ROCHESTER NEW YORK — O'Donoghye emerges, may make it to majors
ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Two years ago, no one in baseball thought John O'Donoghue could pitch well enough to warrant a team spending a spot in the draft on him.
Now, there's talk about him pitching in the majors.
"With the state of left-handed pitching, unless he levels off, he'll be in the big leagues," said Rochester Red Wings pitching coach Steve Luebber.
O'Donoghue, 23, and in his third professional season, throws four pitches, and he knows enough to mix them up.
"He has a quality breaking pitch," Luebber said. "He has some bite on his slider. His fastball has some movement. He has a changeup."
But just a couple of years ago, no one thought O'Donoghue had much of a future. That he eventually signed a pro contract may be a testament to the power of the press.
O'Donoghue, who pitched in the 1990 College World Series for Louisiana State University, hadn't been drafted that June, and when reporters asked him about that, he told them he felt he'd been slighted.
"I had pitched a lot of games for a nationally ranked team," O'Donoghue said. "I made it known in Omaha that I wanted to play pro ball."
After the CWS, O'Donoghue said he received a few phone calls, including one from the Orioles. He wanted to play so much that he was willing to interrupt his work toward a degree in broadcast journalism with three semesters left to begin his baseball career.
The Orioles signed O'Donoghue and sent him to Bluefield, where he went 4-2 with a 2.01 ERA in 10 games.
Last season at Frederick, with his father as his pitching coach, O'Donoghue compiled a 7-8 record and 2.90 ERA. He was 7-4 with a 2.24 ERA at Hagerstown before his promotion to Rochester, where he is 4-2 with a 2.97 ERA.
O'Donoghue may be the only one not surprised by his rapid ascent. "Not to sound arrogant, but I've worked hard," he said. "I don't just go out and throw on my game days."
O'Donoghue pays as much attention to his running and weight training as he does to his work on the side.
As he goes through the International League a second time, O'Donoghue said he'll have to work harder to get hitters out again.
"From this point on in his career, it's not him learning pitches but learning hitters," Luebber said.
"The tough part is coming up," O'Donoghue said.
* Even though the arrival of second baseman Steve Scarsone will move Ricky Gutierrez back to shortstop, Red Wings manager Jerry Narron said it didn't mean the Orioles' plan to turn Gutierrez into a second baseman had ended.
But asked if Scarsone, acquired Tuesday in a trade with the Phillies for Juan Bell, was the every-day second baseman, Narron only said that the former Triple-A all-star would regularly play the position.
Gutierrez, 22, moved to second base this season. He had committed three of his 13 errors at second.
Gutierrez's move back to shortstop has cut into playing time for Bobby Dickerson.
Scarsone, 26, was in his first full Triple-A season. He had batted .274
for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season, and his 3-for-4 performance in the All-Star Game earned him most valuable player honors.
* Right-hander Tim Layana, who has not been successful this season, is trying the Dennis Eckersley style of pitching. Layana has dropped to a sidearm delivery. He extends his arms from his body on his delivery and looks as if he's picking the ball up off the toe of his left foot.
"I'll try anything," said Layana, who has lost his past three decisions and has a 6.16 ERA for the season. Layana pitched a scoreless inning in the debut of his new motion, but said he was nervous about using it in a game for the first time.
* MISCELLANEOUS: Damon Buford stole 10 bases before being caught for the first time. . . . Bob Milacki improved to 5-0 by allowing one run in eight innings against Richmond on Monday. The victory marked the second time in his six starts that he didn't give up a home run. . . . Mark Williamson pitched his second scoreless inning, and recorded the save, in a 4-3 victory over Columbus on Wednesday. . . . With Ed Yacopino in left field because Buford is playing center, Jack Voigt has played five games at first base since rejoining the Red Wings on Aug. 6. That has forced Narron to use Doug Jennings as the designated hitter against right-handers, knocking Mel Wearing out of the spot.
By: Patti Singer
Hoiles hitting well
HAGERSTOWN -- Chris Hoiles has made great strides in his rehabilitation assignment with the Suns, going 6-for-11 against Double-A pitching in three games last week.
Hoiles was used as a DH the first two games and caught four rTC innings Thursday night in a 3-2 loss to the New Britain Red Sox. In his first game since being drilled by a Tim Leary pitch and breaking his wrist, Hoiles was 3-for-4 and scored three runs.