July 10, 2009
Seventeen months ago, Erik Bedard(notes) was traded to the Mariners. Two of the players involved in the deal have subsequently been named All-Stars, and neither of them is Bedard himself. George Sherrill(notes) received the honor in 2008 and Adam Jones(notes) was selected in '09.
Another player from the trade -- also not Bedard -- is headed to St. Louis for All-Star festivities this year. Orioles prospect Chris Tillman(notes) is expected to pitch in the Futures Game on Sunday, and he could find his way to the major league roster shortly thereafter. This from the Baltimore Sun:
Tillman is next in line for the big-league rotation and he could be promoted within a month.
"He's really excelled to this point at any level," said Orioles' vice president Andy MacPhail. "I would imagine that if he stays healthy, he'll get his chance at this level."
Rich Hill(notes) has been mauled in each of his last three starts and the O's are skipping his turn in the rotation. Hill has met the fork, and it has stuck. If you need a six-run, four-walk stat line, he's your guy. If instead you need Ks, and you can carry a high-upside fantasy spot-starter, give the five percent-owned Tillman a test drive. The 21-year-old currently has a 2.50 ERA at Triple-A Norfolk with 88 Ks and 22 walks in 86.1 innings. He hasn't allowed a run in either of his last two starts.
Baltimore has a messy schedule immediately following the break (at CWS, at NYY, at BOS), but if Tillman debuts at home against the Royals in the July 27-30 series, he'll be start-worthy. You'll want to deal him or shelve him prior to September, though. The Orioles' end-of-season schedule is brutal. Every team they'll face in September is currently among baseball's 10 highest-scoring lineups. Still, Tillman should have short-term value whenever he's called up, and he's a must-own dynasty league starter.
For those who demand more prospect hype: Check out Bill Root's futures column. Also visit Baseball America's midseason top 25, where Brian Matusz(notes) ranks just behind Tillman. He's a year older and pitching a level lower, but Matusz is left-handed and the strikeout-rate works (10.94 K/9 in four starts at Double-A).
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