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Baltimore Orioles Top 20 Prospects for 2010

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Top 20 Baltimore Orioles Prospects for 2010

All grades are EXTREMELY PRELIMINARY and subject to change. Don't get too worried about exact rankings at this point, especially once you get beyond the Top 10. Grade C+/C guys are pretty interchangeable depending on what you want to emphasize. Complete reports on these and over 1,000 other players will be in the 2010 Baseball Prospect Book, now available for pre-order, shipping on February 2nd!

1) Brian Matusz, LHP, Grade A: I don't see anything to complain about here. Could be something like a cross between Barry Zito and Mark Mulder when they were young.

2) Jake Arrieta, RHP, Grade B+: I like this guy a little more than most people, but I love the upside and I think the command will come around.

3) Zach Britton, LHP, Grade B: Love the grounders, solid strikeout rate, I'm pro-Britton.

4) Josh Bell, 3B, Grade B: I like Bell too, but I see him more as a solid regular than a future star.

5) Brandon Erbe, RHP, Grade B: Borderline B-. Have always loved the upside, but durability and consistency remain concerns.

6) Brandon Snyder, 1B, Grade B-: I think he has a good bat, but not a GREAT one.

7) Matt Hobgood, RHP, Grade B-: Liked him a lot in high school, need more pro data before going higher.

8) Mychal Givens, SS, Grade B-: Great tools, grade is highly speculative at this point until we get some performance data. Can always try pitching if he doesn't hit.

9) Brandon Waring, 3B-1B, Grade C+: I like the power, but am unsure about the glove. Like Bell and Snyder, he seems more solid-ish than star-ish. Batting average and OBP may be issues.

10) Kam Mickolio, RHP, Grade C+: I am the Great Mickolio. I need control for my baseball. I have no changeup. Do you need fastball for your bullpen?

11) Luis Lebron, RHP, Grade C+: Another hard-throwing bullpen option if he throws strikes.

12) Steve Johnson, RHP, Grade C+: Might get overlooked because of his boring name. Possible fourth starter type if the command is there.

13) Brandon Cooney, RHP, Grade C+: Another hard-throwing bullpen option if he throws strikes.

14) Ryan Berry, RHP, Grade C+: A steal in the ninth round, IF his arm doesn't fall off due to the Rice injury curse.

15) Ashur Tolliver, LHP, Grade C+: Interesting southpaw arm with very good stuff, probably fits in the pen better than as a starter.

16) Caleb Joseph, C, Grade C: Might be a C+, could be convinced to raise this grade. Good power potential, defense is questionable.

17) Troy Patton, LHP, Grade C: Arm problems have cut his stock drastically, but I wouldn't count him out just yet. Command still a strength.

18) Michael Ohlman, C, Grade C: Power potential draws lots of praise, but no pro data yet and defense is questioned.

19) Xavier Avery, OF, Grade C: High-ceiling tools outfielder with questionable bat, young enough to improve greatly.

20) Cameron Coffey, LHP, Grade C: Tommy John survivor, could rank much higher once we see how he recovers from surgery. Clocked as high as 95 MPH before injury.

OTHERS (All Grade C): Matt Angle, OF; David Baker, RHP; Jesse Beal, RHP; Pedro Beato, RHP; Bobby Bundy, RHP; Jacob Cowan, RHP; Oliver Drake, RHP; Pat Egan, RHP; Pedro Florimon, SS; Eddie Gamboa, RHP; Randy Henry, RHP; Tyler Henson, 3B; L.J. Hoes, 2B; Rhyne Hughes, 1B; Jarret Martin, LHP; Cole McCurry, LHP; Bill Rowell, OF; Tyler Townsend, 1B; Justin Turner, 2B; Aaron Wirsch, LHP; Rick Zagone, LHP.

I think the Orioles system is often underrated. There is a lot to like at the top, with Matusz entering the '10 rotation and Arrieta not far behind him. I probably like Arrieta and Britton a bit more than most analysts. Erbe has tremendous potential as well. There is the nucleus of a really good pitching staff here, with several potential major league starters as well as the raw material of a fine bullpen, with a mixture of excellent arms (Mickolio, Lebron, Cooney) as well as guys with command (Egan, Gamboa) who could be fine staff fillers.

Things are thinner on the position side. The best of the hitters is Bell, but I see him more as a very solid guy than a future superstar. Snyder and Waring have potential, but again they strike me more as guys who can be pretty good rather than lineup anchors. Athletes like Givens and Avery have great ceilings but who knows if they can learn how to actually play. Joseph and Ohlman provide some catching depth behind Wieters, but neither one are certain to stick there.

All in all, this system has some major strength in young pitching but they could stand to boost the hitting.