Orioles Midseason Report





Best Player: The honors keep pouring in for lefthander Zach Britton, and they're not likely to stop until his season ends in September. Britton, 22, was named the Eastern League's pitcher of the week on the same day that the Orioles decided to promote him from Double-A Bowie to Triple-A Norfolk. He was named to the league's all-star team the following day. Not that it mattered in the grand scheme, since he would have been unavailable anyway because he's slated to pitch in the Futures Game. Britton, a 2006 third-round draft pick out of Weatherford (Texas) High, went 7-3, 2.48 with 68 strikeouts in 87 innings at Bowie. He allowed two earned runs or fewer in eight consecutive starts.

Biggest Leap Forward: Second baseman L.J. Hoes is beginning to remind fans why the Orioles selected him in the third round of the 2008 draft. Hoes had a fairly impressive 2009 season at low Class A Delmarva, especially considering his age. As a 19-year-old, he hit .260/.299/.318 with 19 doubles, two homers and 20 stolen bases. Fast-forward to 2010, and you'll find Hoes hitting .289/.402/.394 with 10 doubles, one triple, one home run and 22 RBIs in 39 games at high Class A Frederick. Hoes missed 37 games because of mononucleosis, but went 3-for-5 with two doubles and in his first game back with Frederick.

Biggest Disappointment: Former Orioles manager Dave Trembley raved about pitcher Brandon Erbe in spring training, noting how the righthander had smoothed out his once-violent delivery. Erbe, a third-round pick in 2005, moved up to Norfolk for the first time in his professional career, leaving him on the verge of a promotion to the majors. Now it seems like he's a long way from there.

Erbe, 22, was 0-10, 5.73 in 71 innings before landing on the disabled list with right shoulder soreness. He's young for the International League. Unfortunately, he's also looked overmatched on many occasions. Erbe had surrendered 86 hits, including 11 homers, with 22 walks and 50 strikeouts.

Bird Seed

• Righthander Matt Hobgood, the fifth overall selection in last year's draft, was shut down for a month because of a sore shoulder. He returned July 5. Hobgood was 3-7, 4.41 in 67 innings for Delmarva.

• Lefthander Rick Zagone, a sixth-round pick in 2008 out of Missouri, moved up to Bowie as Britton's replacement. Zagone was 5-6, 3.20 in 79 innings with Frederick.