Perhaps my favorite part about being a baseball fan is keeping tabs on the Minor Leagues. I am a prospect hugger and I take no shame in saying this. I follow all the big prospect guys on Twitter and I take in as many Penn League games as I can up here in Burlington. One thing I know is that there are plenty of you out there just like me, so this feature is for you.
It is manageable to stay up on your own favorite team’s farm system, but outside of top 100 guys, many of us cannot stay up on the other 29 teams as well. Organizational Outlook is going to take you through each of the 30 teams and get you up to date on their top prospects. So no one can accuse me of having a bias, I’m starting in the American League and working my way through by alphabetical order. This of course means your first Organizational Outlook is the Baltimore Orioles.
Top 10 Prospects
If you are an Orioles fan, there are three big reasons to be excited about the future, and it all starts with Dylan Bundy. Named the 10th best prospect by Baseball America (BA) coming into the season, Bundy was the 4th overall pick in last year’s draft and the first high school player taken. Deemed by many prospect experts as comparable to the trio of college pitchers that were selected before him — Gerrit Cole, Danny Hultzen, and Trevor Bauer — Bundy may have jumped all of them in the eyes of scouts after only 35 professional innings in which he has surrendered just two (!!!) earned runs. While the Orioles have taken some heat for their extremely careful approach to handling the 6’1″ right-hander, it does not appear that much will stand in the way of him possibly making a 2013 big league debut. The stuff is all there — from the fastball which sits 94-98, to the curveball which BA already rates as a plus pitch, to a raved about work ethic — Bundy has all the makings of a future ace. As a bonus fun fact, Bundy’s older brother Robert Bundy is also in the organization and is currently pitching at AA. Though BA did not rank him, Kevin Goldstein has him as the Orioles number six prospect.
Manny Machado would probably be a number one prospect for most other teams, as BA tabbed him as the 11th best prospect this offseason. The third pick in the 2010 draft, Machado has blossomed into one of the premier shortstop prospects in all of the minor leagues. Though some believe he may outgrow the position and move to third someday, the Orioles are sticking with him at short until he proves that move necessary. His .256/.353/.390 line at AA may not jump off the page at you, keep in mind that at 19, he is the youngest player in the Eastern League (which has a reputation as an extremely pitcher friendly league). The fact that he is holding his own against older, advanced competition tells you a lot about his talent.
In the shadow of these two stud prospects is Jonathan Schoop. Signed as an International Free Agent out of Curacao in 2008, Schoop has spent much of his time the last two seasons playing alongside Machado at second base, though BA describes him as having the “arm and hands for any infield spot”. Despite this characterization, they still tag third base as his most likely destination. Again, Schoop’s .248/.305/.329 line may not seem impressive, but the only player younger than him in the Eastern League is Machado. Schoop has shown the ability to rake at previous levels, hitting .290/.349/.432 while splitting last season between A and A+.
The Rest of the Top 10 (according to BA):
Parker Bridwell – RHP – 6’4″/190
Bridwell was a 2010 ninth round draft pick out of high school in Texas. The numbers have not been there so far, as there have apparently been some mechanical issues to work on. He is repeating low-A Delmarva this season.
2012: 2-3, 4.87 ERA, 44.1 IP, 45 H, 29 K, 21 BB
L.J. Hoes – OF/2B – 6’1″/181
A third round draft pick out of high school in 2008, Hoes has primarily seen time at second base and in left field during his career. It seems like his fate as an everyday player will on depend how well his power develops. At the very least, Hoes has shown the versatility to be a utility player. He is currently at AA Bowie.
2012: .271/.372/.383, 219 PA, 2 HR, 11 SB, 29 BB, 31 K
Nicky Delmonico – 1B/3B – 6’2″/196
Another high school pick, Delmonico was a sixth round pick out of Knoxville, Tennessee. The left-handed hitter is seeing his first taste of pro action at low-A Delmarva, where he is more than holding his own. Scouts love his swing, but his range in the infield may mean his future is at first base.
2012: .266/.355/.424, 203 PA, 5 HR, 3 SB, 22 BB, 39 K
Ryan Flaherty – UTIL – 6’3″/220
Originally selected as a supplemental first rounder by the Cubs out of Vanderbilt in 2008, Flaherty came to the Orioles via the Rule Five draft in September. As a result, he has spent the year coming off the bench for the big league team. While not technically a prospect anymore, Flaherty has shown decent power throughout his minor league career.
2012: .143/.173/.204, 53 PA, 1 HR, 0 SB, 1 BB, 17 K
Jason Esposito – 3B – 6’2″/185
Another Vanderbilt product, Esposito was also drafted in the seventh round by the Royals out of high school. The Orioles made him their second round pick last year and have assigned him to low-A Delmarva. Esposito reportedly has gap power, but has struggled making the adjustment to pro pitching so far.
2012: .243/.319/.312, 210 PA, 1 HR, 4 SB, 18 BB, 42 K
Xavier Avery – OF – 5’11″/180
A Georgia native, the Orioles drafted Avery in the second round of the 2008 draft. The hope is that his plate approach develops to the point where he can be a leadoff hitter, as he has excellent speed. Avery is playing quite well so far at AAA Norfolk.
2012: .273/.373/.469, 153 PA, 5 HR, 8 SB, 20 BB, 29 K
Dan Klein – RHP – 6’2″/190
It appeared that Klein could be a fast track reliever when the Orioles drafted him out of UCLA in 2010, but shoulder injuries have kept that from happening. He had surgery to repair a small tear in his labrum and loosen his shoulder capsule last August. If he gets healthy, there are still high expectations for him as a reliever.
2011 (A+/AA): 3-0, 1.11 ERA, 32.1 IP, 23 H, 37 K, 6 BB
With the draft only five days away, mock drafts are up and running. While Jim Callis of BA has the Orioles “leaning more towards arms than bats,” Keith Law of ESPN says that they “want the best player available, period”. As a result, Callis currently projects (subscription only) the O’s to take LSU righty Kevin Gausman while Law has them taking (subscription only) Carlos Correa, a shortstop in the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy (though he did say he could also see Gausman at four). The Orioles have hit it big with Bundy and Machado in their previous two drafts, and while this draft class is not nearly as deep as last year’s, the top end talent is still very good.
Questions, comments, or suggestions are welcome both in the comments section and on Twitter (@bgeary8).