Increased Depth Sign of Orioles Improvement

Quality Competition is the lifeblood of a major league baseball organization.

And the Orioles are in the process of a competitive spring training camp for the 2009 season.

After spending the last week with the O's in Florida it's apparent Andy MacPhail's blueprint for making the Orioles more competitive and getting them back into contention in the AL East is living and breathing on the pitcher's mound.

The Orioles have 68 players on their spring training roster, and the talent of the 38 pitchers in camp gives hope that the future (and not too distant future at that) is very bright.

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Seven of the pitching spots are almost certain with veterans Jeremy Guthrie, Koji Uehara, Jamie Walker, Chris Ray, Jim Johnson, Dennis Sarfate, and Jamie Walker.

The next several weeks will determine which, if any, of the talented pitching prospects makes the big league club and injuries to several veterans have created a few possible openings.

Brad Bergesen, last season's minor league pitcher of the year has been so impressive, he has marveled his veteran teammates with his demeanor and mound presence. And of all the prospects in camp, Bergesen might be the closest to making the jump to the big leagues.

Brain Matusz, last years #1 draft pick was so dominant in a three-inning outing against the Florida Marlins, scouts in the stands were wondering if it's possible for a pitcher to go from the draft to the Arizona fall league to the major leagues in one jump. It's unlikely, but it gives us a glimpse of the tremendous upside of Matusz when scouts from other organizations are that impressed with his stuff.

OF-Nolan Reimold and 1B-Brandon Snyder are getting their first taste of a major league spring training. Pitchers Wilfrido Perez, Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta and David Hernandez are gaining valuable experience and have been impressive.

And catcher Matt Wieters is living up to his status as baseball's top prospect, making us all wonder just how soon he'll be behind the plate for the Orioles to stay.

Overall, there are nine of Scouting Director Joe Jordan's draft picks (since his first draft in 2005) in camp.

Spring Training is a time of hope. And the increased talent in the organization is on display under the Florida sunshine--Especially on the pitchers mound.