Rookies on the Playoff Teams: Baltimore Orioles
Here is a look at rookies and prospects who played for the Baltimore Orioles in 2012.
Xavier Avery, OF: Age 22, hit .236/.330/.356 with 51 walks and 106 strikeouts in 390 at-bats for Triple-A Norfolk, with 22 steals in 29 attempts. Hit .223/.305/.340 with six steals in nine attempts in the majors, 11/23 BB/K in 94 at-bats. Superior athlete with good speed and occasional power, but held back by problem with contact. I think he profiles as a fourth outfielder. Drafted in the second round in 2008 from high school in Ellenwood, Georgia.
Dylan Bundy, RHP: Age 19, phenom pitching prospect blew away the minors (2.08 ERA, 119/28 K/BB in 104 innings, a mere 67 hits) at three levels, finishing in Double-A then seeing a brief cup of java in the majors (1.2 innings). 92-95 MPH heater, mixes in changeup and breaking balls, throws strikes, looks like a big leaguer despite his youth. Could use more time in the upper minors but an outstanding pitching prospect overall and potential #1 starter. Drafted in the first round in 2011 from high school in Owasso, Oklahoma.
Wei-Yin Chen, LHP: Age 27, Taiwan native who pitched well in Japan for four years, continued that in the majors, going 12-11, 4.02 with a 154/57 K/BB in 193 innings, 186 hits allowed. Standard lefty who works in upper-80s, low-90s, mixes in a variety of other pitches. What you see is what you get here, a solid mid-rotation starter. Signed as a free agent this past January.
Ryan Flaherty, UT: Age 26, hit .216/.258/.359 with six homers, six walks, 43 strikeouts in 153 major league at-bats. Rule 5 pick who stayed on the roster all year. Hit well in the minors at times but can be erratic, was held back by poor plate discipline in the majors. Ability to play multiple positions helps but he needs more with the bat. Drafted by Chicago Cubs in supplemental first round of the 2008 draft from Vanderbilt.
Luis Exposito, C: Age 25, claimed on waivers this past spring from Boston, hit .268/.326/.420 in 205 at-bats for Norfolk, went 1-for-18 in the majors. Hasn't done much with the bat since reaching Triple-A, looks like a marginal backup type at this point. Drafted by the Red Sox in the 31st round in 2005 from St. Petersburg Junior College.
Miguel Gonzalez, RHP: Age 28, signed as a minor league free agent to help fill out Triple-A roster, ended up having a strong season in the majors, 9-4, 3.25 with 77/35 K/BB in 106 innings, 92 hits. Low-90s fastball, mixes in slider, curve, changeup. Not spectacular but looks like he can help as a four/five starter or relief asset. Originally from Mexico, signed by the Angels in 2004.
L.J. Hoes, OF: Age 22, hit .287/.372/.388 with 65 walks, 76 strikeouts, 20-for-32 in steals in 513 at-bats in Double-A and Triple-A. Got one at-bat for the Orioles. Line drive hitter with patience and speed, but he doesn't have much power and is a "tweener" defensively. Still young enough to develop in positive ways, and he is a local kid from Washington DC. Drafted in the third round in 2008.
Steve Johnson, RHP: Age 25, another local guy born in Baltimore, posted a 2.86 ERA with an 86/31 K/BB in 91 innings in Triple-A, then a 2.11 ERA with a 46/18 K/BB in 38 major league innings. Note the high strikeout rate. Relatively unheralded, he has average velocity but a workable breaking ball and changeup. Looks like he can be a useful utility pitcher/spot starter. Drafted in the 13th round in 2005 from high school in Baltimore, by the Dodgers.
Manny Machado, 3B-SS: Age 20, phenom, hit .266/.352/.438 in 109 Double-A games, then .262/.294/.445 with seven homers, nine walks, and 38 strikeouts in 191 major league at-bats after unexpected promotion. He's got some strike zone things to clear up, but he handled the pennant chase well and is a fine defender at third base in addition to a strong bat. The gamble to promote him paid off. Drafted in the first round in 2010 from high school in Hialeah, Florida.
Joe Mahoney, 1B: Age 25, hit .265/.319/.389 with 10 homers, 35 walks, 95 strikeouts in 491 at-bats in Triple-A. Went 0-for-4 in the majors. He has to hit a lot better than this to warrant a look at first base. Drafted in the sixth round in 2007 from the University of Richmond.
Troy Patton, LHP: Age 27, former top prospect until hurting his arm, has rebuilt his career as a bullpen lefty, posted 2.43 ERA with 49/12 K/BB in 56 innings, 45 hits allowed. LOOGY profile but he's not helpless against right-handers, should last awhile as a bullpen option. Drafted by the Astros in the ninth round in 2004 from high school in Magnolia, Texas.
Zach Phillips, LHP: Age 26, posted 3.17 ERA with 45/22 K/BB in 54 innings for Norfolk, allowed seven hits and four runs in seven major league innings. Fastball/slider arsenal, but had a reverse platoon split in both Triple-A and tiny major league sample, which would make LOOGY use problematic. Drafted by the Rangers in the 23rd round in 2004 from Sacramento City College.
Stuart Pomeranz, RHP: Age 27, hampered by injuries most of the year, threw just 23 innings split between Double-A and Triple-A, but with excellent results: 0.00 ERA, 35/3 K/BB, just nine hits. Threw six innings in the majors. Live arm with 90-96 MPH heat and solid breaking ball, but has a checkered performance and injury history. Drafted by Cardinals in 2003, second rounder from high school in Germantown, Tennessee.
Pedro Strop, RHP: Age 27, posted 2.44 ERA with 58/37 K/BB in 66 innings, 52 hits, 2.47 GO/AO. Has always excited scouts with superior arm strength, but minor league career was rocky due to injuries and command issues. He's made progress and should help in the bullpen, with some chance that he could close eventually under the right conditions. He has the stuff if the command is there. Signed by the Rockies in 2002 from Dominican Republic.
Steven Tolleson, UT: Age 28, minor league vet, hit .278/.358/.346 in 162 at-bats for Norfolk, .183/.227/.310 with four walks, 17 strikeouts in 71 at-bats for Orioles. Prototype "scrappy" infielder looking for a bench role somewhere. Drafted by the Twins in the fifth round in 2005 from the University of South Carolina.
Like the Cardinals and Tigers, the Orioles ran a fairly large group of rookies through the roster, although most of them didn't see a lot of action. The main exceptions are Manny Machado, who sported a 1.2 WAR despite appearing in just 51 games, and Taiwanese import Wei-Yin Chen, who helped stabilize the rotation with a 2.2 WAR. Miguel Gonzalez, Pedro Strop, Troy Patton, and Steve Johnson helped provide additional quality pitching depth, and of course the fans got to take a look at top prospect Dylan Bundy with a brief September exposure.