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Top Prospect Alert

Matt Riley -- By Robert Sherry

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.


 

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