The Newcomers

Orioles

December 13, 2007|By RICH KUBATKO AND JEFF ZREBIEC

Matt Albers

Pitcher

Albers, 24, brings major league experience in the trade, though his numbers aren't worthy of praise. He's 4-13 with a 5.87 ERA in parts of the past two seasons, including 4-11 with a 5.86 ERA in 2007. He allowed 127 hits in 110 2/3 innings, walked 50 and struck out 71. Albers might have better stuff than Troy Patton, but he doesn't command it as efficiently. He brings a fastball that tops out at 96 mph and a plus curveball. He needs a third pitch, however. The Orioles are acquiring potential more than a finished product. A 23rd-round pick in the 2001 draft, Albers went 10-2 with a 2.17 ERA at Double-A Corpus Christi in 2006 and was named the Texas League's Pitcher of the Year. In his first major league win, Albers shut out the St. Louis Cardinals over 7 1/3 innings. "His arm has a long way to go, but he's too good to be included in a big package like this," ESPN.com's Keith Law said. A National League scout noted that Albers has "a pretty good arm but is a so-so guy."

Major league statistics

G IP W L ERA H BB SO WHIP

2007 31 110.2 4 11 5.86 127 50 71 1.60

Career 35 125.2 4 13 5.87 144 57 82 1.60

Mike Costanzo

Third baseman

The reviews are mixed on Costanzo, 24, whose power can't be disputed. A left-handed slugger, he hit 27 homers and drove in 86 runs this year at Double-A Reading, and Baseball America ranked him as the Philadelphia Phillies' sixth-best prospect. But some observers see Costanzo as an all-or-nothing hitter who struck out 157 times in 508 at-bats. He also committed 34 errors this year. But he'll provide an infusion of clout to a farm system that desperately needs it. It's just a question of whether he can hold off Billy Rowell, the Orioles' first-round pick in 2006 who happens to play third base. Costanzo has been traded twice since the season ended, going to Houston in the Brad Lidge deal. "He's got big power," an American League scout said. "He'll swing and miss a little, but he's got great power and a big-time arm." Law said Costanzo projects as a player who has trouble making contact against good stuff.

Minor league statistics

G AB R H HR RBI OBP SLG AVG

2006 135 504 72 130 14 81 .364 .411 .258

2007 137 508 92 137 27 86 .368 .490 .270

Troy Patton

Pitcher

Patton, 22, was regarded as one of the prizes in the Astros' farm system, a star in the making, according to some industry types. A National League scout said he believes Patton is the jewel of this trade. Baseball America ranked him as the organization's No. 3 prospect, and there was a time when the Astros had no interest in trading him. Baseball America also credited Patton, a left-hander, with having the best command in the system. A ninth-round pick in 2004, Patton displayed a mid-90s fastball for one of the best high school teams in Texas and received a $550,000 signing bonus. He posted a 3.55 ERA and held opponents to a .213 average in three appearances, including two starts, for the Astros this season after going 6-6 with a 2.99 ERA in 16 starts at Double-A. "He has a good feel of an arsenal that includes a four-seamer at 88-92 mph, a plus changeup with good arm speed and fading action, and a fringy slider at 80-84 mph that has some tilt but tends to flatten out," Law said. "He projects as a solid No. 4 starter, although he comes open a bit in his delivery and has had minor shoulder problems on and off as a pro."

Major league statistics

G IP W L ERA H BB SO WHIP

2007 3 12.2 0 2 3.55 10 4 8 1.11

Career 3 12.2 0 2 3.55 10 4 8 1.11

Dennis Sarfate

Pitcher

The Milwaukee Brewers converted Sarfate to a reliever a few years ago, and he'll be a project for new Orioles pitching coach Rick Kranitz. Sarfate, 26, brings some serious heat. His fastball touches the upper 90s. Too bad he isn't always sure where it's going. He could be a right-handed "Wild Thing" unless the Orioles figure out how to harness that power. It was encouraging, however, that he walked only one and struck out 14 in 8 1/3 innings with the Astros after they purchased him from the Brewers, who drafted him in the ninth round in 2001. The Texas Rangers took him in the 15th round in 1999, but he didn't sign. Right-handers batted .162 against him in seven games with the Astros, and left-handers hit .182. Sarfate appeared in eight games with the Brewers in 2006. He's probably the fourth-best player in this trade, and he's out of minor league options, but at least the Orioles have something to work with. "He's never had good command," an Orioles official said, "but he has the arm for it."

Major league statistics

G IP W L ERA H BB SO WHIP

2007 7 8.1 1 0 1.08 5 1 14 0.72

Career 15 16.2 1 0 2.70 14 5 25 1.14

Luke Scott

Outfielder

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