Baltimore Orioles Top 10 Prospects
By Will Lingo
1. Richard Stahl, lhp
Age: 20. B-T: R-L. Ht.: 6-7. Wt.: 185. Drafted: HSCovington, Ga., 1999 (1st round). Signed by:Lamar North.
Background:Stahl was part of the Orioles 1999 draft class, which included seven first-round picks. He got the largest bonus of the bunch, $1.795 million, enough to pry him away from Georgia Tech on the day he was to begin classes there. He signed too late to pitch in 1999 and threw just 89 innings in 2000 because of back trouble. He started strong in 2001, earning a promotion from low Class A Delmarva to high Class A Frederick after just six starts. He looked even better there, but shoulder trouble sidelined him again after six. He was picked for the Futures Game but didnt pitch because of the injury, and he made just one rehab appearance in July before getting shut down for the rest of the season. Doctors performed arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone spur but otherwise found no structural problems.
Strengths:Quite simply, no one else in the organization has a ceiling that matches Stahls. He has all the attributes to become a No. 1 starter, including a mid-90s fastball that could improve as he fills out his 6-foot-7 frame and gets consistent with his mechanics. He has a smooth, easy delivery that should keep his arm healthy once he fully matures. He has the makings of a plus curveball and made progress with it last year, though it remains inconsistent. His changeup is average but also has potential. A basketball player in high school, hes a good athlete.
Weaknesses:The Orioles say Stahls injuries have been the function of a growing body, not any chronic problems, but he still needs to prove he can stand up to the workload of a full season. Whats more, he needs the innings to refine his secondary pitches and command, and to learn more about how to attack hitters. As with most tall pitchers, he also needs to find consistent mechanics, which should solve many of his other weaknesses.
The Future:With plenty of time to recover from his shoulder ailment, Stahl should be sound and ready to move in 2002. Hell probably return to Frederick to start the season, but a strong spring or fast start in the regular season could get him to Double-A Bowie quickly.
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