Matusz gets first taste of camp
O's 2008 first-round Draft pick looking to learn, gain experience
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Brian Matusz got to make his first Major League impression on Sunday, when he dressed out in Orioles gear and took the field for the first workout of the spring. Matusz, the fourth overall pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, said it felt a little strange to share a clubhouse with so many experienced players.
"It's pretty overwhelming," Matusz said. "I don't really know what's going on yet, but I'm kind of excited to figure out the schedule, meet people and get settled in. Right now, it's pretty exciting. I'm just trying to take everything in, meet as many people as I can and have fun with it."
That wisdom may come in the form of trade secrets or simple logistics, and Matusz is a blank slate who will take any advantage he can get. The southpaw has yet to pitch in a full-season professional league, and the Orioles have vowed to be careful with their young arms, promoting them only after they've mastered each progressive level.
"For a guy like myself, who is only 22 years old [in] my first Spring Training, to have a veteran -- a No. 1 starter on the staff -- to kind of take me under his wing is pretty exciting," said Matusz. "It shows a lot about Jeremy as a guy as well as a player. To not be the other way around -- where everybody is kind of looking down on me -- it's nice."
In fact, it's just the opposite. Despite Baltimore's prudent promotion policy, Matusz has been labeled as a potential fast-riser who could start at Class A Frederick and spend most of the year at Double-A Bowie. When asked for his first impression of Matusz, manager Dave Trembley responded with a laundry list of positive qualities.
"Intelligent. I think he's very calm," Trembley said. "I don't think he's awestruck at all. I think there's a lot of kid in him. He worked out all winter at that [Athletes Performance Institute] with [Brian] Roberts and [Adam] Jones and those guys, and he said it was really neat to be around so many big league players. I watched him throw today. He's special."
Matusz, along with Chris Tillman and Jake Arrieta, represents the next wave of arms that are expected to transform Baltimore's starting rotation. And along with fellow first-round Draft pick Matt Wieters, Matusz embodies the rapid turnaround of the Orioles' farm system that now boasts some of the most highly touted prospects in baseball.
"He was my catcher in the Arizona Fall League, so I had a lot of time with him," Matusz said of Wieters, Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year. "He's an awesome guy, a great catcher. You can't beat throwing to a guy that size. He really makes it seem like you're throwing 50 feet rather than 60 feet. ... I'm really looking forward to that."
Matusz also said that he's not particularly concerned about how much time he'll spend in big league camp or where he'll start the season, preferring instead to let the organization handle the important decisions. Trembley, in turn, said that Matusz will likely be around for a while and will get to experience plenty of Grapferuit League action.
"Our goal is to get those young guys in games as soon as we possibly can," Trembley said. "I'd like to give them an opportunity. ... We'll do our darnedest to make sure those young guys get an opportunity early in camp."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.