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Celebrate hyped and overhyped prospects

We're not below cheap promotions here at Connolly's to keep the customers coming in -- hey, we can't expect the Orioles to hammer the Yankees every night. We may soon have a one-month anniversary party to celebrate the fact that the liquor control board and The Sun haven't shut us down yet.

Before the summer is over, I want to host a "Smelt Night" in honor of the greatest promotion in Negro Leagues history. (If you don't get the joke, then you obviously weren't a Saturday Night Live fan during the days of comic genius Christopher Guest. If anyone in here can find a link to Guest's and Billy Crystal's "Rabbit and the King" skit that featured "Smelt Night," please pass it on. You'll be assigned the first gold barstool in Connolly's brief history).

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So get out the party favors and circulate the lampshade. We're having a drink special in honor of Matt Wieters' 22nd birthday today. That's 2-for-1 Natural Lights to acknowledge the Orioles' system's new Natural.

Yesterday our conversation was dedicated to the old Natural, Nick Markakis, and whether the Orioles should sign him to a long-term deal even though he won't be a free agent until 2011. Looks like if you guys were running the Orioles, the Greek God of Line Drives would have been inked to a hefty contract yesterday.

My quick take is that Markakis is the kind of guy the Orioles need to keep around for a while. And they have to make a legitimate push this offseason, which I believe is critical, though neither side will say so. If Markakis goes into the 2009 season without a long-term deal, my guess is he just gambles on his own talent and waits for free agency in two more years. That said, the Orioles need to be sensible, and not give out a bad contract just to appease their anxious fan base.

Markakis is one of the best prospects the Orioles have developed in two decades. But he wasn't the most hyped. He was the seventh pick overall in the 2003 draft, but some thought he should have been a pitcher. His $1.85 million bonus isn't top five in Orioles history (behind Darnell McDonald's and Chris Smith's, among others).

Wieters' $6 million last year makes him the most expensive bonus baby in club history. Does that already make him the most hyped prospect in team history, too?

Pitcher Ben McDonald, a former No. 1 overall, was super-hyped, especially considering he was joining a contender in 1989. But since he was in the majors so quickly, I am not sure his hype compares to Wieters'.

Daily Think Special: Who is the most hyped prospect in Orioles' history? What young player could you not wait to see in an Orioles uniform? And in the spirit of the 2-for-1, in retrospect, who was the most ridiculously overhyped in club history?

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