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06/25/09 12:36 PM ET

Tillman, Matusz headed to Futures Game

Young hurlers close to breaking into the big leagues

MIAMI -- The future is here. Two of Baltimore's best prospects will have a large stage on which to stand in the Futures Game, an annual companion to the All-Star Game that features some of the best Minor League talent.

The Orioles will send top arms Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz to the midseason showcase. Both are part of Baltimore's ultimate goal of building inventory in the Minor Leagues, and both are close to breaking the big league barrier.

The 11th annual XM All-Star Futures Game, pitting the best Minor League prospects from the U.S. against the best from the rest of the world, will be held at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on All-Star Sunday, July 12, at 2 p.m. ET. MLB.com will provide complete coverage before, during and after the game, which can be seen live on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD and followed live on Gameday.

Chris Tillman, RHP, Triple-A Norfolk (U.S. Team)
Tillman, a second-round Draft pick in 2006, has been among the youngest competitors in virtually every professional league he's entered. He was drafted by the Mariners and came to the Orioles before the 2008 season as part of the five-player bounty netted for southpaw starter Erik Bedard.

The youngster's first season with a Baltimore affiliate was a rousing success, as he posted an 11-4 record and a 3.18 ERA for Double-A Bowie. He finished fifth in ERA and second in strikeouts (154) despite being just 20 years old. This year he has provided a fitting encore, with a 5-4 record and a 2.54 ERA for Norfolk.

Tillman has struck out 70 against just 18 walks this season, and he may well be the next Baltimore callup. The Orioles have had four rookies win their big league debuts this season, a first in modern Major League history.

Brian Matusz, LHP, Double-A Bowie (U.S. Team)
Matusz, the fourth overall selection in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, signed late and didn't get to participate in a full-season league last year. The Orioles started him at Class A Frederick this year, and he responded by dominating his competition to the tune of a 4-2 record and 2.16 ERA through 11 starts.

The Orioles responded by pushing him to Bowie, and he struck out 10 batters in his debut at that level. The southpaw is regarded as one of the most polished pitching prospects in the Minors, and he could well make his debut early next season. For now the Orioles want to be careful with his progression.

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.