O's arm themselves for future

New 40-man roster boosts young pitchers, shortstop Rogers, too

Promotions aimed at 2003

McDonald, Reed among young bats exposed to draft


Minus four members of last seasonM-vs team and $4 million in severance, the Orioles yesterday completed the grinding task of constructing their 40-man roster. This time they added rather than deleted by promoting four valued pitchers and their most prized position prospect.

Pitchers Steve Bechler, Erik Bedard, Mike Paradis and John Stephens plus 20-year-old shortstop Ed Rogers joined the major-league roster for the first time, leaving the Orioles with 22 pitchers, three catchers and 15 other position players on a list submitted yesterday to the commissioner's office.

The process, complicated by the activation of injured outfielder Albert Belle (for insurance payment reasons) and rehabilitating starting pitcher Pat Hentgen, cost the Orioles three-time All-Star outfielder Brady Anderson, relievers Chad Paronto and Ryan Kohlmeier and probably utility player Mike Kinkade.

The Orioles released Anderson last Friday even though he has one season and $4 million remaining on the five-year, $31 million contract he signed as a free agent in December 1997.As presently constituted, the Orioles' major-league roster includes 23 of 40 names present at the outset of last spring training. Four of the holdovers M-y Belle, right-handed pitchers Scott Erickson and Luis Rivera and left-hander Matt Riley M-y did not play in 2001.

Yesterday's promotions have little to do with the Orioles' makeup for next season but suggest where the organization's hope lies for 2003 and beyond.

Rogers, considered by many the club's most promising position prospect last spring, was given a shot by some within the organization of reaching Baltimore before his 20th birthday. Instead, Rogers struggled at Double-A Bowie (.199) before returning to Single-A Frederick, where he hit .260.

Bechler, 22, climbed from Frederick to Triple-A Rochester last season, going 9-7 in 26 combined starts. A left-hander, Bedard, also 22, was 9-2 with a 2.15 ERA before being sidelined after 17 starts at Frederick. Paradis, 23, became the Orioles' first pick and the 13th overall selection of the 1999 draft and constructed an 8-13 record and 4.71 ERA at Bowie last season. His first professional season was limited to two starts after he hyperextended his right elbow in his second appearance.

Stephens, 22, is an Australian who signed with the Orioles at 16 and has since produced dazzling strikeout-walk ratios at every stop. After spending three seasons at Single-A, Stephens split last season between Bowie and Rochester, going 13-9 with 191 strikeouts vs. 40 walks in 190 innings.

Almost as notable as those added are some of the missing.

The Orioles did not promote former first-round draft pick Darnell McDonald, who in 1997 signed for a then-franchise record $1.95 million bonus. Considered the most gifted high school player of the draft, McDonald has been passed by Tim Raines Jr. and Keith Reed as the Orioles' leading outfield prospects.

McDonald, 23, played 104 games at Rochester last season but has yet to show either the power or base-stealing ability the club anticipated when it induced him to walk away from a football scholarship at Texas.

However, the Orioles also left Reed off the major-league roster. The team's first-round selection in the 1999 draft, Reed was named the organization's top prospect by Baseball America in 2000. He split last season among Frederick, Bowie and Rochester but was hindered by a hand injury and played only 110 games.

Outfielder Ntema Ndungidi, a former sandwich pick, also was exposed to next month's major-league draft. The 36th overall selection of the 1997 draft languished at Bowie last season (.212) after confronting medical problems the previous winter.

With several exceptions, any player with three years' professional experience who is left off the 40-man roster is subject to being drafted by another club during the major-league draft.

The drafting team must pay $50,000 for the player and guarantee him a spot on its major-league club the next season.

The Orioles announced yesterday that Andy Etchebarren will return for a second season as manager of Rochester while Dave Cash, last season's manager at Single-A Frederick, will move to Double-A Bowie. He replaces Dave Machemer, who was dismissed after the season.

The Orioles have promoted Jack Voigt from field coach to manager at Frederick; it will be the former Oriole's first stint as a manager. Joe Ferguson returns for a third year as manager at Single-A Delmarva.

Former Orioles pitcher and Cincinnati Reds pitching coach Grant Jackson will take over as the Red Wings' pitching coach as Larry McCall was reassigned as Florida pitching coordinator.

Jackson served as Reds pitching coach in 1994-95 and had spent the past nine seasons within the Reds'organization.

The Orioles also confirmed their 2-month-old decision to promote Dave Schmidt to minor league itching coordinator, replacing Bo McLaughlin.

After allowing the position of minor league field coordinator to remain vacant last season, the Orioles yesterday named Dave Stockstill to the post. Stockstill has worked within player development since 1994, the last three as organizational hitting instructor.

There remains unfinished business within the front office. Bob Schaefer, one of vice president for baseball operations Syd Thrift's four special assistants, accepted a position as Kansas City Royals bench coach earlier this month.

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