Former first-round pick Matt Hobgood becoming bullpen force in Frederick

With every new draft class, the Orioles' 2009 first-round pick, Matt Hobgood, moves further from the center of attention. Rotator cuff surgery in 2011 punctuated two seasons of less-than-impressive results, but after returning last year, the 6-foot-4, 245-pound right-hander is establishing himself as a bullpen force for the Class-A Frederick Keys.

Hobgood has allowed three earned runs in 13 2/3 innings over six appearances, with a 1.98 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP.

Hobgood hasn't pitched since April 24, when he allowed three runs — one earned — and four hits in the Keys’ walk-off win over Myrtle Beach. In that outing, Hobgood sat between 94-97 mph and hit 97 mph with his fastball, which on occasion showed late life and exploded on hitters. He flashed a slider that, according to my friend CJ Wittman of Baseball Prospectus, was a plus-plus pitch.

In that outing, Hobgood also had a pair of behemoth matchups with Pelicans slugger Joey Gallo, who entered the game with nine home runs and was swinging like he wanted his 10th against Hobgood. Gallo walked to load the bases in the eighth, but struck out swinging with two on in a tie game in the ninth.

It wasn’t the cleanest outing from Hobgood, but the stuff was there to make him an arm to keep an eye on in the lower minors. At 23, he’s hardly a lost cause. It’s worth noting, however, that if Hobgood’s success continues throughout the season and into Double-A, he could be a candidate to be drafted in the Rule 5 draft if the Orioles don’t add him to the 40-man roster.

Top-heavy rotation

I was in Frederick to see Hobgood that night because he relieved starter Branden Kline, who I wrote up after the start on this internet space.

There’s not much more to say about that, but also of note in Frederick’s rotation is left-hander Matt Taylor, who is 2-1 with a 1.67 ERA in five starts, though he’s walked twice as many batters (16) as he struck out (8).

At the risk of box score scouting — a big no-no in my circles — I’ll leave it at that and report back when I get a look at them.

Local boy making good

Unlike Bowie, where it seems like half the team is batting over .300, Frederick has just two players above that mark: outfielders Glynn Davis (.349/.404/.442 in 21 games) and Lucas Herbst (.306/.333/.417 in 11 games).

Davis, a Baltimore native who played at CCBC-Catonsville, is in his third season in Frederick after signing as an undrafted free agent in 2010.

The lean outfielder has showed doubles power thus far in his career, but not much over-the-fence power. He’s providing a veteran presence for the Keys so far this year.

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