Let's count backwards, for drama! I'm pretty sure nobody around these parts knows who the top 3 Oriole prospects are! Because the third time is the charm, I want to again state how much I recommend purchasing Baseball America's actual prospect handbook on their website or on the little known website known as www.amazon.com. What are you waiting for? All ages below are as of 6/30/13.
So, onto the business at hand!
#10 is 19 y/o right handed hitting Adrian Marin, a shortstop drafted from a Miami prep school in the third round of the 2012 draft. While BA notes his solid "instincts," they also state he has "below average" power. He had a 699 OPS in the GCL last year in 47 games, with a K/BB of 34/11 in 178 ABs. But it's the GCL, so the numbers do not mean much. He is due to begin 2013 in Delmarva, so it will be interesting to see if he can hold his own against pitchers who will be a few years older than him. In some ways, Marin is a reason why I wished the Orioles still had a team in Bluefield.
#9 is 21 y/o rightie Branden Kline, last year's second round pick out of UVA. BA noted that he has an "explosive body with long limbs." Maybe he could sell jeans if the hole baseball thing doesn't work out? Anyway, he has a 95 MPH fastball and a strong slider. The Orioles seem to like converting college relievers to starters, and they are doing the same thing with Kline, so it will be interesting to see how it pans out this time. He threw 12 innings in Aberdeen with a K/BB of 12/4. I assume he is headed to Salisbury as well.
#8 on the list is 23 y/o RHP Mike Wright, 2011's 3rd rounder. BA notes a 90 plus fastball with a slider and a change that need refinement but have potential. Wright spent 2012 in Frederick and Bowie, posting a K/BB of 35/5 in 46.1 IP in Frederick with a FIP of 3.11 and a K/BB of 45/17 in 62.1 IP with a FIP of 4.19. BA states that he is going to Norfolk, rather than Bowie, though I guess a case can be made that he should return to Bowie. I have not watched much spring training, how has he looked?
#7 is 23 y/o left handed hitting OF Xavier Avery, drafted in the 2nd round of the 2008 draft. BA remarks that his power is also "below average," and we all have seen that as we have tracked him as he has progressed in the minors. Avery OPSed 686 in Norfolk (102 games) and 645 in 32 games with the Orioles. BA suggested another scout suggested "wonders if he understands the type of hitter he should be." He is noted as "a plus-plus" runner, but also that his bat must improve to be a fourth outfielder. So that is not exactly encouraging.
#6 is 23 y/o right handed OF LJ Hoes, drafted in the 3rd round of the 2008 draft. The Orioles are "still waiting for his power to arrive." In 82 games in Norfolk, he put up the following slash line: 300/374/397/771 with a K/BB of 43/34 in 317 at bats. There is definitely something to hang your hat on, I think. What do you think of LJ?
#5 is 20 y/o lefty Eduardo Rodriguez signed by Calvin Maduro out of Venezuela in 2010. Faithful ATM readers have been tracking his progress for some time now and in 2012 he posted a 3.68 FIP in 107 innings in Salisbury, with a K/BB of 73/30. BA notes that he has a "lanky" frame (he's 6' 2") with a 90+ fastball, a slider and a change. He took quite a leap in 2012, going from #30 on BA's top 30 to #5. He is definitely someone I am pretty excited about, and hopefully you can see him in Frederick in 2013 if you are in the area.
#4 is 20 y/o infielder Nicky Delmonico who bats left, throws right. His position is something that is not exactly a known known, and that will greatly impact his prospect value. As a 19 y/o in the SALLY, he slashed 249/351/411/762 with a K/BB of 73/47 in 338 at bats. He has a decent walk rate and an impressive ISO. Good signs. His writeup felt pretty generic, noting the need to find a position and his baseball bloodlines (i.e, "baseball IQ"). Outside of his injury, 2012 went about as well as it could have, and he is another worth watching in 2013.
And now for the top 3, of which we all know the order.
#3 is 21 y/o right handed hitting infield prospect Jonathan Schoop. Schoop is currently playing for the Nederlands (since Curacao is a province therein). He battled tendinitis in both knees in 2012, and managed to post the following line for Bowie: 245/324/386/712. He struggled big time in April, and of course he was young for the EL. I assume he will go to Norfolk to start 2013, though it is interesting to see where he will play and what the Buck and Duquette plan on doing with him moving forward, given the age/contract status of Roberts and Hardy. He has been busy in the WBC, and I'm sure it is a thrill for him to be playing in the tournament and doing so well.
#2 is 22 y/o RHP Kevin Gausman, the first rounder in 2012. He sports a "plus plus" fastball, a two seamer and "an easy plus" change up. He pitched in a 5 games between Aberdeen and Bowie in 2012, so it will be interesting to see where he is assigned to start 2013. He is rated as a top 30 overall prospect as you would imagine from a top five pick in the previous year's draft.
#1 is 20 y/o RHP Dylan Bundy. Perhaps you have heard of him. He was pretty ridiculous last year, starting in Delmarva and finishing in Baltimore. I won't bore you with superlatives, and I'm sure you know that he is a top 3 prospect in all of baseball. He hopefully will anchor an Oriole pitching staff for years to come. The big question for 2013 is where he will start.
Looking at the top 10, I come away quite ambivalent. The presence of Hoes and Avery combined with very recent top draft picks seem to be almost an indictment of the Orioles ability (or lack thereof) to develop talent. Hoes and especially Avery did not impress in 2012, and both may project as fungible fourth outfielders. Marin and Kline are recent picks with little track record. Wright is a guy who was average in AA last year. Collectively it feels like there should either higher ceilings or better track records.
Conversely, from 1 to 5, I really am pretty excited about the troupe. Bundy and Gausman are probably the best 1-2 punch of pitching prospects in the minors. Cole and Taillon are also impressive, but these are 4 of the top pitching prospects in the game. Schoop has always been young for his level and has always managed to give prospect watchers reason to believe. He is on the fringes of being a top 100 guy depending on what list you like, with Keith Law liking him more than BA. Rodriguez and Delmonico are young kids who showed something in Delmarva.
What sayeth you?