USA TODAY Sports
Baseball America put our their top 30 Oriole prospects, who is in the last third? In a non-existential sense, does it matter?
To get ready for 2013 minor league season, I thought it would make sense to look at some prospects lists out there. My Baseball America Prospect Handbook was recently mailed to me, so I wanted to take a few minutes to list some of their names and perhaps start a discussion on some of these kids. I cannot say enough though how much I recommend purchasing a handbook if you can. BA gives a ton of quality analysis, at least in my humble opinion. Due to time constraints, I am planning on breaking down the top 30 into thirds, today's review is of prospects ranked 21-30. FYI, ages listed are for the 2013 season, with 6/30 as the cut-off.
#21 is Tsuyoshi Wada, a 32 y/o LHP from Japan. I think this says a lot right here, why is a 32 year old coming off Tommy John surgery on a top 30 prospect list in the first place? Sure enough, BA projected him in a "Troy Patton like role." I am curious to see which of you is Jim Callis? Et tu, jq?
#22 is TJ McFarland, the 23 y/o LHP Rule 5 pick from the Indians. Some perspective on this pick: on BA's podcast after the Rule 5 (free btw), they stated that this pick made a lot of sense since the lefty sinker/slider guy would play to the strengths of the Orioles defense. It's also worth noting that last year's Rule 5 was ranked as the Orioles #7 prospect. So maybe that is some measure of progress. He relies on "command and deception." Those are not necessarily encouraging words, frankly, but Showalter and Duquette know what they are doing, and if they can find a pitcher to match the Orioles strengths, it is hard to question.
#23 is Parker Bridwell, the 21 y/o RHP. He was listed as #4 last year and 2012 was not kind to the Texan. In 114 innings, his K/BB ratio was 71/63. His season ended early. I'm not sure what is wrong with him, but if I had to choose how to allocate my innings, I'm not sure how many innings I would give him.
#24 is Mike Belfiore, a 24 y/o left handed relief prospect acquired for Josh Bell. Belfiore was a pleasure to track last year as you may recall, as he put up impressive numbers for the Baysox: 47 IP, 50/21 K/BB and a 3.43 FIP and lefties OPSed 418 against him. What number did Jesse Orosco wear for the Orioles?
#25 is Lex Rutledge, a 21 y/o LHP sixth rounder in 2012. The Orioles plan on converting the collegiate reliever to a starter, so we'll see. He only pitched 23 innings last year, but his ranking is based on his stuff, which apparently includes a 93 MPH fastball from the left side, which per our friends at Orioles-Nation, tops out at 96.
#26 is Tyler Wilson, 23 y/o RHP drafted in the 10th round of the 2011 draft. BA described him as having the system's "best command," though perhaps they are unaware of the legend of Dylan Bundy. Wilson has "fringy stuff...but succeeds with competitiveness and moxie." Oh how I miss FJM. Anywho, Wilson was quite good as a Key in 2012, with a K/BB of 114/19 in 111 innings and a FIP of 3.42. I have grown wary of seeing pitchers succeed in Frederick only to get rattled in AA, but that K/BB ratio sure is something, eh?
#27 is Brenden Webb, a 23 y/o left handed hitting OF drafted in the 30th round of the 2009 draft. He has put some comical K/BB ratios in the Orioles system, and many of the astute CC members have been tracking him, including Jim Callis apparently. In his write-up, he is compared to David Justice (!). Why did David Justice become a Yankee? Why do they ruin everything? Anyway, back to Webb, in 2011 in his first exposure to Salisbury, he struck out 152 times in 400 at bats while drawing 75 walks. Seemingly a 2 outcome player, if nothing else he has seen a lot of pitches. He finished 2012 in Frederick where he likely will start 2013. He posted an 879 OPS in Salisbury last year.
#28 is 26 y/o RHP Oliver Drake, who was recently removed from the Orioles 40 man roster. He had shoulder surgery last year (death nell?), which is unfortunate obviously, as he showed some promise before the surgery. He threw 18 innings in 2012 before having surgery, so we can hope 2013 is a year of good health and good time for the midshipman.
#29 is 22 y/o right handed hitting Gregory Lorenzo, an OF prospect signed out of some place called the Dominican Republic. BA noted that he is "still learning the strike zone" which given his age does not exactly inspire confidence. He is likely headed to Salisbury in 2013, so he is worth watching. Lorenzo's career minor league OPS is 698, so I'm not sure what to make of his placement on this list. Maybe duck can get his autograph for the blog?
#30 is Ty Kelly, a 24 y/o switch hitting infield/outfield type. 2012 was a great season for Kelly as he was fun to track in the daily ATM. Described as a line drive hitter, he hit in Frederick and Bowie last year, posting a 973 OPS in Frederick and a 797 OPS in Bowie. So it will be interesting to see how he does in Norfolk in 2013. I wonder if he'll be slotted in at second base?
So, what do you think about some of these prospects? I like having a guy like Ty Kelly as a #30 prospect, but when I see guys like Wada and Drake and Bridwell on this list I am not exactly comforted. While they may be a dime a dozen, I feel like LOOGY prospects carry some value with a manager like Buck, and hopefully it affords the opportunity for a guy like Matusz to see if he can start. In some ways, I would feel a lot better about the system if guys in this section were teenagers with some raw materials who lack consistency, rather than young men who could be pursuing masters degrees...
What do you think?