Baltimore Orioles Top 20 Prospects for 2013
The list and grades are a blending of present performance and long-term potential. Comments are welcome, but in the end all analysis and responsibility is mine. Full reports on all of players can be found in the 2013 Baseball Prospect Book. e are now taking pre-orders. Order early and order often!
QUICK PRIMER ON GRADE MEANINGS:
Grade A prospects are the elite. They have a reasonable 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. Some end up as role players or bench guys. Many don't make it at all.
Also note that there is diversity within each category. I'm a tough grader; Grade C+ is actually good praise, and some C+ prospects (especially at lower levels) turn out very well indeed.
Finally, keep in mind that all grades are shorthand. You have to read the full comment in the book 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.
THIS LIST IS CURRENT AS OF JANUARY 15, 2013
1) Dylan Bundy, RHP, Grade A: Is he the product of genetic experimentation? Bundy has everything you want in a pitching prospect...excellent stuff, good command, superior makeup, great performance. As long as he remains healthy, he should be a legitimate ace.
2) Kevin Gausman, RHP, Grade A-: LSU product has excellent fastball/changeup combination and strong makeup. Development of breaking ball is key but I'm optimistic about that. Like Bundy, he can be an ace.
3) Jonathan Schoop, INF, Grade B: He's been pushed, but I like him better than the raw numbers and I think he will develop into a very solid regular infielder with good pop. Pronounced "Scope" like the mouthwash.
4) Nick Delmonico, 1B, Grade B-: Orioles fans seem to think he'll be a star. I see him more as a solid regular with patience and at least moderate power, but expectations need to be kept reasonable.
5) Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP, Grade B-: Top lefty in the system, turns 20 in April, saw velocity boost last year and he already threw strikes. Mid-rotation upside.
6) Branden Kline, RHP, Grade B-: Live arm from University of Virginia, second round pick, erratic in college but has fastball/slider combination to succeed in pro ball. Somewhat raw for a college guy, but considerable upside. Could develop into mid-rotation starter if changeup develops, or a closer if he fits better in relief.
7) Mike Wright, RHP, Grade B-: Borderline C+. Inning-eater type with sinker and three decent secondary pitches, scuffled occasionally in Double-A but has moved pretty quickly for a 2011 draftee (third round, East Carolina). Could develop into reliable fourth starter if you put a good defense behind him.
8) L.J. Hoes, OF, Grade C+: Borderline B-. I like his on-base skills and may bump him to B-, but lack of home run power could make him a fourth outfielder rather than a regular.
9) Steve Johnson, RHP, Grade C+: Borderline B-. Seems like he's been around forever, but is still just 25. Don't expect him to duplicate the 2.11 ERA he posted in 38 innings for Baltimore, but he can be a useful and versatile pitcher who can help as a back-end starter or reliever.
10) Christian Walker, 1B, Grade C+: Borderline B-. University of South Carolina star has mature approach, good on-base skills, but will he hit enough home runs for first base at higher levels?
11) Adrian Marin, SS, Grade C+: Scouts really seem to like this guy, third round pick out of high school in Miami in 2012. Has athleticism to stick at shortstop, expected to hit for average despite unconventional hitting approach. Power is doubtful. You can make a good case to rank him above Walker due to positional scarcity.
12) Xavier Avery, OF, Grade C+: Borderline C. You will see him ranked more highly on other lists and he's very athletic, but will he ever hit enough to play regularly?
13) Glynn Davis, OF, Grade C+: Borderline C. The "+" is difficult to defend sabermetrically but I'll go with instinct on this one. Blazing speed, will take a walk, and for some reason I can't pin down I think his bat has more juice in it than he's shown so far.
14) Tyler Wilson, RHP, Grade C+: Borderline C. Baltimore's version of Michael Fiers? Tremendous pitchability with blah velocity, excellent command, terrific K/BB ratio so far in his career. There are many higher-upside arms in the system who would rank more highly on a list that looked at nothing but raw ability, but that's not my approach.
15) Mike Belfiore, LHP, Grade C: Borderline C+: LOOGY type acquired from Arizona, pitched well after the trade and placed on 40-man roster. Very tough on lefties with fastball/slider combo and could help in pen this year.
16) Henry Urrutia, OF, Grade C: Borderline C+. Cuban defector, signed this summer for $778,500, but is still stalled with visa problems and hasn't played yet. I really have no idea where to rank him, but people will ask about him, so here he is. Scouting reports say he's a line drive hitter with good strike zone judgment, age 25, switch-hitter, doesn't run well enough to play center. Main question is how much home run power he'll show. This grade and ranking could be too low, but there is just no way to know right now. The Orioles were planning to send him to Double-A after he signed, but he hasn't played regularly since 2010 and likely has rust to work off. A real wild card.
17) Devin Jones, RHP, Grade C: Borderline C+. Gets tons of grounders, could develop into nice inning-eater but slippage in K/IP ratio in High-A is a caution flag.
18) Michael Ohlman, C, Grade C: Borderline C+. Tough grade. A top prospect in high school, he did nothing for three years, got suspended for "drug of abuse" this past spring, then played extremely well for 50 games after returning, showing the offensive and defensive skills that had been missing since high school. Was this a fluke? Or did he figure something out?
19) Ty Kelly, INF-OF, Grade C: Not toolsy, but a very polished switch-hitter, batted .327/.425/.467 with 79 walks, 72 strikeouts in 471 at-bats at three levels last year. Age 24. Other guys have better tools but Kelly's on-base skills and ability to play multiple positions could be useful on a bench, and he's fairly close to the majors.
20) Brenden Webb, OF, Grade C: One of the best toolsets in the system, very athletic, lefty bat, hit 14 homers, stole 19 bases, drew 98 walks. . .and fanned 138 times in 385 at-bats between Low-A and High-A. Turns 23 in February, very much a high upside, low floor guy. Could thrive if he improves his contact issues.
OTHERS: Roderick Bernadina, OF; Ryan Berry, RHP; Tim Berry, LHP; Torsten Boss, 3B; Parker Bridwell, RHP; Robert Bundy, RHP; Zach Clark, RHP; Zack Davies, RHP; Josh Hader, LHP; Joe Mahoney, 1B; Rafael Moreno, RHP; Connor Narron, SS; Stuart Pomeranz, RHP; Lex Rutledge, LHP; Clay Schrader, RHP; Tyler Townsend, 1B; Sebastian Vader, RHP; Hector Veloz, 3B; Brady Wager, RHP; Brandon Waring, 3B-1B.
This is a very tough system to rank. The guys at the top are obvious: Bundy/Gausman/Schoop is pretty much set in stone. The B-/C+ types aren't terribly difficult to rank, but then you have a huge group of guys that can be placed in just about any order, especially once you get into the Cs.
You could make a case to put MOST of the players in the "others" list somewhere in the top 20. But I can't reproduce the whole book here, so from about 13 on I just wrote about the guys that I find most interesting for one reason or another. Your mileage will vary and arguments about Grade C prospects, while entertaining, aren't anything to get upset about.
The Orioles have the foundation of a pitching staff here, with two ace types in Bundy and Gausman, then some B-/C+ arms behind them who should at least help fill out a roster. Many of the Grade Cs are projectable and have talent as well, but are a long way from the majors (Moreno) or have command issues (Schrader, Rutledge).
I am less impressed with the hitting. I like Schoop a lot, but beyond him I don't see anyone who looks like a certain impact regular. Delmonico is interesting, but he could develop into anything from Tino Martinez to Paul Sorrento. Let's give him another year. Hoes is a nice OBP guy but is he an impact regular? Probably not. Avery has those great tools but I'm not convinced that he'll ever refine them. After that there is a mixture of potential role players and some guys with tools who haven't proven that they can use them yet. And who knows what Urrutia or Ohlman turn into.
This assessment may sound somewhat negative, but I don't mean it that way. The Orioles need more depth, but overall I think they have made considerable progress rebuilding the system. Say what you will about Dan Duquette, but he can pick guys off the scrap heap and isn't afraid to look for talent in unusual places. And don't forget Manny Machado, no longer a rookie but looking like a franchise cornerstone.