Continuing our 2014 farm system reviews, we look this evening at the Baltimore Orioles. Remember, this is the PRE-SEASON list! It is not a new list! These are pre-season grades and rankings. This is a review of 2014, not a preview of 2015.
1) Kevin Gausman, RHP, Grade A: Borderline A-. 3.83 ERA in 96 innings between roster bouncing, 73/35 K/BB, 94 hits, 3.40 FIP. He’s a fine young pitcher who will continue to steadily improve as long as he stays healthy.
2) Dylan Bundy, RHP, Grade A-: 41 innings in the lower minors following Tommy John recovery, stats not that important right now but has a 37/16 K/BB in those innings. Velocity reportedly down from pre-surgery peak, but that’s not unusual at this point in the process. Reports on secondary pitches were positive.
3) Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP, Grade B: Had some trouble in Double-A, 4.79 ERA, 69/29 K/BB but 90 hits in 83 innings. Traded to Red Sox and improved dramatically, with 0.96 ERA and big improvements in component ratios, K/9 going from 7.51 to 9.40 and BB/9 going from 3.16 to 1.93.
4) Hunter Harvey, RHP, Grade B: Borderline B+: Performing very well in Low-A (3.18 ERA, 106/33 K/BB in 88 innings, 66 hits, excellent scouting reports) until going on the disabled list in July with a sore elbow. Stock was shooting up quickly before he got hurt.
5) Henry Urrutia, OF, Grade B: Borderline B-. Hit .270/.284/.388, wRC+67 in 211 PA in Triple-A. Injured much of the season and may never have been fully healthy due to a sports hernia; all facets of his game slipped including power and plate discipline. At age 27, an injury season was very bad timing.
6) Jonathan Schoop, INF, Grade B-: Got to play regularly despite struggling with the bat, hitting .217/.249/.370, wRC+70 in 433 PA. Has hit 15 homers but horrible on-base abilities are a big problem. Advanced metrics like his glove a lot and he’s still just 22.
7) Michael Ohlman, C, Grade B-: I was very optimistic after terrific ’12 and ’13 seasons and strong run in Arizona Fall League, but he’s hit just .236/.310/.318 with two homers in 454 PA in Double-A, wRC+77. Will need to study the scouting reports in detail here but stock down.
8) Mike Wright, RHP, Grade B-: 4.61 ERA in 143 innings in Triple-A, 103/41 K/BB, 159 hits. Looks like an inning-eater type, lost dominance ratios in the high minors. I felt he was capable of better but could have been wrong. Stock down but still has a chance to be useful.
9) Chance Sisco, C, Grade B-: Impressive season in Low-A at age 19, hit .340/.406/.448 with 42 walks, 79 strikeouts in 426 AB for Delmarva. Would like to see more homers but a fine start to his career, hitting .345 in his first 147 pro games.
10) Tim Berry, LHP, Grade C+: Decent season in Double-A, 3.51 ERA with 108/45 K/BB in 133 innings, 122 hits for Bowie. Still has bullpen or back-end rotation possibilities.
11) Parker Bridwell, RHP, Grade C+: 4.45 ERA with 142/70 K/BB in 142 innings in High-A, 123 hits. Good dominance ratios but still needs to sharpen his control.
12) Zach Davies, RHP, Grade C+: 3.35 ERA in 110 innings in Double-A, 109/32 K/BB, 106 hits. Solid season and just 21 years old.
13) Branden Kline, RHP, Grade C+: 3.84 ERA in 127 innings in High-A, 95/32 K/BB, 143 hits. Reports say he projects better as a reliever and I don’t think the numbers would argue.
14) Stephen Tarpley, LHP, Grade C+: 3.66 ERA with 60/24 K/BB in 66 innings in the New York-Penn League, 69 hits. Good arm, needs greater consistency with secondary pitches (curve, change) according to reports.
15) Adrian Marin, SS, Grade C+: Borderline C. Hit .232/.273/.341 with 21 walks, 103 whiffs in 431 at-bats in High-A at age 20. Good defensive reputation, athletic, but lacks power and needs a sharper eye.
16) Josh Hart, OF, Grade C+: Borderline C. Hit .255/.301/.285 in 352 PA in Low-A, 11 steals, wRC+ 67. Weak performance with a notable lack of power, though young at age 19.
17) Christian Walker, 1B, Grade C+: Borderline C. Destroyed Double-A (.301/.367/.516, 20 homers in 411 PA) but had a few adjustment issues with contact in Triple-A (.259/.335/.428 in 188 PA, sharp increase in strikeout rate), which is his typical pattern after a promotion. His stock is up for me as I think the overall power surge is real.
18) Drew Dosch, 3B, Grade C: A little bit of an older guy at age 22 in Low-A but performed well, .314/.379/.404 in 556 PA. Pure hitter type, hasn’t developed home run power to this stage.
19) Tyler Wilson, RHP, Grade C: Step forward, 3.72 ERA with 91/22 K/BB in 97 innings in Double-A, 3.60 ERA with 66/21 K/BB in 70 innings in Triple-A. Limited upside at age 24 but had a good year, throwing strikes and eating innings.
20) Trey Mancini, 1B, Grade C: Beat up Low-A (.317/.362/.422) but not as productive after moving up to High-A (.251/.297/.396). Still has some sleeper potential but at age 22 he needs a step forward next year.
21) Conor Bierfeldt, OF, Grade C: Hit 12 homers in Low-A, but being below the Mendoza Line at .196/.274/.360 is fatal to the career of a 23-year-old.
The strength in this system is pitching. Gausman is a bit erratic, but when he’s on he looks like a future ace. Bundy’s return wasn’t completely perfect but scouts still see a future rotation anchor even if his velocity doesn’t come back all the way. Harvey is also an excellent prospect, though of course we’ll have to see how that elbow turns out. There are a large group of inning-eater types after the upside guys, providing back-end rotation or bullpen options for the future.
Lefty Steven Brault showed excellent command in A-ball and has moved from a Grade C sleeper type into genuine prospect status. Sebastian Vader has also shown flashes, though the right-hander saw his strikeout rate drop after he was promoted from Low-A to High-A.
On the position side, Schoop can’t get on base, but his power flashes and glove could keep him employed long enough for him to work that issue out, in theory anyway. Urrutia had a lost year but Christian Walker’s campaign went a long way towards answering questions about if he’d have enough power for first base. Chance Sisco and Drew Dosch are intriguing pure hitters, but adding more power to the system would be helpful.
Cuban outfielder Dariel Alvarez hit .311/.336/.484 between Double-A and Triple-A; reports on him were rather vague when this list was written in January, but he’ll certainly rank well on the ’15 version. Vanderbilt product Mike Yastrzemski hit three levels for a .288/.346/.490 line, though his production slipped in Double-A and he’s already 24.
Like the Diamondbacks, the Orioles don’t have an elite farm system, but it isn’t terrible. They could use more bats, but there is some pitching depth