The Orioles have been ripped by fans and
the media for their reluctance to use young players from their system. In
the last month, the Orioles have chosen older players with major league
experience over younger, hungrier players developing within the system.
But slowly this may be starting to change with the promotion of lefty Matt
Riley,one of the top pitching prospects at any level in the minors.
He has had his struggles against major league hitters so far,but this
is mostly due to tiredness from the 173 innings thrown between Single-A
Frederick and Double-A Bowie. He had only pitched in 83 innings in is
professional career coming into this season so the Orioles will be careful
with their prize pitcher and have decided against sending him to the
Arizona Fall League
Matt had a great season in 1999, going 3-2 with 2.61 ERA for the
Keys,where he had 58 strikeouts and 14 walks in 52 innings while allowing
just 34 hits. His dominance continued at Bowie were he ranked second in
wins (10) and ERA (3.22) among lefthanders. The 20 year old continued to
put up an impressive strikeout to walk ratio of 131:42 in 126 innings.
This former product of Sacramento City College was recently rated as
the 5th best prospect in the Eastern League for 1999 by "Baseball
America", where the only pitcher ranking ahead of him was Tony Armes,Jr.,
just one spot higher. Riley has the higher ceiling than Armes in my
opinion. Wth his fastball in the '90's and his great curve, there will be
a tough decision on where to place him at the start of next season. Most
likely,he will start the season at Triple-A Rochester, where a permanent
recall to Camden Yards will be very close on the horizon.