season and O’Day isn’t as good after 80 appearances. I’ll not discuss Jim Johnson here either but does your closer really need to pitch every save opportunity?

  13. CharlesVillageChris

    April 28, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    Fortunately the Orioles are not the Rays. They don’t need a shutout every night to win games. By my count there are maybe 10 legitmate #1, impact arms in baseball right now. The Orioles can’t just give up until an ace develops, they have to win with what’s available.

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