After one month, pitchers set pace

Hitters in '06 draft class haven't caught up



It's a few years too early to render any sort of judgment on the Orioles' 2006 draft. But most of the selections have at least a month as professionals, so they've begun to give samples of what they might offer.

As has been the case for several years in the organization, the arms seem to be ahead of the bats.

That's not to say that top pick Billy Rowell has been a disappointment at Rookie-level Bluefield. The Orioles drafted Rowell, 6 feet 5 and 205 pounds, with visions of a power-hitting infielder dancing in their heads. He hasn't shown that pop yet (Rowell hit his first home run last weekend and his second Saturday), but he has demonstrated excellent plate discipline for a teenager, drawing 16 walks in 29 games.

"He has a very mature approach at the plate," said minor league director David Stockstill.

The club's supplemental first-rounder, Pedro Beato, had a horrid start at short-season Single-A Aberdeen, walking eight and posting an 11.89 ERA in his first 5 1/3 innings. But ever since he moved into the IronBirds' rotation, the 6-foot-5 Beato has thrived. The junior college product was projected as a much higher pick by Baseball America, so his success was hardly unexpected.

He overcame Tommy John surgery as a high school junior, so a few bad weeks in Aberdeen were unlikely to deter him.

"You have to remember, he hadn't pitched in a while," Stockstill said. "He's coming along very nicely now."

Beato reaches the mid-90s with his fastball and has struck out 36 in 37 innings.

Aberdeen rotation mates Jason Berken and Josh Tamba have also thrived. The Orioles took a bit of a risk on Berken after he missed the 2005 season at Clemson after elbow surgery. But he has rewarded their faith with 30 strikeouts and just three walks in 26 2/3 innings.

Berken's 1-4 record doesn't reflect the quality of his outings.

Tamba, a product of Cypress College, is 5-2 with a 2.49 ERA. The club's eighth pick hasn't been as overpowering as Beato or Berken, but the Orioles are pleased with his poise.

The club's third pick, high school infielder Ryan Adams, signed later than most of his draft mates He has a .250 batting average and .360 on-base percentage at Bluefield, and the Orioles believe he could become a good-hitting second baseman.

Fellow high schooler Zach Britton, a hard-throwing left-hander from Texas, is 0-4 with a 5.01 ERA and 15 walks in 23 1/3 innings at Bluefield.

But his 93 mph fastball has produced 22 strikeouts, and Stockstill said he remains impressed with Britton's arm.

Orioles scouting director Joe Jordan said shortstop Blake Davis might immediately be the best defender in the farm system after signing out of Cal-State Fullerton. The club moved Davis right to Single-A Delmarva.

He's hitting .243 with three homers and 15 RBIs. But with 12 errors in 29 games, Davis hasn't been as sound as expected with the glove.

On deck

Bob Dylan will play a show at Frederick's Harry Grove Stadium on Saturday.

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