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Baltimore Orioles Top 20 prospects for 2018: mid-season review

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How did the ‘18 list turn out?

Baltimore Orioles v Cleveland Indians
Cedric Mullins
Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Continuing with our mid-season organization reviews, we turn our attention to Baltimore Orioles farm system.

This list was originally published January 26th, 2018

*****THIS IS NOT A NEW LIST******

THIS IS A REVIEW OF THE PRE-SEASON LIST

THESE ARE NOT NEW GRADES

1) Austin Hays, OF, Grade B+: Age 23, third round pick in 2016 from Jacksonville University; breakout campaign in ’17 but 2018 has been much different, hitting .238/.268/.396 in 227 at-bats in Double-A, limited by shoulder and ankle injuries; hasn’t been healthy and needs reps to focus on improving his plate discipline, stock is down but still an intriguing prospect with power/speed mix.

2) Ryan Mountcastle, INF, Grade B/B+: Age 21, first round pick in 2015 from high school in Oviedo, Florida; fine season in Double-A, .298/.347/.474 with 12 homers, 26 walks, 69 strikeouts in 346 at-bats; showing no ill effects from broken hand in the spring; main question remains defense, as he’s been substandard at both third base and shortstop but there are few doubts about the bat.

3) Chance Sisco, C, Grade B: Age 23, second round pick in 2013 from high school in Corona, California; hit .195/.306/.289 in 149 major league at-bats, .238/.313/.333 in 105 Triple-A at-bats; disappointing season offensively considering past track record, but on the other hand his defense has improved dramatically over the last two years; I think they just need to let him play.

4) Hunter Harvey, RHP, Grade B-: Age 23, first round pick in 2013 from high school in Catawba, North Carolina; 5.57 ERA in 32 innings in Double-A, 30/9 K/BB, on the disabled list again, this time with more elbow soreness after suffering shoulder problems early in the season.

5) DL Hall, LHP, Grade B-: Age 19, drafted in first round in 2017 from high school in Valdosta, Georgia; strong campaign with 2.21 ERA in 85 innings in Low-A, 90/38 K/BB, just 62 hits; fastball up to 95, plus curveball, command needs some work but he can really dominate, has a 0.92 ERA in his last 49 innings; stock definitely moving up.

6) Michael Baumann, RHP, Grade B-: Age 22, third round pick in 2017 from Jacksonville University; 3.26 ERA in 119 innings between Low-A and High-A, 97/49 K/BB, 98 hits; secondary pitches coming along, hits mid-90s, could be workhorse.

7) Tanner Scott, LHP, Grade B-/C+: Age 24, sixth round pick in 2014 from Howard Junior College; 6.13 ERA in 40 major league innings, 58/21 K/BB; throws 1874 MPH, command the obvious problem, could be excellent if that improves, but will it?

8) Cedric Mullins, OF, Grade B-/C+: Age 23, 13th round pick from Campbell in 2015; emerging prospect, hitting .289/.346/.472 with 21 steals in AA/AAA, now in majors and hitting .310/.396/.571 in first 42 at-bats; very fast with sneaky power, fun to watch, stock moving up.

9) Anthony Santander, OF, Grade B-/C+: Age 23, from Venezuela, drafted by Orioles from Cleveland Indians system in 2016 Rule 5 draft; injury-plagued, hitting .258/.294/.402 in 209 at-bats in Double-A, .198/.250/.297 in 101 at-bats in the majors; good raw power, more chances will come if he can get healthy.

10) D.J. Stewart, OF, Grade B-/C+: Age 24, first round pick out of Florida State in 2015; hitting .234/.331/.391 with 12 homers, 10 steals, 53 walks, 94 strikeouts in 389 at-bats in Triple-A; not a terrible season but not a good one either especially compared to strong ’17 campaign; stock trending down again.

11) Keegan Akin, LHP, Grade C+: Age 23, second round pick in 2016 from Western Michigan University; 2.77 ERA in 130 innings in Double-A, 135/56 K/BB, just 98 hits; can get to mid-90s, command steadily improving; if he pitched in the Yankees or Braves systems he’d be receiving a huge amount of hype right now; stock definitely up.

12) Adam Hall, SS, Grade C+: Age 19, second round pick in 2017 from high school in Ontario; hitting .276/.352/.357 in 185 at-bats in the New York-Penn League, 17 steals; can probably stick at shortstop, speed stands out, breakout possible in ’19 if he can lock down the strike zone a bit more.

13) Nestor Cortes, LHP, Grade C+: Age 23, drafted by Yankees in 36th round in 2013 from high school in Florida; acquired by Orioles in 2017 Rule 5 draft; was sent back to the Yankees in April and is having a good year in Triple-A, 3.28 ERA in 102 innings, 86/33 K/BB, 84 hits; lefty with good track record will find a spot eventually.

14) Jomar Reyes, 3B, Grade C+: Age 21, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2014; so-so offensive season in High-A at .261/.307/.383; defense at third has been awful (.889 fielding percentage), still shows raw power but a disappointing campaign overall, still young though.

15) Zac Lowther, LHP, Grade C+: Age 22, compensation round pick in 2017 from Xavier University; 2.26 ERA in 112 innings in Low-A/High-A, 137/35 K/BB, just 81 hits; pitchability type with strong command, ahead of the curve at this level, Double-A next year will be the big test, trending up.

16) Yefry Ramirez, RHP, Grade C+: Age 24, from the Dominican Republic; acquired from New York Yankees for international bonus money last summer; 6.49 ERA in first 43 major league innings, 42/25 K/BB, 44 hits; has more ability than the ERA implies but might do better in bullpen.

17) Pedro Araujo, RHP, Grade C+: Age 25, from the Dominican Republic; acquired in Rule 5 draft from Chicago Cubs system in December; made the team, posted 7.71 ERA in 28 MLB innings, 29/18 K/BB, dogged by nine homers, went on disabled list with elbow injury in June. Still has a chance if he’s healthy and can cut down the gophers.

18) Jose Mesa, RHP, Grade C+: Age 25, 24th round pick in 2012 from high school in Florida by the Yankees, another 2017 Rule 5 selection; didn’t make the roster, sent back to the Yankees, has spent most of the year on the disabled list.

19) Cody Sedlock, RHP, Grade C+: Age 23, first round pick in 2016 from University of Illinois; has missed most of the season with shoulder problems.

20) Alex Wells, LHP, Grade C+: Age 21, signed out of Australia in 2015; 3.57 ERA in High-A with 89/30 K/BB in 124 innings, 132 hits and 16 homers allowed; interesting to watch with his curveball and change-up but stuff will be tested at higher levels.

OTHER GRADE C+:

Cameron Bishop, LHP; Very nice year in Low-A, 2.96 ERA, 94/20 K/BB in 122 innings, sleeper to watch

Trevor Craport, 3B; Hitting .257/.323/.417 with 11 homers, 33 walks, 72 strikeouts in Low-A

Stefan Crichton, RHP; Traded to Arizona Diamondbacks in April, posted 10.13 ERA in 16 AAA innings and was released.

Brenan Hanifee, RHP; 2.91 ERA in 127 innings in Low-A, 81/21 K/BB, 113 hits, 1.61 GO/AO, solid season.

David Hess, RHP; 5.50 ERA in 72 major league innings, 47/28 K/BB, 73 hits and 16 homers allowed; I think he might do better in the bullpen.

Ademar Rifaela, OF .254/.316/.355 in Double-A

*********************

The 2019 list is going to look much different, thanks to trades and the ‘18 draft.

You can expect Yusniel Diaz to top the list, Mountcastle maintaining his spot, Hall moving up, and an aggressive ranking for ‘18 first-rounder Grayson Rodriguez. Trade acquisitions Luis Ortiz and Dillon Tate will also be in the top ten most likely. And there are lots of reasons to like Cedric Mullins.

Outfielder Ryan McKenna has had a breakout season, as has right-hander Dean Kremer. There’s more beyond that group, too.

I know Orioles fans have been disappointed before but the early markers for the rebuild project are promising, especially if they get serious about Latin America.

The ‘19 list isn’t likely to be filled out by Rule 5 picks, in other words.