* RHP Chris Tillman and CF Adam Jones, the stalwarts of the Baltimore Orioles, came from the Seattle Mariners organization in the Erik Bedard (Navan, Ont.) trade … and both were scouted by cross checker Ron Tostenson (Kelowna, BC), who now scouts for the Montreal Expos.
By Bob Elliott
BALTIMORE _ It’s not accurate to give one man all the credit for the Baltimore Orioles winning the American League East.
Or being a Sunday afternoon victory at Comerica Park away from the their first AL Championship Series appearance since 1997.
Erik Bedard was good.
He wasn’t that good.
Seattle Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi dealt five players to the O’s for the Navan, Ont. lefty Feb. 8, 2008.
Reliever George Sherrill and prospect Adam Jones, who combined to appear in 117 games with the 2007 M’s plus minor leaguers Chris Tillman, Tony Butler and Kam Mickolio was the five-player haul Andy MacPhail, O’s GM, received which laid the foundation for this October’s success.
Scout Ron Tostenson, of Kelowna, B.C.. had a lot to do with the M`s originally acquiring the talent. Tostenson, an outfielder in the Montreal Expos system and former Blue Jays scout, was cross checking Californian amateurs for the M’s before Jones and Tillman were selected.
A first round selection (37th over-all) from the Morse High Tigers in San Diego, Jones was given a $925,000 US signing bonus by scout Joe Bohringer in 2003.
A second-round pick from Fountain Valley High Barons Tillman earned $680,000 from scout Tim Reynolds in 2006 the year Brandon Morrow was the M’s first pick.
Jones hits third for the Os and batted .311 driving in 96 runs with a .780 OPS. Nelson Cruz with his 40 homers, .859 OPS had the better year.
“Cruz might get the most consideration in AL MVP voting,” said an National League scout working the series, “but Jones is the Orioles MVP.”
A 13-game winner, Tillman won Game 1 of the best-of-five set against the Detroit Tigers.
“They both had universities to attend if they weren’t drafted,” said Totenson from Sacramento. “They were good students, not great students.”
Jones had signed to attend San Diego State, Tillman, Cal-State Fullerton, if the scout remembers right.
“The refreshing thing about them was both wanted to play,” said Tostenson, who now scouts for the Chicago Cubs. “Each was a high profile player in his year.”
Jones was a two-way threat in high school — on the mound and at the plate, either at shortstop or centre. Tostenson saw Jones play for his school and at the Area Code Games in Long Beach.
“The majority of the teams liked Jones better as a pitcher,” Tostenson said. “We thought the bat improved. He was further advanced on the mound than say Anthony Gose another two-way guy. Adam had a legit curve ball and hit 94 MPH, while Gose threw harder (95 MPH) but I’m not sure he had the ability to spin a curve like Adam.
“Adam was only an average runner, maybe a 6.9 in the 60, 4.3 to first base. He did get faster like Shawn Green. As Adam’s spring progressed he went from pull happy to driving the ball to right centre. He had an aptitude to get better.”
Jones stuck out whether it was regular season or facing the best talent from west of the Mississippi at the Area Codes “he had that different kind of swagger and confidence.”
Bedard, of Navan, Ont. was coming off a solid season (13-5, 3.16 ERA in 28 starts) with Baltimore. Sherrill, then 30, signed by Wayne Norton, of Port Moody, B.C. from the independent Winnipeg Goldeyes earned all-star honours at Yankee Stadium in 2008 after pitching in 73 games with the M’s (2.36 ERA), while Jones, then 21, spent 41 games with the 2007 M`s and the rest of the time at triple-A Tacoma,
Mostly though MacPhail and his scouts were dealing in futures: Tillman, 19, (7-11, 4.84 ERA in 28 starts) pitched at class-A High Desert and Wisconsin, Mickolio, 23, a second-year pro (6-4, 2.68 in 32 relief appearances) at double-A West Tennessee and Tacoma and Butler, 19 (4-7 4.75) at Wisconsin.
The keys were the futures for MacPahil. Tostenson`s futures.
“Tillman was easier to scout, his arm worked well, he could spin a curve,” said Tostenson. “I thought Tillman might be a first rounder but he had a mediocre spring.”
For Reynolds it was his first year scouting.
Who is the scout rooting for as he looks for the next Jones or Tillman?
“You always hope your guys do well — Doug Fister (Washington Nationals) too — but I’m rooting for the San Francisco Giants to win,” he said.
The scout’s father, Henry Tostenson is almost 90, coached ball in Kelowna for 30 years and is a life-long Giants fan.
“I covered a Giants series a couple of years ago and got to take him with me to the new park,” said Tostenson, who recalls as a five-year-old climbing into his pop’s blue pick-up truck in the mid-1960s.
“We’d sit in the truck and listen to the Giants from Candlestick for hours. They had Juan Marichal, Tito Fuentes and Bobby Bonds. They weren’t real good but talking about it brings back good memories. Mom always knew where we were.”