The Orioles line up was already a talented one at the start of the season; however, that lineup is looking even better now. No, I am not talking about the addition of all-world prospect Matt Wieters either. While Wieters will to arrive in "birdland" today and capture everyone's attention, there is another talented rookie tearing the cover off the ball in Baltimore.
It's hard not to like the lineup that Andy MacPhail has assembled in Baltimore. He has a solid base of useful veteran players like: Aubrey Huff, Brian Roberts and Melvin Mora. Through trades, the draft and a thrifty extension, he has also built a nucleus of young, team controlled talent like: Nick Markakis, Adam Jones and the aforementioned Wieters. MacPhail definitely has his processes in order. For example, you can't fault him for trying to fill the gap in left field by giving Felix Pie another chance to prove himself especially when the price was Garrett Olson, who despite a shinny 3.66 ERA has a career high 5.96 FIP, which goes along with a career low K/9 and K/BB.
To this point Pie has been a disappointment as he continues to struggle with major league pitching. He's hitting just .195/.271/.310. Right now, he continues to look like nothing more than a 5th outfield type specializing as a defensive replacement. The Orioles tried Lou Montanez in left field; however he wasn't much better than Pie (.204/.273/.347). I really like Montanez as a player, probably more than I should, but his career path has 4th outfielder written all over it instead of starting left fielder. Montanez recently had ligament surgery on his thumb and will probably be out until September.
This brings me to my original thought about the rookie who has been roaming left field for the past few games. Nolan Reimold has showed some serious power in his brief time in the big leagues. A former second round pick in the 2005 draft, Reimold finally reached Triple-A to start 2009. After hitting 25 home runs for Double-A in 2008, he continued to hit at the next level hitting .394/.485/.743 with nine home runs and 11 doubles in 130 plate appearances for Norfolk. In his first 56 PAs as a big leaguer, Reimold has slugged five more home runs proving his power is indeed real, not that there was much question. Since 2006, he has posted an ISO of over .200 at each level of the Orioles organization, and at age 25 he is showing the most power with an ISO of .349 at Triple-A and .302 in the big leagues.
While he probably will not hit for a high average since he has the tendency to swing and miss like most sluggers, Reimold has shown a good eye at the minor league level walking 14.2% of the time in Triple-A and 11.1% in 2008. Along with a good eye comes average speed and average defense. In a very limited sample size, he has a +0.3 UZR in left field and was average to slightly below average defensively in the minors. In other words, he won't kill you out there, but you won't be confusing him for Carl Crawford anytime soon.
Reimold may not have the fanfare as Wieters and that's just fine. But if he continues to hit like he we have seen then, like Wieters, he may be a part of the Orioles lineup for quite some time. At age 25, Riemold isn't getting younger and with Pie's struggles and Montanez's injury this is just the opportunity that he needs to prove he can make it in the big leagues. We'll see if he can make the most of that opportunity or not.