MuchO GustO: middle infielders

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 30: Ryan Adams #6 of the Baltimore Orioles is shaving creamed by Adam Jones after driving in the winning run in the tenth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 30, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. Baltimore won the game 6-5. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

MuchO GustO now shifts to the middle infield! The Orioles are set for 3 years with JJ Hardy at short, but questions remain at second. Robert Andino provides depth at second in 2012. Giving Matt Antonelli a spot on the 40 man says a lot about Brian Roberts' recovery, but let's turn our attention to the kids on the farm. Who else can help?

The good:

Manny Machado: Machado is our wunderkind. Coming into 2011, Machado was the 14th best prospect after being picked 3rd overall in the 2010 draft. Machado was a world beater in the SALLY, right up there with Jurickson Profar as far as one of the best SS prospects in the game. He obliterated Salisbury with an 859 OPS before being promoted to Frederick where he performed as much as you could expect an 18 year old could do, posting an 692 OPS. While that certainly isn't Harper-esque, it is worth noting that he was doing this against competition 3 or 4 years older than him. Defensively reports were that he has the instincts of a middle infielder, though there is some question if he will get moved to third base. He will likely see Bowie in 2012, but it is an open question as to when that will be. It is pretty clear that Machado is Hardy's heir apparent, and hopefully Hardy's deal with diminish any pressure to fast track Machado.

Jonathan Schoop: Machado was promoted along with Jonathan Schoop who will likely appear on BA's top 100 this spring. The Curacao native broke out in Salisbury this year with an OPS of 890 before being moved to Frederick as well, where he OPSed 704 as a 19 year old. He doesn't receive the glowing defensive reviews that Machado receives, and it looks like he will be given the second base job in Frederick to being 2012 along side Machado. It will be interesting to see where his power is in the Carolina next year, but you have to feel good about his 2011 season. What I don't understand about Schoop is the position issue. He was given most of his starts at second this year in Frederick. If the organization thinks he can play third, does it make more sense to play him at third, or keep him at second until he proves he can't play there?

Ryan Adams: The 24 y/o can hit the ball. He built on his 2010 OPS at Bowie of 829 with an arguably more impressive OPS of 794 in Norfolk. Harbor Park is more of a pitcher's park, so the downturn in OPS should not be overblown. The real question with Adams is whether he can play the position effectively defensively. I think he provides enough bat to warrant a chance as a solid contributor in 2012, but there is no use in him riding the pine. He seems like a Todd Walker type to me, so hopefully his bat can hold up in the majors enough to overcome potential shortcomings with the glove.

More below the jump!

The bad:

Mychal Givens: The 21 y/o former second round pick regressed in Delmarva in 2011. He OPSed 488. Demoted to Aberdeen, he played better, OPSing 698. Given that he is more raw than other SS prospects, the numbers don't tell the whole story, but it is difficult to look past his age and OPS and not come to the conclusion that 2011 was a lost year for him. It's too early to close the book on him, but 2012 is put up or shut up in Delmarva.

The meh:

Greg Miclat: In 2011, the 23 y/o went 50 for 53 in stolen bases. Conversely, his slugging percentage in 182 AA games is 336. Short of finding a time machine and sending him to the Cardinals organization to replace Tom Herr, I'm not sure where he fits.

Pedro Florimon: Following the 2009 season, Pedro Florimon was something of a prospect, posting a 764 OPS in the Carolina League in his then age 22 season, which was good for 39th in the League. He played most of 2010 in Frederick again, and improved his OPS to the tune of 785. However, he didn't fare that well in Bowie, posting an OPS of 483 in only 37 games. Returning to Bowie in 2011, the 24 year old posted the following slash line: 267/344/396/741. He did walk 51 times in 520 plate appearances, but at 25, not yet in AAA, and between Hardy and Machado, it is uncertain what role he can carve out with the Orioles.

Jerome Pena: the 22 year old 38th round pick in 2011 out of TCU, the switch hitting second baseman displayed some solid patience for the GCL Orioles, putting up this slash line: 266/364/362/725. His slash line reveals an impressive walk rate (26 walks in 212 plate appearances). Given his age, one would think he will be paired up with Mychal Givens in Salisbury next year.

Overall, if JJ Hardy can be healthy for the next 2 seasons, the SS position should be ready for Machado by 2014. In a best case scenario, Hardy has 2 strong campaigns and becomes a valuable trading chit for Duquette. Second base is less certain. In the short term, I am not really sure what Brian Roberts can be for the Orioles going forward. I'm something of a fan of Ryan Adams, and I would like to see his bat in the majors. I'm concerned about his defense, and there was the issues in Frederick a few years ago. Hopefully that's behind him. I like Andino as well, but I think his versatility in some ways hurts him, or at least allows him to rotate between third, short and second, allowing Adams to get a lot of playing time.

Ultimately though, this organization needs Machado and Schoop to deliver. I know there are supporters of Greg Miclat out there, but I don't see how being a pinch runner is enough at the major league level. The only thing that Miclat's time in Bowie taught me was that the Orioles don't think much of LJ Hoes prospects as a second baseman.

What do you think?

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