Future is now for Tillman

tillman.jpg

With
everyone fussing over Roy Halladay rumors last week, another towering
right-hander seemingly got lost in the limelight: Chris Tillman, the 6-foot-5 Orioles
righty who was acquired with Adam Jones from Seattle in the Erik Bedard trade.
Not only does he rank among the top young arms in Baltimore, but in all of
baseball, too. 

 

Granted,
you wouldn’t know that judging from how he fared during his first couple of big
league outings, in which he surrendered a total of eight runs. On the bright
side, his 6.75 ERA could wind up scaring off potential buyers or leave current
owners disappointed enough to dump him already.

 

Either
way, all signs point toward Tillman making a splash down the stretch, and for
two reasons:

 

1)
Tillman has the stuff that power pitchers are made of, featuring a mid-90s
heater, an above-average curve and a splitter, changeup and slider. That’s five
offerings. 

 

2) What
really separates Tillman from the pack isn’t power, but polish. Contrary to
popular belief, the majority of young guns do not hit the ground running in The
Show. They get broken in, go through their fair share of growing pains, and
hopefully make it out in one piece.

 

From a
statistical standpoint, there are three major benchmarks each Minor League pitcher should reach before warranting consideration in standard mixed-league play:

1)      Pitched
at least one half season at Triple-A

2)      Struck
out more than one batter per inning there

3)      Compiled
at least 2.5 times more strikeouts than walks

 

Those are
a narrow set of requirements, yes, but Tillman fits the bill. For Triple-A
Norfolk this season, he boasted a 99/26 K/BB ratio over 96 2/3 innings. The one
other minor thing to look out for is homers. Tillman has already served up four
of ’em in 10 2/3 innings, but history suggests it might just be nerves getting
the better of him.

 

After
all, only five balls left the yard with Tillman toeing the rubber for Norfolk
this year.

 

With
everything working in the right-hander’s favor, you have to wonder whether it
will be him — and not fellow O’s youngster Brian Matusz — emerging as
Baltimore’s next big ace.

 

 

–Alex Cushing, MLB.com

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