Could he rapidly climb through the Orioles' minor league system?"No question," Hebner said. "If he pitches well, there's a real good chance he will move quickly."
Matusz is expected to pitch for the Keys in the season opener on the road tonight against the Salem Red Sox. The Orioles' 2008 first-round draft pick will be limited to about 75 pitches, according to Hebner.
While the Orioles reportedly worked with Matusz to rely on certain pitches during spring training, Hebner expects the pitcher to be able to use his full repertoire in the Carolina League.
Hebner, however, believes Matusz should focus on improving his changeup during the 2009 season with the Keys.
"[If] you have a good changeup, then ... you'll get to the big leagues real quick."
• Hebner says it will be a learning process with Billy Rowell in right field. It's important that Rowell learns from his mistakes, according to the Keys manager.
"I think it will take a lot of pressure off Billy," Hebner said. "Being out there is going to be different. I think it's much easier."
The Orioles' first-round draft pick shifts to the outfield in 2009 after playing third base for the Keys last season. Rowell committed 22 errors in 104 games at Frederick in 2008, and he has made 61 defensive miscues in three professional seasons.
• Caleb Joseph, a catcher who the Orioles selected in the seventh round of the 2008 MLB draft, made an impact on Hebner during spring training.
"The catcher, Joseph, was pretty impressive. ... In the last week [of spring training] ... he played well," Hebner said. "We'll see what happens. He's a very mature kid."
• Other than Matusz, Hebner expects third baseman Tyler Henson to step up and become a clubhouse leader for the Keys in 2009.
"I've been around baseball a long time ... he's got a chance to be a good player," Hebner said. "Good power, [and he] goes the other way with two strikes."
• Hebner stressed how important it is for the players to learn to play multiple positions. The Orioles want players who have the ability to play in a couple different places, according to the Keys manager.
Hebner said Henson will likely play a couple games each week at second base, and first baseman Brandon Waring, who was acquired in the offseason trade that sent catcher Ramon Hernandez to the Cincinnati Reds, should see some action at third base.
• Although Hebner likes the compilation of pitchers in Frederick, he's uncertain who will be the team's closer during the 2009 season.