Rookies’ arrivals night and day, but both seem here to stay
By Brian Eller / MLB.com
BALTIMORE — Their entrances into the Major Leagues couldn’t have been any different.
One was simply another young bat in the Orioles’ 2009 lineup. Just another new name on the roster — no hype. No real expectations by anyone outside of the team clubhouse.
The other may as well been a giant block party. The announcement of his entrance came two days early. Ticket numbers for his first game increased an additional 15,000. He received a standing ovation at each plate appearance, despite the fact he would end up going 0-for-4 in his debut.
But for rookies Nolan Reimold and Matt Wieters, the methods of success that helped them climb the ladder through the Minor Leagues are helping them prove themselves in the Orioles’ lineup, and making sure their names are two that remain in the spotlight for a long time.
For Reimold, an injury-plagued start to his Minor League career put a stranglehold on teams that remained interested in the slugger. In 2005, Reimold led the NCAA in slugging percentage as a player at Bowling Green State University and was taken in the second round of that year’s First-Year Player Draft. A foot injury in ’06 and a strained oblique, which sidelined him for all but 50 games during his ’07 season with Bowie, delayed Reimold’s chances of earning a spot with the Orioles.
“I don’t think he’s ever been overlooked,” Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. “I just think he didn’t get his full opportunities because he was hurt.”
Wieters, on the other hand, was anything but overlooked from the first day he was taken by the Orioles in the first round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. The catcher’s Major League debut was so highly anticipated by fans and scouts that general manager Andy MacPhail announced Wieters’ addition to the Orioles roster two days before his debut.
Now, however, both Reimold and Wieters aren’t two young prospects trying to prove their callups weren’t premature. They’re two mainstays in the O’s lineup. Yes, they’re still rookies, but each game gives them a chance to develop their skills, both at the plate and in the field.
If Reimold continues to put up his number this season, he could find himself in contention for the American League’s Rookie of the Year Award. In 28 games, Reimold is batting .287 with seven home runs and 16 RBIs, the most in the AL by rookies. He has had three multiple-RBI games, including two three-RBI games this season — success Trembley feels like Remiold’s achieved by having “very good patience where he’s hit.”
While he seems to have found a niche at the plate, Reimold is also adjusting to left field. This season, he has started 23 games in left field, where he’s accumulated 43 putouts against only one error. Despite the early success, both Reimold and Trembley recognize there’s still plenty to work on.
“I still see him [tentative] with the ball in front of him,” Trembley said. “He’s a lot more aggressive with balls in the gaps and balls over his head. I try to tell him when he’s playing, ‘You have to play like there’s nobody in front of you. When it’s a ground ball, break really hard to get it. When there’s a popup, play like there’s nobody in front of you and go get it.'”
Wieters, however, has shown the prowess of a Major League catcher. Though he’s played in just 12 games compared to Reimold’s 28, Wieters has yet to make an error, and has 59 putouts in 95 1/3 innings this season behind the plate.
Despite a slow start in his first two series, Wieters’ bat is also beginning to heat up, having increased his batting average from .182 at the end of May to .233. Though he has yet to hit a home run or knock in a run, the rookie already has four multihit games, including three successive two-hit efforts from June 9-12.
“I’m starting to feel really good at the plate,” Wieters said. “I’m starting to see pitches and put some good swings on balls, and it always feels good to hit the barrel every now and again.”
Two Major League players with two entirely different debuts and starts to their careers. But both have been instrumental parts in the Orioles’ move toward rebuilding a championship team, and both are hoping to bring a title back to Baltimore.
And that’s a finale they both hope to share.
Brian Eller is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
THE NEW ERA CALL-UP STATS TRACKER
Andrew McCutchen’s Season Stats – Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB)
GP – 12; AVG – .333; 2B – 2; 3B – 2; HR – 0; RBI – 7; BB – 4; SO – 10; OPS – .824
Andrew McCutchen’s Season Stats – Indianapolis Indians (Triple-A)
GP – 49; AVG – .303; 2B – 10; 3B – 8; HR – 4; RBI – 20; BB – 17; SO – 24; OPS – .853
Matt Wieters’ Season Stats – Baltimore Orioles (MLB)
GP – 13; AVG – .234; 2B – 2; 3B – 1; HR – 0; RBI – 0; BB – 2; SO – 12; OPS – .584
Matt Wieters’ Season Stats – Norfolk Tides (Triple-A)
GP – 39; AVG – .305; 2B – 9; 3B – 2; HR – 5; RBI – 30; BB – 20; SO – 30; OPS – .890
Austin Jackson’s Season Stats – Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees (Triple-A)
GP – 61; AVG – .348; 2B – 15; 3B – 4; HR – 1; RBI – 27; BB – 23; SO – 64; OPS – .875
Jason Heyward’s Season Stats – Danville Braves (Rookie Appalachian Lge)
GP – 37; AVG – .295; 2B – 10; 3B – 0; HR – 9; RBI – 22; BB – 16; SO – 24; OPS – .935
Pirates’ McCutchen a future star
Pittsburgh Pirates’ prospect Andrew McCutchen hit an All-Star double,
playing in both the Futures Game and Triple-A All-Star Game.
With the trade of all-star Nate McLouth to the Atlanta Braves, center field for the the Pittsburgh Pirates is an open for position. Who will fill the spot is undecided.
But what has been decided is that McCutchen’s progress made the McLouth trade possible and that the rookie will fill one of the Pirates three outfield positions moving forward.
In two days, McCutchen has gone from Triple-A star to an everyday player in Major League Baseball.
McCutchen will don his first Authentic On-field cap as a member of the Pirates today in a matinee game against the New York Mets.
“I’m really excited,” McCutchen told MLB.com. “I really haven’t been able to kind of sit back and think about it.”
What are the Pirates expectations of McCutchen?
“He’ll stay within his abilities and drive balls gap-to-gap and collect doubles and triples and draw walks and be an impact base runner or play impact defense,” Huntington said. “If he just plays within himself, he has a chance to do some exiting things.”
VIDEO: HUNTINGTON TALKS ABOUT THE McLOUTH TRADE AND McCUTCHEN
Atlanta Braves catcher and All-Star candidate Brian McCann remembers receiving his first call-up. Receiving that authentic on-field cap for the first time didn’t exactly calm his nerves.
Click to play the video and watch the interview.
Can’t view the movie? Download Quicktime for free
The day New York Mets fans have been patiently anticipating finally came and went.
Their star prospect, outfielder Fernando Martinez donned his first New Era cap as a professional baseball player in New York’s 6-1 victory over the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night.
Martinez, 20, became the youngest rookie to start a game for the Mets since 19-year-old Jose Reyes debuted in 2003.
“Today that’s unbelievable [day] for me,” Martinez told the NY Post, “because I want all my life for that moment.”
Although Martinez went 0-3 with a pair of strikeouts against the Nationals, the Mets are confident that his performance this season in Triple-A Buffalo will serve as an indicator of things to come.
In 42 games for the Bisons, Martinez batted .291, led the team with eight home runs and knocked in 28 RBIs.
“To be here, to play in New York, to play for the Mets, to play for the people, that’s great,” Martinez told MLB.com. “That’s unbelievable for me.”
“He’s got a lot to learn,” pitcher Tim Redding told the Post. “But he’s got the skills to be here. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be here.”
“The new kid? He has a lot of bat speed; I noticed that right away,” Gary Sheffield told MLB.com. “He’s got a lot of talent.”
After proving he could adjust to Triple-A pitchers with a .360 batting average through the first 29 games of the season, Austin was promoted to the second spot in the SWB order on Sunday night.
Boasting the fifth best batting average in the International league, Austin says his approach at the plate won’t change with the move.
“I think if I start trying to hit the ball out of the park, I think my strikeouts will go up and I won’t be making as much contact,” Jackson told the Scranton Times.
“I think the thing right now is to just keep trying to get hits.”
Jackson’s Season Stats – Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Triple-A)
AVG – .342; 2B – 5; 3B – 2; HR – 0; RBI – 13; BB – 16; SO – 33; OPS – .841
We highlighted Reimold on May 8. At that time Orioles president of baseball operations, Andy MacPhail, was quoted as saying the following.
“The two main variables are how great our need is and how well he is performing. He’s certainly doing his part.”
MacPhail’s statement wasn’t off the mark. Injuries to both Luke Scott and Adam Jones led to Reimold’s call-up from Triple-A and subsequent start against the Kansas City Royals on Thursday night.
“It’s something you’ve been shooting for your whole life,” Remold told MLB.com. “It’s pretty surreal.”
After receiving work of his promotion from Norfolk manager Gary Allenson on Wednesday, Reimold immediately called who else, but his parents.
Bard’s popularity lies with his electric stuff. His fastball regularly sits in the high 90s range and has even topped three digits.
“I’m obviously excited,” Bard told MLB.com. “It’s something I’ve worked for my whole life, and I couldn’t be happier. Now that I’m here, I’m just trying to help the team win.”
The noise coming out of Beantown isn’t just hype either. Filling the closer role with Pawtucket in 11 games this season, the 23-year-old right hander has allowed just two earned runs and six hits in 16 innings of work.
He hasn’t been scored against since April 25.
“It seems like the right time,” said Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein. “He’s been throwing really well. He made some strides with the last stages of his development in recent weeks, so we felt like the time is right.”
“If he attacks the strike zone, he’s going to have success,” said skipper Terry Francona. “It’s hard to get around it. He’ll give up a hit or a home run every once in a while, but his stuff is too good. He handles the running game. There’s not a lot of moving parts for a young pitcher that throws that hard.”
One step away from making the Pittsburgh Pirates active roster directly from Spring Training, prospect Andrew McCutchen has struggled with inconsistency in Triple-A. McCutchen’s average has dropped to .261 for the season but to a pedestrian .235 in his last 10 games.
His struggles at the plate have been exaggerated with aggressive pitching. When behind in the count, McCutcheon’s average plummets to .133.
McCutchen’s Season Stats – Indianapolis (Triple-A)
AVG – .261; 2B – 5; 3B – 8; HR – 1; RBI – 11; BB – 12; SO – 10; OPS – .790