A scout's take

On Josh Johnson, 22-year-old right-hander for the Florida Marlins

Pitches -- His fastball is in the 90-94 [mph] range but mostly at 92 and 93, a plus-fastball with real good life. He has a good breaking ball and a real good changeup. He throws them all for strikes. He has plus arm strength and is a very polished pitcher for a kid with his experience level.


Attitude -- His mound presence is real good. He has an intensity, a way about him that's very impressive. Very aggressive. He's the anchor of that staff after [Dontrelle] Willis and he has a better arm than Willis right now.

Future -- People don't realize how great of a season he's having because there's not a lot [of attention] around the Marlins. But he's the best arm of that group. Talk about a guy under the radar. An awful lot of people didn't know anything about him. But it doesn't take long to understand why this guy is a standout.


Note -- "A scout's take" features one major league scout's opinion on a particular player each week. A revolving roundtable of scouts is used. Because of potential tampering, the scouts are anonymous.

Say what?

"I feel like I am home again."

Oakland Athletics designated hitter Frank Thomas, who last week set a personal and team record by homering in six consecutive games. Thomas, a two-time Most Valuable Player, was limited to 108 games the past two seasons because of injuries. This year, he had 36 homers in his first 122 games and has entered the American League MVP discussion.

Numbing number


That's the longest stretch of consecutive sub-.500 years the Orioles endured in their first 44 seasons, from 1954 to 1997. It happened twice: in the club's first three years of existence, 1954 to 1956, and from 1986 to 1988. This week, the Orioles clinched their unprecedented ninth straight losing season.

What's up?


The Chicago White Sox host the Detroit Tigers for three starting tomorrow in what will likely affect the American League Central and wild-card races. Also, the Los Angeles Angels head to Oakland for a crucial three-game series in the AL West starting Friday. Orioles fans get a one-game makeup look at the Tigers (Thursday) and say goodbye to the 2006 Orioles with a three-game weekend homestand against the Minnesota Twins. In the National League's best matchup, the Marlins will be in Philadelphia for three games starting Wednesday.