SCOTTSDALE AZ - OCTOBER 20: Bryce Harper was cropped out of this picture which features Oliver Drake in hopes of creating animosity between the Orioles and the Nationals. You're welcome. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
MuchO GustO now turns to the starters!
Dylan Bundy: well, given the amount of money he signed for, here's hoping he's really good. He didn't pitch professionally this year, and I think his FIP was below zero in Oklahoma.
Bobby Bundy: I was a little perplexed as to why there is not more buzz for him, but I think the primary reasons are in the peripherals. In Frederick, the 21 year old right hander had a 2.75 ERA in 121 innings. However, his FIP was 3.45 and his K/9 ratios weren't that impressive compared to the rest of the Carolina League (7.4 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 respectively). Even still, he came in as a top 10 prospect according to some (FanGraphs), and certainly didn't regress. MiLB interview with him, which was pretty interesting as he talks about his plan of pitching to contact in hopes of going deeper into games.
Oliver Drake: Another nice story for the Keys was Oliver Drake, a name that might ring a bell due to his recent addition to the 40-man roster. The 24 year old right hander got himself on the radar by putting up some strong numbers in the Carolina League, posting a 2.14 ERA (2.39 FIP) with the secret of his success being an impressive 1.7 BB/9 in 96.2 innings with 7.4 K/9. He struggled in Bowie a bit, as his walk rate doubled and his FIP ballooned to 4.89 in 64 innings. Our friends over at Oriole Nation indicate that he is a fastball/slider guy and his chances remaining as a starter hinge on his ability to develop an effective changeup.
Parker Bridwell: Bridwell is 6'4" 190 lb righty. As a 19 year old in Aberdeen, he posted a 3.17 FIP with 9.6 K/9 and a 3.7 BB/9 in 53.2 innings. His K/9 in the NY Penn League was solid, especially for a 19 year old. In that league, using a threshold of 50 innings (for a short season league), he was 4th in K/9 and is younger than the 3 in front of him. He struggled a bit in Delmarva. He started and finished the season in Salisbury and while his ERA was Matusz-esque (7.06), it's worth noting that his FIP was a not terribly discouraging 4.27. He should return to Delmarva in 2012, but I am pretty encouraged by the Texan. Here is an MiLB interview. "Trees and green stuff," I hope duck will appreciate this.
More below the jump!
Matt Hobgood: I know that some hold out hope for him, but 2011 was an utter disaster. 37 innings across the GCL and Aberdeen and an 8.76 ERA to show for it. So that went well.
Steve Johnson: Johnson had a really difficult time in Norfolk this year to the tune of 5.57 ERA for the Tides (4.59 FIP). I think what discourages me about him is the flyball tendency which likely makes him a bad fit for the Orioles. It is worth noting that he tossed 24.1 solid innings in the AFL, but his GB/FB was fairly consistent with his time in Norfolk. The 24 year old did pitch well in Bowie but you would hope so given that he has seen action in Bowie in 2009 and 2010 prior to his demotion this year.
Mike Wright: 3rd rounder out of East Carolina, the 21 year old right hander had a 3.48 FIP in Aberdeen and a solid GB/FB ratio of 2.33. He is a tall drink of water, 6'5" 195 pounds. John Manuel projected him to be a set up reliever because he needs to refine his secondary offerings, but being able to throw 96 is pretty nice. He started exclusively for the iBirds, but in 4 appearances for the Shorebirds, 3 came out of the pen. I will be curious to see if he starts in Delmarva next year, and frankly with Jarret Martin no longer being an Oriole, it makes it easier for some of the other guys to get innings.
David Baker: Baker was a 14th rounder in 2009 (Hobgood) really came out of nowhere this year. In 2010 in a mere 13 innings, he posted a 7.90 ERA in Bluefield. 2011 was a different story for the 20 year old righthander, as he totaled 80 innings between Aberdeen and Salisbury, posting ERAs of 2.45 and 2.82 (FIP: 2.76 and 3.30). While he did strikeout 71 in those 80 innings, his GB/FB ratio of 0.52 in Delmarva is reason to wonder if he will be the next Steve Johnson.
Trent Howard: the lefty out of Central Michigan was a 7th rounder in the 2011 draft and pitched 41.1 innings with a 3.48 ERA (2.64 FIP), striking out 45 and walking 14. He left the iBirds early (August 30th) to return to Central Michigan for the fall semester. I think that's cool, and I'm pretty sure he was concerned about my opinion.
Kyle Simon: Simon was the 4th round pick this year. While he didn't start in any of his 14 appearances combined between Aberdeen and Salisbury, that likely was due to throwing 119 innings for the University of Arizona. He really is a "ground ball specialist," as he put up a 4.57 GB/FB ratio in those 16.2 innings, striking out 9 and walking 5. So he will be another one to watch in Salisbury next year.
Matt Bywater: Bywater is a 22 year old southpaw former 7th rounder, who tossed 45.1 innings for Delmarva this year with an ERA of 3.77 (but a FIP of 4.59), striking out 51 but walking 32. Orioles-nation indicate struggles to be consistent with his delivery, with bear out with the troublesome BB/9. I seem to remember him being an overslot, so I've been tracking him. Next year will go along way to determine if he can be viewed as a potential starter or a reliever.
Jake Cowan: Pitching in Aberdeen and Delmarva, the 23 year old right hander struck out 78 in 82.2 innings with an ERA of 3.92, though it's worth noting that his FIPs were stronger, 3.33 in 48.1 innings in Aberdeen, a 3.44 FIP in 34.1 innings as a Shorebird.
Eduardo Rodriguez: I wanted to put Eduardo and a few others in the good category, but it's important that he spent most of the year in the GCL, and really those numbers are not indicative of much. Nonetheless, the 18 year old southpaw posted a 2.63 FIP in Sarasota and a 9.3 K/9 in 44.2 innings.
Jaime Esquivel: a 28th rounder in the 2010 draft, the right handed Esquivel was not on many radar screens coming into 2011. But he fared very well in the GCL, striking out 39 in 47.1 innings, walking 15 but posting 0.95 ERA with a FIP of 3.35.
Miguel Chalas was another member of that GCL rotation, a 19 year old Dominican who put up a 2.93 ERA in the GCL (2.65 FIP) in 46 innings, striking out 42 and walking 8.
Cam Coffey: the 20 year old lefty, a 22nd round pick in 2009, he pitched 36.2 innings in the GCL, striking out 26 and walking 8 while recording a 2.21 ERA with a 2.65 FIP.
In sum, the Orioles really don't have much on the immediate horizon in terms of starting pitching prospects. I like the elder Bundy but his peripherals are not exactly the stuff of a top of the rotation starter. Oliver Drake is compelling, but he was not on the radar 12 months ago and there are reasons for that. Unfortunately there really was not very much prospect wise above Delmarva, despite the playoff runs in Frederick and Bowie as they were mainly fueled by older minor leaguers. I know we shouldn't make much of stats below Frederick, but I genuinely am encouraged by a number of arms in Aberdeen and in the GCL. Of course, it's also true that those kids are just shiny and new, but still there are some reasons for hope when you combine some of the strong performers in Aberdeen and the GCL with Dylan Bundy and a kid I didn't mention in Zach Davies (an overslot high schooler in the most recent draft, making Sickels' list as well as Fangraphs' despite not pitching professionally in 2011...he's been compared to Mike Leake but that might be just an easy comparison since he was supposed to go to the University of Arizona which is where Leake went to school).