Just in time to temper your enthusiasm for the O’s latest crop of pitching prospects it was announced this week that former Orioles Matt Riley and Sidney Ponson will be pitching in the Atlantic League this season. Oh how the mighty have fallen. Riley, who in 1999 was the best O’s pitching prospect since Ben McDonald, will pitch for the York Revolution. Riley was rushed to the Big leagues as a 19 year old, blew out his arm and was never the same. He’s now 30 and still trying to establish himself in the majors.
We all know the Ponson story. Sir Sid’s problems were for the most part self inflicted. He was also rushed to the Majors as a 21 year old in 1998, and despite a 12 year career never fulfilled the club’s expectations. This season he’ll toil for the Long Island Ducks.
I’ll root for Riley to stay healthy and for Sidney to stay out of any Aruban prisons. Their stories should serve as cautionary tales for the Orioles and fans alike. The names Matusz, Tillman, Arrieta and Bergeson have stoked the fan base for the first time in years; but as the old adage goes, “There’s no such thing as a pitching prospect”. Andy MacPhail’s philosophy of stockpiling young arms is the right approach. If one of the 4 names mentioned above develops into a staff ace the Orioles and their fans should consider themselves blessed. Let’s just hope Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman aren’t pitching for the Lancaster Barnstormers in 2020.