As a Red Sox fan, last year’s version of the Tampa Bay Rays scared me from the start. Young and talented in all aspects of the game, they had the look of a team that could expect to contend in the division for years to come.
I hate to say it, but the Orioles are starting to engender some of the same feelings. They already have an offense filled with up-and-coming stars (Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Nolan Reimold, Matt Weiters) and the pitching staff is also young, with more help on the way.
The team’s top pitching prospect, Chris Tillman, arrived on Wednesday, making his major league debut against Zack Greinke and the Kansas City Royals. The 21-year-old Tillman, Baseball America’s 22nd ranked prospect, arrived from Seattle with Jones and George Sherrill in the Erik Bedard trade in February 2008 and has torn up Baltimore’s farm system ever since: 11-4, 3.18, 154 strikeouts for AA Bowie last year, 8-6 with a 2.70 ERA and 99 strikeouts for AAA Norfolk in 2009.
Tillman didn’t pitch great in his debut, but he kept it close, allowing three runs on seven hits in 4.2 innings. Matt Albers held it there and the offense scored five runs in the seventh and eighth to win 7-3.