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Predict the future -- Kam Mickolio

As several readers mentioned in yesterday’s discussion, they think minor league infielder Greg Miclat could become the long-term replacement for Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts. Other people believe the team should keep Miclat at shortstop for as long as possible, and hope that he’s able to develop into a starter at the position in the majors.

While I agree it’s possible for Miclat to replace Roberts eventually, I wasn’t suggesting with my predictions that is ultimately what should happen. It’s a great idea, in my opinion, to continue using Miclat as a shortstop as he progresses through the minor leagues. It is always possible that he can be switched to second base in the major leagues if he struggles defensively at shortstop, similar to what the Orioles did with Roberts.

Some people discussed Miclat’s shoulder injury that limited him during the 2008 season, but it’s believed that the 5-foot-9, 175-pound infielder is fully recovered and ready to go in 2009.

I wasn’t sure which player to talk about during today’s debate, so I asked my friend Dave, a lifelong Orioles fan, if he had any suggestions. He wants to know what everyone thinks about relief pitcher Kam Mickolio.

The Orioles acquired the 6-foot-9, 255-pound reliever from the Seattle Mariners in the February 2008 trade for left-handed pitcher Erik Bedard. In three minor league seasons, Mickolio is 9-5 with a 3.12 ERA and 10 saves in 98 appearances. So far, he has only allowed six home runs in 144 innings in the minors.

Mickolio made his major league debut for the Orioles on Aug. 20, 2008 against the Boston Red Sox. He allowed one run and three hits in one inning during the game, but he also collected two strikeouts. Overall, Mickolio was 0-1 with a 5.87 ERA in nine games for the Orioles. He had eight strikeouts and four walks in 7 2/3 innings.

Prior to his promotion, Mickolio split the 2008 season between the Double-A Bowie Baysox and the Triple-A Norfolk Tides.

The 24-year-old right-hander was 2-1 with a 4.70 ERA and one save in 28 games for the Baysox. He struck out 40 hitters and issued 22 walks in 38 1/3 innings.

Mickolio pitched much better during his stint with the Tides. He was 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA and two saves in 17 games. The Mariners’ 18th-round selection in the 2006 MLB draft had 23 strikeouts and nine walks in 20 innings for Norfolk.

It’s probably best for Mickolio to begin the upcoming season at Norfolk, in my opinion, because he needs to work on his command. Still, there’s a possibility that Mickolio could make the Opening Day roster if he is able to dominate in spring training.

I think Mickolio will play for the Tides to start the season and be available as one of the first relievers to be promoted when the Orioles need someone. With his size, Mickolio might pitch his way into the closer role for the Orioles in the future. Let’s take it one step at a time, however, and hope he excels in middle relief during the 2009 season.

What are your predictions for Mickolio in 2009? Will he spend most of the season in the minor leagues, or do you think he’s going to have a role for the Orioles? Do you think Mickolio will be a closer in the future, or is he just another middle reliever?

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Check out previous installments of "Predict the future" by clicking on the links below:

Jake Arrieta

Brad Bergesen

Jason Berken

Brandon Erbe

David Hernandez

Brian Matusz

Greg Miclat

Lou Montanez

Troy Patton

Hayden Penn

Bill Rowell

Brandon Snyder

Chris Tillman

Justin Turner

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