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Orioles prospect rankings: What the evaluators are saying about O's minor leaguers

Pretty much everybody thinks Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey are going to be good. Who else is there to get excited about in the Orioles farm system? A rundown of the top 10 prospects according to various publications.

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The Orioles have brought a number of key prospects up out of the minor league system and into the majors over the last several years. That's good news for the big league team but not as good news for the farm. When you pull out players like Manny Machado, Kevin Gausman, and Jonathan Schoop, all of whom contributed in big ways to the O's success, it's tough to replace them on the farm right away. That's especially true with the O's not getting a pick until the third round in 2014.

As things stand now, they'll get a chance to re-stock the farm system with the 2015 draft. Though the Orioles won't get their first selection until #26 overall, they will also get four picks out of the first 73 in the draft. The exact spot for each pick depends on how the various qualifying offer free agents sign.

If a team picking 11-25 in the first round signs one of the four remaining draft pick players, the O's will move up a spot. For each of those free agents that signs with a different team, the compensation pick for Nelson Cruz, currently #33 overall, will move down a spot, possibly as low as #37. They'll then have their second round pick at #67 and a competitive balance pick at #73.

All of this is assuming the Orioles don't forfeit their top pick by signing one of the free agents themselves, which would be a surprise, and that the O's don't trade the #73 pick to another team.

While they won't get a crack at any of the draft's top talents, they will get several shots at players with some flaws who they might be able to develop into major leaguers. In 2014, they didn't get to pick until #90 overall.

So what's left in the Orioles minor league system? You probably already know the top two names: Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey. They are the 1-2 on every one of the lists. No surprise there. Here's the rundown:

Baseball Prospectus John Sickels Baseball America MLB.com
1. RHP Dylan Bundy Bundy Bundy Bundy
2. RHP Hunter Harvey Harvey Harvey Harvey
3. C Chance Sisco Sisco Walker Sisco
4. 1B Christian Walker Walker Sisco Walker
5. CF Josh Hart OF Dariel Alvarez Alvarez Hart
6. RHP Zach Davies Berry Davies Berry
7. RHP Mike Wright Davies Berry Wright
8. LHP Tim Berry 3B Jomar Reyes Wright Davies
9. LHP Stephen Tarpley Yastrzemski Yastrzemski RHP Branden Kline
10. OF Mike Yastrzemski LHP Brian Gonzalez Reyes C Michael Ohlman

There are a lot of the same names across the lists: six of the players are on all four lists. There are some differences too: Hart and Alvarez, each ranked #5 on two of the lists, do not appear on the other two lists at all.

The fact that the 3-4 prospects on every list consist of either Sisco, a catcher who hasn't been above Low-A who may not stick at catcher, and Walker, a first baseman who may not be able to hit enough to be a major league first baseman, goes to show how the system is presently thin beyond the top names.

Still, just because there's not top-to-bottom star potential doesn't mean the O's won't be able to find some useful pieces out of this group of lesser-regarded players. Even ending up with a decent bullpen arm is good because it means you don't have to trade for one or sign one.

Never heard of some of these guys? A little thumbnail sketch:

Bundy: Spent season working his way back from Tommy John surgery. "The expectation is with a strong foundation already built and another offseason at his disposal, there's a very strong chance (Bundy) will show big gains this year." (BPro) They rate his potential as a future no. 1 starter.

Harvey: "Harvey has a good understanding of pitching, and he earns praise for his poise on the mound. His development in his first year has given Baltimore another premium starting pitching prospect." (MLB.com) That sounds good! He struck out 106 batters in 87.2 Low-A innings in his first full professional season. That's good too. He dealt with a dreaded flexor mass strain, not so good.

Sisco: He only became a catcher when he was a high school senior. He is two months shy of turning 20. "At this point, an outstanding hitter for average, hit .371 in rookie ball in '13 and .340 in Low-A in '14. Not much home run power yet but that may come; defense also needs polish but tools seem reasonable enough. Upside: All-Star catcher." (Sickels)

Walker: Had a brief stop in MLB after Chris Davis was suspended. "This isn't an aesthetically-pleasing player who's graceful on the field ... what the 23-year-old has proven to do well is hit, and players who do so consistently end up having careers in some capacity or another." (BPro) Don't count him out for 2016 Opening Day first baseman.

Hart: Buck made him do homework in spring training about who is Frank Robinson, which has nothing to do with his prospect status but is still funny. "Hart is a long-term project, especially with the bat ... the speed and potential with the glove give him a chance to ride both tools up to the majors." (BPro) He's only just turned 20 years old in October.

Davies: A former 26th round pick, so any success he gets is cool. "An undersized right-hander who navigates through lineups by changing speeds, working backwards, and spotting on the corners ... a razor thin margin of error, but does possess plus command and an understanding of how to execute within his means." (BPro) May have a future in the bullpen if not back end of the rotation.

Wright: Was on a better trajectory before allowing a 4.61 ERA in the 2014 season at Norfolk. "Throws from a steep downhill angle and uses his fastball's heavy sink to generate ground ball outs." (MLB.com) I love ground ball outs! There is disagreement whether the 6'6" Wright would be better off in the bullpen. You'll note that common thread among this level of starter talent.

Berry: As a former 50th round pick, his ascent is even more improbable than Davies. There isn't even a 50th round any more. "In all likelihood Berry is the type of arm who can get a chance to start early in his career and then makes the transition to the bullpen." (BPro) Hey, that sounds familiar. Everyone loves a left-handed pitcher. Berry is the best and highest placed lefty starter in the O's system.

Tarpley: Third round pick from 2013, Tarpley spent 2014 in Aberdeen. "Inconsistent but athletic with good fastball and curve, finished the season very strongly after some mechanical adjustments." That's from Sickels, who also gives Tarpley sleeper potential. Really, everyone loves a left-handed pitcher!

Yastrzemski: Not on MLB.com's list at all, even if you expand it out to 20 names. Get with the program, guys! "Makeup and feel for the game draw high praise ... realistic outcome points to a fourth outfielder in the long haul who can spell all three regulars and fill in during extended stretches." (BPro) Not written in the BPro profile but will probably be said if he gets a big league career: "gritty". That's an eye-roller of a phrase in general. In the case of Yastrzemski, if he gets to the bigs, he'll have to outperform his raw tools. Maybe he can.

Alvarez: Also not on MLB.com's list even if you expand it out to 20 names. Another lower ceiling but higher floor kind of player. Alvarez is already 26. "A steady output of consistent, hard contact, and the ability to adjust his stroke to the path of the ball ... should be able to help the big club in 2015." (BPro) May be a reason why Dan Duquette isn't making a splash on the outfield market.

Reyes: He is 17 years old, from the Dominican Republic, and spent some time in the Gulf Coast League this year. That's aggressive. "Long way off, but likely the highest-ceiling power bat in the system and he doesn't strike out excessively. Strong throwing arm but will have to watch his size to maintain his range at third base." (Sickels)

There are some interesting names kicking around. We might see a couple of them in 2015, depending on how the offseason plays out. Barring any setbacks, Bundy is the most likely to put a big stamp down with next year's O's.

Yastrzemski and Alvarez might find themselves in the picture based on what the O's do or don't do on the outfield market. If the O's are believers in those two players, that might explain why they have yet to do anything on that front.

Eduardo Rodriguez is the #4 Red Sox prospect. That one is going to sting.