After taking a big step backwards this year, 26-year-old Felix Pie was designated for assignment by the Orioles on Tuesday. The team has called up fellow outfielder Matt Angle to take his place.
Pie, a former Cubs prospect, seemed ready to start in center field for some team after a 2009 season in which he hit .266/.326/.437 with nine homers in 252 at-bats, but rather than trade him, the Orioles instead kept him around as a part-time left fielder in 2010. He wasn’t really an asset in that role, hitting .274/.305/.413 in 288 at-bats.
Pie’s hopes of an expanded role this year died with the Vladimir Guerrero signing, and he was unable to capitalize after injuries to Derrek Lee, Luke Scott and Guerrero opened the door for him to seize the left-field job. He was hitting just .220/.264/.280 in 164 at-bats. Since the beginning of June, he was hitting .184 with two RBI and six runs scored in 87 at-bats.
While Pie may yet be young enough to turn into a useful player, his hopes of making it as a regular appear dashed. His lack of plate discipline is a huge issue at the plate, and he doesn’t use his speed to the best of his ability. Advertised as a quality defensive center fielder when he arrived in the majors, his fielding numbers have gotten worse every year to the point at which he was actually abysmal in left field this season.
To replace their underachiever, the Orioles are calling up an overachiever with a similar profile. Like Pie, Angle is left-handed-hitting outfielder with limited power and good speed. He was hitting .272/.347/.345 with 27 steals in 30 attempts for Triple-A Norfolk this season. Angle is just seven months younger than Pie, and he’s probably a fifth outfielder at best. Still, the Orioles have nothing to lose by giving him a look.