If I wanted to stretch it, I could have run a George Sisler card today, since one of the greatest hitters of the 1920s plied his trade for the St. Louis Browns team that moved to Charm City in 1954. But this blog ain’t called “Orioles Franchise Card O’ the Day”.
So instead I went with pitcher Brad Bergesen, one of five potential members of this year’s young and hungry O’s squad who will also celebrate the big 2-5 at some point during 2010. The others: pitchers David Hernandez and Troy Patton, and outfielders Adam Jones and Felix Pie. Bergy was far and away the most pleasant surprise to emerge last season, a control pitcher whose lack of a blistering fastball had caused him to be overlooked in favor of flashier prospects like Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman. When Brad followed up his 2008 Jim Palmer Award (given annually to the Orioles’ top minor league pitcher) with a great Spring Training, he bypassed those bigger names to become the first homegrown pitcher to get the callup in ’09. He responded by becoming the club’s most dependable starter and a dark-horse candidate for Rookie of the Year, until a scary-looking line drive from Kansas City’s Billy Butler severely bruised his leg and cost him the last two months of the season. His final numbers were encouraging, though: 7-5 with a 3.43 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP. He was second on the team in wins and first in most of the “rate” stats. On a staff desperate for innings-eaters, he made it through at least the sixth in 15 of his 19 starts, and only once did he pitch less than five and two-thirds (his second-ever major league start, when Texas knocked him out after four). After an odd offseason that saw him tweak his shoulder during a Mid-Atlantic Sports Network commercial shoot, he has bounced back with three solid Spring Training starts to give O’s fans optimism that he will be able to pick up where he left off last July.