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Predict the future -- Nolan Reimold

Judging by the input from readers about relief pitcher Wilfrido Perez, it seems like he has gained the attention of a lot of people during his four seasons in the Orioles' minor league system.

Mostly everyone agreed that Perez seems to be a logical choice for a left-handed specialist in the future, and some people believe he could be ready for the major leagues by the end of the upcoming season.

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I'd like to see how the 24-year-old reliever performs in spring training and during the beginning of the 2009 season before penciling him into the major leagues, but he's definitely earned some respect with his impressive statistics so far in his career.

When thinking about which player we could talk about during today's discussion, I realized that I have completely overlooked Orioles prospect Nolan Reimold to this point in the "Predict the future" series.

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I couldn't help but realize the irony because the Orioles have seemingly done the same thing to the 25-year-old outfielder on a couple different occasions in his brief career.

When they needed to bring up an outfielder last season, the Orioles promoted Lou Montanez and left Reimold with the Double-A Bowie Baysox. I know Montanez was on his way to winning the Triple Crown in the Eastern League, but Reimold is regarded as a higher prospect and he was quietly putting together his best professional season.

Reimold, who the Orioles selected in the second round of the 2005 MLB draft, hit .284 with 25 home runs and 84 RBIs last season for Bowie. He was tied for second in the league in home runs, second in runs scored (87), fifth in RBIs and tied for sixth in hits (144). Reimold had 82 strikeouts and 63 walks in 139 games for the Baysox.

When it looked like the 6-foot-4, 207-pound outfielder might get an opportunity to compete for a position in the major leagues in 2009, the Orioles traded for Felix Pie from the Chicago Cubs. It looks like Pie will be given a chance to become the starting left fielder for the Orioles, and Reimold seems destined to start the season with the Triple-A Norfolk Tides.

Although Reimold has solid minor league statistics, he's struggled to stay healthy on a consistent basis. Foot, back and oblique injuries have bothered Reimold during his time in the Orioles' minor league system, but he enjoyed a relatively pain-free season in 2008.

In four seasons in the organization, Reimold is batting .278 with 70 home runs and 242 RBIs. He hit .306 with 11 home runs and 34 RBIs in 50 games for the Baysox during the 2007 season, despite being limited because of an oblique injury. Reimold had 19 home runs in 2006 with the Single-A Frederick Keys, and he hit 15 home runs during the 2005 season while splitting time between the Keys and short-season Single-A Aberdeen IronBirds.

It looks like Reimold will begin the 2009 season with the Tides, but I don't think he is destined to stay in Norfolk for the entire year. If Pie struggles in the major leagues and Reimold starts strong, the Orioles might consider a change.

Still, Montanez likely remains ahead of him in the list of promotions, so you might not see Reimold in the major leagues until 2010 at the earliest.

I expect Reimold to hit around .290 with 15-20 home runs and 80-90 RBIs for the Tides. He'll also show good plate discipline and be among the leaders in the International League in walks. Finally, and perhaps the most important prediction, Reimold will remain healthy and prove to the Orioles that he's ready to earn a role in the major leagues.

What does everyone think about Reimold? Instead of acquiring Pie, should the Orioles have given Reimold a chance to earn the starting position in left field?

Do you think there's a possibility that he might perform well enough in spring training to force the Orioles to keep him in the major leagues? Will he be promoted in the middle of the season?

I know there are a lot of strong opinions about Reimold, so let's hear them.

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

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