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What a Week: Berken and Hernandez Debut

The future of Orioles baseball has arrived in Baltimore. Tuesday night I had the pleasure of being a guest of Peter Angelos in the owner’s box to see the debut of Orioles rookie Jason Berken. Unfortunately, Angelos was not actually there. While at the game I got the best news of the season: Matt Wieters will be called up to Baltimore for Friday night’s game.

To add to that excitement, though we lost pitcher Koji Uehara to the disabled list, we now get the opportunity to see another Orioles rookie prospect in right-hander David Hernandez make is debut. Hernandez is a flame-thrower that can use either his fastball or power slider as his out-pitch. Hernandez has an incredible 60 strikeouts in only 43.1 innings this year and has improved his command tremendously, only walking 13. Prior to his call-up Hernandez is 3-1 with a 2.91 ERA. Hernandez has started his whole career but because he has no above-average third pitch he may profile as more of a power reliever with some definite closer potential. Hernandez goes up against a first-place Tigers team that has a formidable line-up. It’s sure to be an exciting night.

But back to Berken. Watching Berken was tough in the first couple innings but he showed great poise in minimizing the damage. Berken gave up one run in each the first and second innings and then tossed three shutout innings. In the first two innings it seemed like Berken was trying a bit too hard and his fastball and slider were too high in the zone to be effective. On top of his fastball being high, his change-up, which is considered an above-average pitch, was being thrown too fast. But after slowing it down in the third, fourth and fifth Berken calmed down and earned his first career victory after Adam Jones put the Orioles up in the bottom of the fifth with a two-run homer.

Berken was a sixth-round pick out of Clemson in the 2006 draft that moved through the system quickly and earn what could possibly be a spot start, but due to injuries will probably be an extended tryout with the big club.

Stay tuned for a report on David Hernandez’ first MLB start in the next couple days, and get ready for the Wieters era in Baltimore.

In other news, rookie Nolan Reimold has two home runs in his last two games including a walk-off three-run homer yesterday afternoon to bring his season total to four.

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