MuchO GustO: Minor Gains

Do you know, Stu, grasshopper? Be like Stu.

At the start of the season, Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado were named the top two prospects in the system by a comfortable margin as well as among the best in the nation and they have not disappointed. There is a constant discussion as to the state of the Orioles system, and while no ultimate opinions of that magnitude (pop! pop!) are rendered here, dfa, PBR me ASAP and myself thought we'd take a look at some of this season's better performances, surprising performances as well as some downers. We will check in again in August and again at the end of the year.

These are not scientifically derived rankings, just observations and are by no means intended to be comprehensive.

Some of the Best

Johnny Ruettiger: LIttle Rudy was drafted as a toolsy, college outfielder with a patient approach, but only walked 6 times in 85 PAs in his abbreviated debut at Delmarva last year. He got off to a hot start in the Sally League this year and hasn't slowed down yet since his promotion to Frederick. Across two levels this year, he has 17 steals, 22 walks and a .383 OBP. (jqh)

Eduardo Rodriguez: The 19 year old Venezuelan has been impressive in his first year of full season ball. He's yet to allow a home run and is inducing ground balls at a rate of 51%. He's not missing many bats, but his walk rate has declined from April to May and his strikeout rate improved in that same period. (jqh)

Mike Wright: Picked in the 3rd round last year out of East Carolina, Wright made short order of Class A Carolina League hitters. Over 8 games started Wright pitched 46.1 innings, allowing 47 hits (3 of which were home runs), 5 walks, and 15 earned runs while striking out 35. His line of a 2.91 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 7.0 K/BB rate earned him a promotion to AA Bowie, where he is now roughly 2 years younger than the average aged competition. Though he has scuffled in his first two starts in Bowie he's still on a fast track to the big leagues, and could see some action in the bullpen come September. (PBR)

Nick Delmonico: Delmonico has been pretty awesome in his first two months of professional baseball. .269/.358/.421 is pretty impressive. Still only 19, Delmonico has more than held his own vs. Sally League pitchers, who, on average, maintain nearly 2 years of age on him. In fact, Delmonico is the 7th youngest player in the SALLY, and of those 7 young bucks, he has the second best OPS. There is a lot to like about Delmonico's game so far. He needs a little work with the glove and against lefties, but hopefully those 2 things can be improved with repetition. BA stated that "he may struggle there [the SALLY] at first," in the prospect handbook. Well, if this is struggling... (dfa, PBR)

Pleasant Surprises

Xavier Avery: In 38 AAA games this season, he has posted a K/BB of 35/24 in 157 at bats with a .268/.358/.433 line. His K% does not really jump out at me, but a .165 ISO sure does. He had 5 extra base hits in his cup of coffee with the Orioles. (dfa)

Brenden Webb: 30th round pick out of Palomar Junior College in California, Webb has been performing admirably thus far as a 22 year old for Delmarva. Although this is Webb's second stint in Delmarva he is still age-appropriate for the level. Hitting .245/.402/.448 with 20 of his 40 hits going for extra bases, while maintaining a decent 42:63 BB:K ratio. I'd imagine a promotion to High A Fredrick will occur in short order. Hopefully the O's have found themselves a little gem in the late rounds of the draft. (PBR)

The Bullpen: Stu Pomeranz and Miguel Gonzalez. Just...wow. After bouncing around four other organizations due to various issues of 'want' or lack thereof, Stu signed on with the O's in February. Over 23.1 IP between Bowie and Norfolk, Disco Stu allowed 9 hits, 2 walks, and no earned runs. Out of 81 batters faced Stu K'd 35 of them. Pretty sweet ratio. Stu's services were summoned to the bigs on May 6th, and it appears as though the O's have found a solid piece for the bullpen. Future closer? Time will tell.

Miguel Gonzalez also bounced around a few organizations before signing on with the O's. He cut his teeth in the Angels and Red Sox systems between 2005 and 2011, always demonstrating strong K/9 rates along with elevated BB/9 rates. But he seems to have found a balm for his previous BB problems as he has thus far this year cut his BB/9 rate nearly in half from his '10-'11 performance. 30 IP in Norfolk has resulted in 36 Ks, while only yielding 5 BBs. Like his bullpen stable mate Disco Stu, Miguel was called up to the bigs about a week ago now. (PBR)

That's a Bummer, Man

Parker Bridwell: Talked up as one of the better pitchers in the O's system during the offseason. He is still young for his contemporaries in the Sally League, but this is Parker's second year at Delmarva and he has scuffled all the while. Over 47.2 IP this year he sports a 6.23 ERA and a 1.64 WHIP. He has allowed 5 HRs to complement his 26 BBs, 7 wild pitches, 7 hit batters His 1 balk is just the icing on the cake. BA compared him to a right handed Zach Britton, but so far his GB/FB ratio is 1.24, whereas Zach's GB/FB ratio in Delmarva was 3.02. (PBR, dfa)

Jonathan Schoop: (The "panel" thought that to varying degrees, Schoop could be considered a disappointment, but is still mindful of his age relative to the rest of the league) For the season, Schoop is batting .244/.306/.324. What is very discouraging is how much more Schoop is striking out (38 in 176 AB, almost 20% versus 13% last year). His his walk percentage stands at 7.7% which is not too too awful or out of sync with his previous totals, so it does seem like he is overmatched. You have to wonder if 300 at bats in Frederick weren't enough to prepare him for AA. It is worth noting that according to firstinning.com, his Line Drive% is at 23%, which is higher than career marks, though SSS applies and even more so with minor league data. Still though, he may be getting more unlucky than we know or are able to know at this point. (dfa)

Jason Esposito: Esposito came in as #8 coming into 2012. I figured that the 21 y/o right handed corner IF 2nd round pick for 2011 would do quite well in Delmarva and hopefully warrant promotion to the more age appropriate Carolina League by late June. For the first 2 months, Esposito is batting .232, along with an OBP/SLG of .303/.295. He was supposed to have a lot of power in his bat. I'm not sure what the deal is, for all I know he is hiding some injury, but a 21 y/o with an ISO of .063 screams org guy to me, which of course would be a huge disappointment for a second round draft pick. (dfa)

Bobby Bundy: BTE was supposed to take a leap forward this year, but thus far, appears to have taken a step back. At present, he is posting his lowest career K/9 in his second crack at the Eastern League. While not exactly old for his level, he's not really young and it will be kind of sad (but also kind of awesome) when his baby brother inevitably passes him this summer...and maybe the perception of the elder Bundy suffers by comparison. (jqh)

The Walking Wounded: Of course, the inability of Tyler Townsend, Dan Klein and Trent Mummey to stay healthy is a bummer. They were all high draft picks with upside that have all shown flashes of solid play when they've been healthy. (jqh)

Mychal Givens: A 2nd round pick in 2009 (Hobgood draft), Givens has never adjusted to hitting. He showed signs of a possible renaissance during winter ball, but is presently sporting a .230/.345/.297 slash line in his second go around in Delmarva. Rumors are beginning to percolate of him being converted to a pitcher in an attempt to salvage some value out of him. With Manny and Schoop appearing to be the future of the middle infield it would seem a wise course of action. (PBR)

On the Horizon...

Short Season Leagues: Many players from last year's draft, this year's draft and the developmental leagues will have a bunch of games under their belts when we next look at

Gabriel Lino: Willed himself on to the map of many talent evaluators with a blistering April, but was ice cold in May. What's next?

Clayton Schrader: Unbelievable K rate (44 K/28.2 IP). Can he bring down his walks (20/28.2 IP)?

Oliver Drake: Hurt for most of the year, but his first few starts back have been encouraging...ans now he's back on the DL.

(firstinning.com and baseball-reference.com were consulted in drafting this story)
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