When I talked with Orioles manager Dave Trembley the other day, one thing was certainly evident. He's certainly excited about being in Sarasota. Trembley talked about how the atmosphere was "just outstanding," and how much more room everyone has now that they are away from Ft. Lauderdale's antiquated and claustrophobic facility.
He mentioned the fact he could now focus more on fundamentals by having players go over things on real diamonds, not a few bases thrown into an outfield and how left-handed batters could take extra BP off of left-handed pitchers on a field and not in a cage.
Trembley also had quick praise for Kam Mickolio and Matt Wieters, who both slimmed down a bit and he thought Jake Arrieta looked like he was in fantastic shape. Nick Markakis was noted as looking a lot stronger which means reports of him putting on some extra muscle has been noticed by the skipper.
You want some veteran leadership? Well, the two new guys have jumped right in with Miguel Tejada jumping in line first in every drill line while Kevin Millwood has been spotted eating breakfast and lunch with Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman and Brad Bergesen. Oh, and it was not by mistake that his locker sits right in the middle of those guys as well.
So what minor leaguers have made an early impression?
The first name Trembley mentioned was right-hander Brandon Erbe who has just been opening eyes since the instructional league this fall. Erbe has really smoothed out his delivery and with improvements to his slider and changeup, he might be ready to make the jump into the elite pitching prospect status.
Trembley also noted that third base prospect Josh Bell "goes about his business" in a professional manner and that the ball just jumps off his bat, especially from the left-side of the plate.
I know some will be surprised, but the second guy Trembley actually mentioned as making an impression on him was shortstop Pedro Florimon.
"He can really go get the ball at shortstop," the skipper said.
Florimon is ticketed for Bowie this year but if he can have a similar season with the bat as last year in Frederick, he could be in the picture for a job with the Orioles by 2011. His bat will decide whether that's as a regular or as a utility guy.
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Tony has owned and operated Orioles Hangout since 1996 and is well known for his knowledge of the Baltimore Orioles organization from top to bottom. He's a frequent guest on Baltimore-area sports radio stations and can be heard regularly on the 105.7 FM The Fan. His knowledge and contacts within the Orioles minor league system and the major league baseball scouting industry is unparalleled in the Baltimore media and is known as an expert on the Orioles prospects.