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.
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.”