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Double-A Transition Monitor

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Justin Orenduff pitching for Team USA

*Justin Orenduff, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Since being promoted to Double-A Jacksonville a few weeks ago, Orenduff is 4-1, 4.18 in 6 starts, with a 36/13 K/BB ratio in 32 innings, 26 hits allowed. His K/IP, K/BB, and H/IP ratios are all solid, and he's given up only 1 home run. Although his K/IP and H/IP ratios are not as impressive as they were at Class AVero Beach before his promotion, they are still good and very credible at this level for a guy one year out of college. Orenduff was a supplemental first-round pick in '04 out of Virginia Commonwealth. He doesn't throw quite as hard as Chad Billingsley, projecting more as a third or fourth starter rather than an ace. But his Double-A transition has been successful thus far, and I am optimistic about his chances to be a useful pitcher. The main flaw in his game last year was over reliance on his curveball, to the exclusion of his power sinker, but that has been less of an issue this year.

Mitch Maier catching for the University of Toledo

*Mitch Maier, OF, Kansas City Royals
Since being promoted to Double-A in early June, Mitch Maier is hitting just .239/.272/.415. He does lead the minor leagues with 41 doubles, 15 of them for Wichita. But the good plate discipline that he showed in college seems to have vanished: he's drawn just 20 walks this year. The good news for Maier is that he has a position now. He was a catcher in college, but didn't throw well enough to maintain the position as a pro. He tried third base last year, but is now in the outfield, and has adapted well enough to play center field on occasion. His arm is mediocre, but he runs very well for a former catcher and has enough range to handle center. But if he doesn't hit better than this, that won't matter. He was hitting .336/.370/.583 at High Desert before his promotion. But that was High Desert. Everyone hits there, and his weak plate discipline (12 walks, 43 strikeouts in 211 at-bats) was a better indicator of how he would do in Double-A than the raw stats. When I saw him play for Wichita this past weekend, it looked like he was trying to pull everything for power, and this wasn't working well. It's not too late for him, but he has to return to what worked for him in college if he wants to play regularly, even for a weak team like Kansas City.