Baltimore Orioles Top 10 Prospects Rankings, Spring Forecasts

Mike RosenbaumMLB Prospects Lead WriterFebruary 27, 2013

Baltimore Orioles Top 10 Prospects Rankings, Spring Forecasts

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    The overall quality of the Baltimore Orioles’ farm system took a major hit last season with the graduation of Manny Machado, a consensus top-10 preseason prospect, to the major leagues. Luckily, the team still boasts baseball’s top pitching prospect, right-hander Dylan Bundy, who reached the major leagues in his professional debut last September after opening the year with Low-A Delmarva.

    Beyond Bundy, the Orioles’ system is top-heavy with arms, but does house two more top-100 prospects in right-hander Kevin Gausman and infielder Jonathan Schoop, both of whom are on pace to reach the major leagues over the next two years.

    The Orioles do have some depth on the mound, though they need one of their less-heralded arms, such as Eduardo Rodriguez, Mike Wright and Branden Kline, to exceed expectations next season.

    Here’s a look at the Baltimore Orioles’ top 10 prospects headed into the 2013 season.

     

    Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.

10. Xavier Avery, OF

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 1/1/1990 (Age: 23)

    Height/Weight: 6’, 190

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2008 (Cedar Grove HS, Calif.)

    ETA: 2013

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes

    Avery spent most of the 2012 season up and down between Triple-A Norfolk and the major leagues. He batted .223/.305/.340 in 32 games with the Orioles, which wasn’t far removed from his .236/.330/.356 in 102 games at Triple-A Norfolk.

    He is an excellent athlete with the speed and range to handle center field, although his reads still appear shaky.

    Avery has always possessed the raw tools and athleticism but has never bridged the gap between them and his baseball-specific skill set. He has the bat speed to hit quality pitching but lacks a consistent approach and needs to know how to make more in-game adjustments.

    He struggles to recognize breaking balls out of the zone and also gets out on his front foot too often to flail at pitches that should be discernible balls.

     

    Spring Training Forecast

    After reaching the major leagues last season, Avery will likely compete for a bench spot this spring.

     

    2013 Outlook

    Barring an injury to one of the Orioles’ outfielders, Avery will head back to Triple-A to begin the season. Much like last season, the 23-year-old will likely to serve as a fill-in or fourth outfielder in the major leagues.

9. Adrian Marin, SS

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    Position: SS

    DOB: 3/8/1994 (Age: 18)

    Height/Weight: 6’, 165

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Third round, 2012 (Gulliver Prep HS, Fla.)

    ETA: 2016

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes

    The 6’, 165-pound shortstop had a solid pro debut (.286/.340/.352) last season in 53 games between the rookie-level Gulf Coast League and Low-A Delmarva. He is a hard-nosed ballplayer with excellent instincts.

    His plus speed gives him above-average range at shortstop, and his quick feet allow him to swiftly get through ground balls. He has more than enough arm strength to remain at the position.

    The big question is whether his bat will develop. He has strong wrists with good bat speed and hand-eye coordination, but his swing is too armsy without a significant weight transfer. His plate discipline was shaky as expected. His below-average power is realistic, but he should tally his share of doubles and triples.

    He is a smart base stealer who could swipe 30-plus per season if his on-base skills improve, His bat will determine how quickly he moves through system.

     

    Spring Training Forecast

    Invited to big league spring training in his first full year with the Orioles, Marin should get some at-bats early before an assignment to a minor league camp.

     

    2013 Outlook

    Marin is likely headed for Low-A after finishing there last season; a full year at the level should be instrumental toward his overall development.

8. L.J. Hoes, OF

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 3/5/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’, 190

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Third round, 2008 (St. John’s HS, Washington, D.C.)

    ETA: 2013

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes

    Hoes has gradually moved up the organizational ladder, but he finally put everything together last season and was named the organization’s minor league hitter of the year after batting .287/.372/.388 between Double and Triple-A.

    He is a right-handed hitter who understands how to use the entire field, although a majority of his hits are singles. His power is yet to materialize, which is the only thing holding him back. His plate discipline continues to improve and pads his on-base percentage.

    Hoes is fast but isn’t explosive in his actions. He’s a smooth runner with above-average range, although it takes him a few additional steps to reach full speed.

    He would suffice in center field in a pinch, but his range and arm are better suited for a corner spot. The only question is whether he’ll have enough power to justify an everyday role; if not, he’s still a solid fourth outfielder.

     

    Spring Training Forecast

    Along with teammate Xavier Avery, Hoes will be battling for a roster spot, albeit on the Orioles bench, over the course of the spring. 

     

    2013 Outlook

    Due to his above-average speed and mature on-base skills, Hoes is more likely to break camp with Orioles than Avery. However, there’s a strong chance that they both return to Triple-A to open the 2013 season. 

7. Mike Wright, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 1/3/1990 (Age: 23)

    Height/Weight: 6’5”, 195

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Third round, 2011 (East Carolina)

    ETA: 2014

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes

    Wright is a 6’5”, 195-pound right-hander with a physical and durable frame. He reached Double-A in his first full season as a professional, registering a 4.91 ERA over 12 starts. He delivers a low-to-mid-90s fastball on a good downward plane. His pitch loses life when left up in the zone and is seemingly easy to drive.

    Wright has three secondary pitches in a curveball, changeup and slider, with the latter being the more consistent and effective of the three. If he can improve his overall command, the 22-year-old right-hander could serve as a solid No. 3 or 4 starter in the major leagues.

     

    Spring Training Forecast

    Along with a host of other young starting pitchers, Wright will be auditioning for a potential late-season role with the Orioles.

     

    2013 Outlook

    Wright will head back to Double-A to begin the year, although his feel for four pitches could move him up the organizational ladder quickly.

6. Branden Kline, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 9/29/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 195

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2012 (Virginia)

    ETA: 2014

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes

    If you can look past his robotic tendencies on the mound—a product of his collegiate career at Virginia—Kline seemingly has untapped potential. He may take him some time to develop as he’ll need to add fluidity to his delivery, as well as more explosiveness in general. He has good stuff, and I like how his arm works but it’ll be interesting to track how he responds to the imminent mechanical alterations.

    Kline’s fastball sits at a consistent 92 to 96 mph but will flatten out when elevated. He might be a guy who benefits from adding some sink to his fastball. His slider is his best pitch and is especially effective when the heater is around the plate. His changeup is a fringy pitch at the moment and will ultimately determine whether he remains a starter or moves to the bullpen. 

     

    Spring Training Forecast

    Although he offers more value as a starting pitcher, expect the Orioles to challenge Kline in late-inning scenarios this spring, where his plus fastball-slider combination could be a major weapon.

     

    2013 Outlook

    After a brief appearance in the New York-Penn League last season, Kline will make the jump to a full-season level in 2013. If he shows enough progress over the first half of the season, the right-hander could be fast-tracked to the major leagues as a reliever.

5. Nick Delmonico, 1B-3B

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    Position: 1B

    DOB: 7/12/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 196

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted/Signed: Sixth round, 2011 (Farragut HS, Tenn.)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes

    Delmonico has an excellent baseball bloodline, but he already has a slightly concerning injury history with back problems (2011) and a left-knee sprain (2012). His 6’2”, 196-pound frame should mature favorably.

    He played 51 of 94 games at first base in his professional debut and also received significant playing time at second base. I hate the early relegation to first base, which only puts more pressure on his bat. His offensive ceiling would be more valuable if he played at third base. His health will continue to determine where he plays.

    The left-handed hitter exhibits advanced plate discipline (73/47 K/BB in 338 at-bats in 2012) given his lack of experience, which should help the development of his hit tool in coming years. He has a clear feel for the strike zone with the ability to make in-game adjustments. He sees the ball well out of the pitcher’s hand and spits on off-speed pitches out of the zone.

    He is still learning how to utilize his slightly above-average raw power. His swing can get long and enable too many swing-and-misses, but it has some loft with extension after contact.

     

    Spring Training Forecast

    Delmonico will head to minor league spring training with the goal of fine-tuning his swing and improving his projection as a third baseman. 

     

    2013 Outlook

    The 20-year-old will open the year at High-A and could even reach Double-A if he can stay healthy for a majority of the season.

4. Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP

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    Position: LHP

    DOB: 4/7/1993 (Age: 19)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 175

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted/Signed: Jan., 2010 (Venezuela)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes

    The 19-year-old left-hander made an impressive full-season debut in 2012 for Low-A Delmarva (3.70 ERA, .243 BAA).

    His 6’2”, 175-pound frame is highly projectable with plenty of room to mature physically. His wiry arms and upper body create deception in his unique delivery, which he was able to repeat with more consistency last season. I really like how his arm works as the ball jumps out of his hand with ease.

    Rodriguez enjoyed a jump in his fastball velocity last season, as he’ll now sit in the low-90s and occasionally pop 94 to 95 mph.

    His secondary pitches are understandably raw and lag behind his heater, though both flash the potential to be above-average offerings. His slider is difficult to recognize out of his hand and is sharper when he throws it with increased velocity. A changeup is present but in the nascent stages.

    He has No. 3 or 4 starter upside at the moment—possibly more if he can refine control and command and miss more bats.

     

    Spring Training Forecast

    Participating in his first major league spring training, Rodriguez will have a chance to showcase his live arm in front of the entire organization. 

     

    2013 Outlook

    After a strong showing at Low-A last season, Rodriguez may receive consideration for a bump to Double-A to begin the year. Regardless, he’ll at least begin the season in the High-A starting rotation.

3. Jonathan Schoop, IF

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    Position: IF

    DOB: 10/16/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 195

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Aug., 2008 (Curacao)

    ETA: 2014

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes

    Schoop spent his entire age-20 season at Double-A Bowie, where he was challenged. His power began to develop as he amassed 24 doubles and 14 home runs. Defensive versatility on the infield could get him to the major leagues ahead of schedule. He displays smooth footwork and defensive actions thanks to good instincts.

    He has played both second base and shortstop, where he makes the plays, but he lacks the agility and quick feet. Solid glove and arm strength at each position are apparent. He will likely lose a step as he adds strength, which suggests third base may be the best fit for him in the major leagues.

    It's important not to read too far into his 2012 stats given his age relative to level.

    He understands how to attack pitches and is comfortable driving the ball the other way. The ball jumps off his bat, and he showcased the ability to generate more backspin carry last season.

    Both his approach and pitch recognition skills leave something to be desired, but they should improve with more experience. He has a tendency to bar his front arm and wrap the bat, making him vulnerable to premium velocity on his hands. His hit and power tool both have above-average potential.

     

    Spring Training Forecast

    Regarded as the Orioles’ second baseman of the future, Schoop will receive an extended look at the keystone this spring, though it’s doubtful he’ll make the Opening Day roster. 

     

    2013 Outlook

    After holding his own as one of the younger players at Double-A in 2012, the Orioles may assign him back to that level to begin the season with the potential for a September call-up. 

2. Kevin Gausman, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 1/6/1991 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 185

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2012 (Louisiana State)

    ETA: 2014

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes

    After Gausman was selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft, his workload was limited during his professional debut after a long and strenuous college season. Overall, the right-hander registered a 3.60 ERA with 13/1 K/BB in 15 innings over two levels and finished the season at High-A Frederick.

    He has an excellent power pitcher’s frame at 6’4” and 185 pounds, with room to fill out. He displays wiry athleticism. He repeats active delivery, maintains balance throughout and knows how to use his lower half. He doesn’t rely on pure arm strength as much as he once did.

    He is a collegiate pitcher who still involves projection. He shows loose, fluid arm action, but some effort is involved.

    His fastball velocity is easily in the mid-90s, and he can run it up to 97-98 mph on occasion. His two-seamer is a few ticks slower but features more arm-side action, which offers nice contrast to crisp his four-seamer. His changeup is in the low to mid-80s is a second plus pitch.

    Highly advanced for his age, he mixes in a curveball and slider—the latter draws more whiffs and projects to be an above-average pitch. His refined command could make it a weapon in relation to his fastball-changeup combo.

     

    Spring Training Forecast

    Despite his minimal professional experience, Gausman could quietly compete for a spot in the Orioles’ Opening Day rotation.

     

    2013 Outlook

    A long-shot to break camp with Orioles, Gausman is likely ticketed for Double-A with a strong chance of reaching the major leagues by September—if not earlier.

1. Dylan Bundy, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 11/15/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 195

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (Oswasso HS, Okla.)

    ETA: 2013

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes

    The unanimous top pitching prospect in the game, Bundy began his professional career with 30 scoreless frames at Low-A Delmarva. His dominance resulted in a bump to High-A Frederick (2.84 ERA, 10.42 K/9), followed by a late-season promotion to Double-A Bowie (3.24 ERA). Bundy’s professional debut ended with a big league call-up in mid-September, where he made two appearances out of the Orioles bullpen.

    The 6’1” right-hander is physically strong with broad shoulders. He utilizes lower half and core strength and finishes well out front with minimal effort. He repeats delivery and has a durable, quick arm. He is hard to pick up out of hand, is poised from the stretch and possesses a feel for his mechanics well beyond his years.

    Bundy boasts an advanced four-pitch mix highlighted by a mid-90s two-seam fastball with exceptional run.

    He blows hitters away with a four-seamer that reaches the high 90s.

    His breaking ball is a hammer and plus pitch. It demonstrates tight rotation, but he is still developing command of the pitch, occasionally leaving it up in the zone.

    The changeup is his most consistent secondary pitch and has the potential to be another above-average offering. He also has a slider, but his primary breaking ball is the curve.

     

    Spring Training Forecast

    Bundy will attempt to make the Opening Day roster this spring and could force the Orioles’ hand with an impressive showing. 

     

    2013 Outlook

    Despite reaching the major leagues in his professional debut last season, Bundy stands to benefit from a bit more seasoning in the minor leagues. Therefore, he’ll presumably open the year in the Double-A rotation, though a lights-out performance this spring could warrant consideration as the team’s fifth starter.