U.S. Futures All-Star Zach Britton of the Baltimore Orioles throws a pitch during the 2010 XM All-Star Futures Game on July 11 2010 (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Baltimore Orioles Top 20 Prospects for 2011
All grades are EXTREMELY PRELIMINARY and subject to change. Don't get too concerned about exact rankings at this point, especially once you get past the Top 10. Grade C+/C guys are pretty interchangeable depending on what you want to emphasize.
Feel free to critique the list, but use logic and reason rather than polemics to do to. The list and grades are a blending of present performance and long-term potential. Full reports on all of players can be found in the 2011 Baseball Prospect Book. We are now taking pre-orders. Order early and order often!
QUICK PRIMER ON GRADE MEANINGS:
Grade A prospects are the elite. They have a good chance of becoming stars or superstars. Almost all Grade A prospects develop into major league regulars, if injuries or other problems don't intervene. Note that is a major "if" in some cases.
Grade B prospects have a good chance to enjoy successful careers. Some will develop into stars, some will not. Most end up spending several years in the majors, at the very least in a marginal role.
Grade C prospects are the most common type. These are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for. A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars. Many end up as role players or bench guys. Some don't make it at all.
A major point to remember is that grades for pitchers do NOT correspond directly to grades for hitters. Many Grade A pitching prospects fail to develop, often due to injuries. Some Grade C pitching prospects turn out much better than expected.
Also note that there is diversity within each category. I'm a tough grader; Grade C+ is actually good praise coming from me, and some C+ prospects turn out very well indeed.
Finally, keep in mind that all grades are shorthand. You have to read the full comment for my full opinion about a player, the letter grade only tells you so much. A Grade C prospect in rookie ball could end up being very impressive, while a Grade C prospect in Triple-A is likely just a future role player.
1) Manny Machado, SS, Grade A-: Looks like everything you could want in a shortstop. Just needs some experience.
2) Zach Britton, LHP, Grade A-: Love his steady development profile, grounders+strikeouts and command.
3) Dan Klein, RHP, Grade B-: Polished, shouldn't need much minor league time, will durability be an issue if used as starter?
4) Mycal Givens, SS, Grade B-: Injury season, but I like him a lot, toolsy, controls zone well.
5) Xavier Avery, OF, Grade C+: Improved slightly, but I have enough doubts about the bat to preclude a higher grade.
6) L.J. Hoes, 2B, Grade C+: Should hit for average and get on base, power?
7) Jonathan Schoop, SS, Grade C+: Not sure why, but this one stands out to me as a breakout candidate.
8) Ryan Adams, INF, Grade C+: I like the pop in his bat, but defense and plate discipline are problems.
9) Ryan Berry, RHP, Grade C+: I liked him when he was at Rice, can be fourth starter or a good reliever.
10) Wynn Pelzer, RHP, Grade C+: I liked him since his college days at South Carolina. Live arm, should be a good reliever, but it is odd that he was unprotected and unclaimed under Rule 5.
11) Joseph Mahoney, 1B, Grade C+: Huge guy with power, more athleticism than normal for his size, could be a Luke Scott-like sleeper.
12) Tyler Townsend, 1B, Grade C+: Injury season but played well, could rank much higher next year.
13) Matt Hobgood, RHP, Grade C+: Don't give up on him yet; he was the equivalent of a college freshman.
14) Brandon Cooney, RHP, Grade C+: Improvement with his command could make him good relief asset soon.
15) Bobby Bundy, RHP, Grade C+: Live arm made progress, another breakthrough candidate.
16) Connor Narron, SS, Grade C+: High offensive upside, though early numbers were poor.
17) Brandon Waring, 3B, Grade C: Loads of power, but strikeout rate is very high.
18) Eddie Gamboa, RHP, Grade C: Solid utility pitcher, could be a useful swingman.
19) Jarrett Martin, LHP, Grade C: Good stuff, needs to sharpen his control, could break through if that happens.
20) Trent Mummey, OF, Grade C: Could be a solid fourth outfielder if college skills translate better into pro ball.
OTHERS: Matt Angle, OF; Jesse Beal, RHP, Tim Berry, LHP; Parker Bridwell, RHP; Matt Bywater, LHP; Cam Coffee, LHP; Oliver Drake, RHP; Jaime Esquivel, RHP; Randy Henry, RHP; Caleb Joseph, C; Adrian Rosario, RHP; Clay Schrader, RHP; Brandon Snyder, 1B; Ashur Tolliver, LHP; Sebastian Vader, RHP; Ronnie Welty, OF; Aaron Wirsch, LHP.
Machado is great at the top, and I really like Britton, but it thins out fast after that. There are some interesting middle infielders who can pair with Machado eventually. I think Givens can be the best of them. Outfield is very thin.
The pitching list could look much better next year; a lot of the C+/C guys have breakout potential but get conservative grades right now due to lack of experience or injury issues. Martin, Bridwell, T. Berry, Coffee, Esquivel, Tolliver, Vader, and Wirsch could all do interesting things once they get some innings under their belts.
Overall the system looks thing right now, but there is some hope for the future, especially on the pitching side.