Movin' On Up: Matusz debuts with win
Orioles left-hander shows poise in five solid innings vs. Detroit
The ultimate goal for every Minor Leaguer is to reach the Major Leagues. Every week, Movin' On Up will take a look at prospects who have reached that goal and made their big league debut.
The future has arrived for Orioles fans -- again.
Over the past month or so, the organization has flashed a glimpse of a potentially dominant future rotation, as touted prospects Chris Tillman and Jason Berken have broken into the big leagues.
On Tuesday night, another name joined that list when Brian Matusz made his Major League debut, earning an 8-2 victory over Detroit. In only his second professional season, the 22-year-old left-hander impressed in his opening big-league act, allowing one run on six hits in five innings of work.
Matusz' victory made him the fifth Baltimore pitcher to earn a win in his MLB debut this season, the most for any club dating back to 1900.
The fourth overall pick in the 2008 Draft, Matusz flew through Class A and Double-A this season, mowing down hitter after hitter in his path. In eight starts for Bowie, Matusz limited opponents to a .189 average while recording 46 strikeouts in 46 1/3 innings. His stellar performance in the Minors, combined with some injuries at the big league level, forced the Orioles to make room for him earlier than expected.
It didn't go unnoticed that Matusz' first start came exactly 18 years to the day after the debut of former Orioles great Mike Mussina. Baltimore can only hope their young hurler finds the same success with arguably more talent around him.
While his immediate future remains up in the air, if Tuesday night's performance is any indication, Matsuz' win will be the first of many.
The following players also made their Major League debuts from July 31-Aug. 6:
Alex Avila, C, Detroit Tigers
CALLED UP: Aug. 5 when the Tigers reassigned catcher Dusty Ryan to Toledo.
DEBUT: Aug. 6 in a 8-3 win over Baltimore. Avila started behind the plate and went 2-for-4 with an RBI double in the third inning.
NOTES: The son of Tigers vice president Al Avila, Alex is no stranger to the big-league environment. Detroit's fifth-round choice in the 2008 Draft, Avila has rocketed to the big leagues in just over a year. The backstop developed quickly last season at Class A West Michigan, hitting .305. This year for Double-A Erie, Avila has upped his power numbers a bit, slugging 12 home runs to go with 55 RBIs. Avila is expected to get a fair shot in the big leagues, mixing in with starter Gerald Laird.
Neftali Feliz, RHP, Texas Rangers
CALLED UP: Aug. 2 after pitcher Jason Grilli was placed on the disabled list with elbow inflammation.
DEBUT: Aug. 3 in a 3-2 loss to Oakland. Feliz pitched two perfect innings in relief, racking up four strikeouts.
NOTES: Texas fans know Feliz as one of the big prospects acquired for Mark Teixeira in 2007. His highly touted arm really drew attention last season, when he sported a 2.69 ERA between Class A Clinton and Double-A Frisco. His performance that season earned him a spot on the Midwest League All-Star team. Named one of MLB.com's Top 50 prospects, Feliz continued to develop this season with Triple-A Oklahoma City, striking out 75 batters in 77 1/3 innings. Feliz also started for the World team in last month's Futures Game in St. Louis. He is currently pitching out of the bullpen for Texas, armed with a killer fastball, but has the starting experience to transition into the rotation.
Waldis Joaquin, RHP, San Francisco Giants
CALLED UP: Aug. 1 from Double-A Connecticut when Ryan Sadowski was optioned to the Minors.
DEBUT: Aug. 4 in an 8-1 over the Astros. Joaquin pitched one inning of relief, giving up a run on two hits while striking out one.
NOTES: Joaquin has followed a winding path to the Majors since being signed as a free agent by the Giants in 2003. He stumbled a bit, missing all of 2006 and not playing above Class A Advanced in 2008. But this season for Double-A Connecticut, Joaquin found his groove, coming on solely as a reliever. The young gun held opposing hitters to a .190 average with 40 strikeouts in 54 innings. Joaquin was optioned back to Fresno on Aug. 5 when Joe Martinez was activated off the 60-day DL, but if the Giants continue toward a Wild Card berth, he could be back soon.
Jorge Padilla, RF, Washington Nationals
CALLED UP: Contract selected Aug. 5 when Austin Kearns was placed on the 15-day DL with a thumb injury.
DEBUT: Aug. 5 in a 5-4 win over Florida. Padilla pinch-hit in the seventh inning for starter John Lannan. He lined out to right field in his only at-bat.
NOTES: Padilla is one of those career Minor Leaguers who has had the stats to get to the Majors for quite some time, but just hasn't gotten the opportunity for one reason or another. Well, the 29-year-old outfielder finally got his call. It's hard not to cheer for a player like Padilla, who has been in four organizations over his long tenure. After hitting .367 in his 11th Minor League season this year, Padilla has the chance to make his mark. If he performs anywhere close to that in Washington, manager Jim Riggleman may not have a choice but to keep him at least as a bench player or fourth outfielder.
Jhonny Nunez, RHP, Chicago White Sox
CALLED UP: Recalled from Triple-A Columbus on Aug. 1.
DEBUT: Aug. 2 in a 8-5 loss to the Yankees. Nunez retired the only batter he faced.
NOTES: For a player who didn't make it above the Gulf Coast League until his third professional season in 2006, Nunez has ascended rapidly in recent years. The 23-year-old right-hander arrived in the White Sox organization this offseason as one of the pieces from the Yankees in exchange for Nick Swisher. In a short stint at Triple-A Columbus, Nunez impressed enough to earn a promotion to the big leagues. With a hard sinker and a fastball with some pop, Nunez could find himself pitching out of the White Sox bullpen down the stretch run.
Wyatt Toregas, C, Cleveland Indians
CALLED UP: July 31 from Triple-A Columbus after Victor Martinez was traded to Boston.
DEBUT: Aug. 1 in a 4-3 loss to Detroit. Toregas started behind the plate and went 1-for-5 with an RBI single from the ninth spot.
NOTES: Toregas has made the steady climb to the big leagues, impressing nearly every step of the way. A 24th round pick in the 2004 Draft, Toregas quickly excelled at Class A Advanced Kinston and Double A Akron. Despite elbow problems through the 2007 and 2008 seasons, Toregas rebounded this year with Columbus, hitting .284 with seven homers and 22 RBIs. With the departure of Martinez, Toregas could serve as a solid backup to Kelly Shoppach this season.
Bailey Stephens is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.