Even though the O’s are likely headed towards another 90ish-loss season, there have been some encouraging signs coming from Sarasota.
We should start over the weekend with Brian Matusz who threw four shutout innings against the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday. I was critical of Matusz’s spring debut in which he struggled with his velocity and got hit around over two innings.
But he bounced back against Philadelphia and the velocity returned. Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com says that Matusz was clocked in the 90-91 range the first two innings and hit 94-95 over the last two innings. He struck out four including slugger Jim Thome and Hunter Pence back-to-back in the fourth inning. Matusz turned some heads on Saturday and was the talk of O’s camp. It was a pleasant surprise.
The next day, 23-year-old righty Chris Tillman impressed skipper Buck Showalter and the Orioles with his three scoreless inning performance against the Boston Red Sox. Ghiroli reports that Tillman is “in noticeably better shape” and much stronger than last season. Like Matusz, Tillman struggled with his velocity last season, throwing in the 88-90 MPH range. On Sunday he hit 95.
The Orioles made their first round of roster cuts on Sunday and among those reassigned to Minor League Camp was 19-year-old pitching prospect Dylan Bundy. Buck Showalter was impressed with his exit conversation with the prospect and is eager to watch him every fifth day in Delmarva.