The amateur draft has come and gone and now comes the time of short season ball. The bottom rung of the baseball ladder. Soon, these rosters will fill up with recent draftees and some guys will lose their dream as the rosters are culled. For now, the rosters are made up of past draftees and international signings.
These are guys that are young and trying to break out looking for their first shot at full season ball next season. They have all had some more big league instruction and the Orioles hope that these few short months will prove that that instruction has paid off.
A few of the names are from last years draft. The Orioles in the 2015 draft picked up quite a few high school position players, including Ryan Mountcastle who is tearing up the league at Delmarva, that are populating this Aberdeen roster.
Also, some that have struggled with some injuries and an intriguing international signing or two. Below are five players that are currently on the Aberdeen roster, none of which are 2016 draftees. Alright, lets get into it.
Wells, 19, is one of those few international pick ups the Orioles have and while paying for talent in the Dominican Republic seems to go against their philosophy, not so for Australia. The Orioles spent $300,000 to sign Wells this off season. He has a twin brother, Lachlan, in the Twins organization.
I could not find much information on his arsenal, but the Orioles must have liked him to give him that kind of cash. Back in the spring, MLB.com’s Lindsay Berra wrote about the Wells twins and had this tidbit from an O’s evaluator:
Orioles director of player development Brian Graham would like to see Alexander command his fastball and spin his curve ball a bit more, but velocity is one thing about which Graham is not worried at all.
"With Alex, you like the body, you can see he's going to grow to be a big, strong kid, and his delivery is very pure," Graham said. "I think his velocity will naturally increase, because he has everything correct -- from the mechanics to the delivery to the size."
Wells, a right handed pitcher, did start Opening Night for the Ironbirds and went five innings giving up two runs, four hits, and a walk with four strike outs. Not so bad for a first pitch in professional ball.
Seabrooke, a left handed Canadian pitcher, was actually the 5th round pick all the way back in 2013, but he is still only 20 years old. He has yet to break out of short season ball, but that is partially the fault of a freak ACL tear that put him out for all of 2014. He only threw 8.0 innings in 2013 as well, so going into last year he really had not pitched in two years. He had a 4.95 ERA in Aberdeen over 63.2 innings in 2015.
Not great, but at least he got through the season healthy. Now back in Aberdeen Seabrooke looks to get his career on track. He also has already pitched one game in 2016 going 5.2 innings giving up five hits, one earned run with one walk and two strike outs.
McKenna was the 4th round pick for the Orioles in the 2015 draft. He is a right handed hitting outfielder who plays all over. He only played 10 games, hit for .636 OPS, last season and now he gets a chance to get some real playing time in.
McKenna went to St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Dover, New Hampshire. At only 19 McKenna’s positional versatility and youth give him a shot to really move up some prospect lists if he puts up a good showing in Aberdeen. MLB.com already rates McKenna as the #20 Orioles prospect just for existing.
Another high school position player, Heinrich was drafted a round later than McKenna in the 2015 amateur draft. Heinrich, a right handed batting first baseman, played 45 games in the GCL last season posting a .741 OPS.
However, Heinrich is already 20 years old so he needs a solid performance to shoot him up some prospect lists. A disappointing performance and Heinrich might be staring down another season in Aberdeen at the age of 21 with a waning prospect status.
Lastly, Ferguson—who is also a high school position player—was drafted in the 9th round of the 2015 draft. Ferguson, an outfielder, is only 18 during his second season in pro ball. A big advantage for the young man. He played in 48 games in the GCL last season and only managed a .618 OPS. Once again, a good showing at Aberdeen gives him a chance to see Delmarva next year to really make or break his prospect status.
Those are some names to watch as the season begins. As the 2016 draftees start to sign and trickle in the Aberdeen box scores will be the most interesting to watch in the Orioles system.