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What to make of prospects around the league

DIET STRASBURG
His debut won’t get the same hype as Stephen Strasburg’s, but when Jake Arrieta makes his Major League debut, the Yankees will be seeing the pitcher who is perhaps the next-best prospect at the moment. Take that statement for what it is -- there is a huge gap between Strasburg and the next-best guy, but all that means is that Arrieta is just your standard pitching phenom, someone who in any other year you would be very excited to follow. He throws in the mid-90s, with his best non-fastball offering being a slider. Walks are his Achilles’ heel.

The 6’4" right-hander has dominated the International League, compiling a 1.85 ERA in 73 innings for Norfolk. He’s walked 34 (high) and struck out 64. The Orioles now have three top pitching prospects in their rotation, but it remains to be seen if they and pitching coach Rick Kranitz can get them established in the big leagues. It has been a long, long time since Baltimore has been able to do this; since Mike Mussina, you can credit them with getting Erik Bedard started, and then after that you have to hold your nose and say, "Well… Sidney Ponson had his moments," or "Didn’t Rodrigo Lopez look pretty good at one time?" or "Does Jeremy Guthrie count?" If Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, and now Arrieta can learn to pitch consistently, everything would change for the Orioles -- everything but the appalling hitting -- but as the Rays have shown, you can go far with a top pitching staff and an offense that’s no more than satisfactory.

It isn’t Strasburg, and no doubt the Yankees are grateful for that, but it could be the beginning of a very successful career, if Arrieta’s command cooperates.

MONTERO’S FIVE GEARS IN REVERSE
Jesus Montero in April: .247/.313/.384.
Montero in May: .214/.302/.333
Montero in June (seven games): .130/.231/.130.

The questions that must be asked now are, are we seeing the lingering results of last summer’s hand injury, is he simply pressing as one of the youngest players at Triple-A but is otherwise healthy, and does he need to go back to Double-A to get reoriented? This is an interesting question, as Austin Romine could arguably be promoted based on his hitting work at Double-A. He’s hitting .307/.371/.453 overall, but pay more attention to the road numbers that show what he can do away from the cold Delaware River: .368/.417/.558. Neither receiver is exactly considered to be the next Jim Sundberg when it comes to the defensive side of things, but as long as the Yankees are looking at having a third catcher and an ice-cold spell for Francisco Cervelli (he’s 3-for-June), you might as well have everyone where they can do you the most good -- Romine one level away from the majors to see if he can take his Double-A swing a step closer to the bigs, Montero at Double-A, where perhaps he can sort out what ails him, and Chad Moeller… coaching, eventually.

I KNOW YOU’VE SEEN THIS, BUT…
… It is interesting that CC Sabathia’s ERA is 2.73 against the Orioles (which is what we’d expect) and 4.69 against everyone else. We don’t know if it’s more than a curiosity, but we do know that in his career Sabathia has been a strong second-half pitcher, with a career ERA of 3.90 before the break and 3.32 after, including 2.73 in September. In short, don’t panic yet.

MORE FROM ME
I have a live chat Tuesday at BP, 1 PM EST.

As always, all are welcome, I’ll answer questions about just about anything, and if the boss will be watching you like a hawk, you can always enter the questions ahead of time. I look forward to conversing with you, as always.