Coming into the season, the Orioles had one of the worst farm systems in baseball, according to Baseball America.
About a third of the way into the season, they're starting to work their way up the rankings, thanks to the stellar play of Manny Machado, Jon Schoop and Tyler Townsend. Not to mention the usual consistency from Josh Bell, Matt Angle and a cadre of young pitchers.
The O's improved the system even more this past week with the MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Not only did they select arguably the top high-school pitcher of the past decade in Dylan Bundy, but they also filled their farm system with some polished college pitching that should help out greatly.
It was a very good couple of weeks for some of the O's top players. Schoop was amazing...again...while Dylan's older brother Bobby continued his prospect ascension.
Let's check out who the top and not-so-top prospects were for the Orioles over the past week and a half.
Matt Angle, OF, 24-years old
As the weather has finally started to heat up, so has Angle's bat.
He came into the month of June hitting just over .200 with only 19 runs and eight steals.
In nine June contests, he already has scored eight runs and has three steals. He also has posted a more Angle-like 7:3 BB:K ratio. His .324 outburst for the month has bumped his average back up to a more respectable, but still paltry, .230. That's bad, but it's still better than three other Norfolk regulars.
The O's were expecting a hot-start to the season from Angle, and if he had produced, it might have been him, not Nolan Reimold, who got the call-up a few weeks ago.
He still has a decent shot to see some time with the big-league club this season and is probably a shoo-in to get called up in September.
Oliver Drake, RHP, Frederick Keys (High-A)
Drake is by far one of the more interesting players that the Orioles have ever drafted.
They selected him out of the United States Naval Academy in the 43rd round of the 2008 draft, about 40 rounds after he could have been selected had any other team known that he was draft eligible.
Since signing, Drake has quietly put together a nice career for Baltimore, showing inning-eating capabilities and making many think he might have a future at the back of a rotation.
His past two starts have been brilliant. In 15.1 innings, he gave up only two earned runs, while notching 10 strikeouts and only three walks.
His most recent start was one of the best of his career. He tossed a complete game, giving up three runs, striking out four in a losing effort. That lowered his ERA with Frederick to 2.84.
If not for his disastrous Double-A debut in which he gave up 11 earned runs in only four innings, Drake would be in the running for pitcher of the year honors in the organization.
Blake Davis, SS, 26 years old
Davis is often forgotten about in the O's system, mostly because he's not very good with the bat and also because he hasn't fared very well in his time with the big-league club.
He's done pretty well at the plate so far this month. Through 37 June at-bats, Davis is hitting .351, best on the squad. He also has two home runs and eight RBI, which is impressive because his career-high in HR for an entire season is four. It's actually five now, a mark he set on June 5th, in a 4-for-5 effort.
Troy Patton, LHP, 25 years old
A long-time starter, Patton has really taken to a bullpen role quite well. In his eight relief outings on the season, he's given up more than one run only once. And only once has he pitched less than two innings. It seems that the O's are trying to make a fine long-reliever out of him. In his past two outings, he has given up only one run in six innings. For the season, he's got a 2.63 ERA in 24 innings, spanning nine starts.
Josh Bell, 3B, 24 years old
Bell had a very strong May (.264, 5 HR, 17 RBI), but has slumped so far in June. He's hitting .243 with only one home run and three RBI. I realize that could change very quickly with one good game, but right now he's on pace for only nine RBI for the month. That would be a monthly low for him. He's also on pace to strike out more than he has in any other month, with 13 through nine contests.
Caleb Joseph, C, 24 years old
No hitter at Bowie is having a truly sensational season. Joseph comes the closest, and only because of his offensive outburst from the past week. He had gone 0 for 7 in his first two June contests, but caught fire in his third, and hasn't stopped raking. He is 6 for 18 in his past five games with two home runs and five RBI. He's about on pace to reach his usual marks of 10-to-13 home runs and 50-to-60 RBI.
Steve Johnson, RHP, 23 years old
Johnson has bounced back nicely from his disastrous stint with Triple-A Norfolk. He's 4-1 on the season with Bowie, with a 1.93 ERA and a 53:13 K:BB ratio in 51.1 innings, and has been the Baysox best pitcher. His most recent three-game stretch has been spectacular.
Greg Miclat, SS, 23 years old
The Orioles didn't draft Miclat for his bat, and he's shown no real improvement in his ability at the plate, struggling to a .241 average for the season.
He was actually better than usual during May, but through six June contests, he's back to hitting around .200. The best thing you can say for Miclat's season is that his work on the basepaths has been amazingly impressive. He's managed to steal 18 bases without getting caught. I guess when that's the best that can be said of your season, that's not a good sign.
Bobby Bundy, RHP, 21-years old
You can't make this stuff up. On the night that his younger brother Dylan was hearing his name called by Bud Selig as the Orioles first-round pick, Bobby was on the mound pitching another gem for Frederick. This time he pitched seven-innings of one-run ball, notching six strikeouts. He also picked up his sixth win of the season in only his 11th start.
The elder Bundy, an eighth-round pick back in 2008, was told that his brother would be joining him in the Orioles system after he came off the mound in the first-inning. The 21-year old right-hander is in the midst of a break-out season, already setting a career-high in wins. He also has a 2.73 ERA, the result of giving up four or more runs only once in 11 starts. His K:BB ratio of 58:13 is one of the best in the system and he ranks in the top-five in innings pitched. Bobby isn't quite the prospect that Dylan is, but it's nice to see that he's finally starting to put things together.
Like Dylan, he was once-upon-a-time a top draft prospect, but he tore some ligaments in his knee before his senior year of high-school and that caused him to drop to the eighth-round, where the O's happily scooped him up, confident that he would regain full mobility in his knee.
Jonathan Schoop, 3B, 19-years old
I think it's seriously time to start considering Schoop for Player of the Year honors in the organization. Not only did he earn a promotion by hitting .316 with 12 doubles, three triples and eight homers at Delmarva, but upon arrival in Frederick he has continued to rake, notching a hit in every game so far. His 3-for-4 performance last night bumped his average up to .429 in five High-A contests. For the season, he's hitting .326 with 37 RBI, 49 runs and a solid 20:34 BB:K ratio. More importantly, he beat Manny Machado to Frederick.
Tyler Townsend, 1B, 23-years old
Townsend has been one of the Orioles hottest hitters this season, and since the calendar turned to June he's been better then ever. During the month of June, he's hitting .394 with five doubles, two homers and eight RBI in eight contest. The former FIU slugger is only two doubles away from setting a new career-high and he looks like he's going to be the run-away winner of the doubles award within the organization. Townsend is having a break-out season, hitting .317 for the year with 19 doubles, ten home runs and 39 RBI. And he's managed to put together a line that nice with a 4:52 BB:K ratio.
Trent Mummey, OF, 21-years old
You never quite know how a player is going to respond from being sidelined with a concussion. Luckily for the O's, Mummey has bounced back incredibly well, hitting .350 in five contests since his return. He's notched at least two hits in three of those games and just a few nights ago clubbed his first High-A home run, his third of the season. Mummey has been a very pleasant surprise from last year's draft class, hitting .292 this season with four doubles, four triples, the three homers and 19 steals. He has also posted a very strong 16:19 BB:K ratio. It's not unlikely that he ends the year in Bowie.
Clayton Schrader, RHP, 21-years old
It's not often you see a 10th-round pick in High-A less than a year after signing, but that's the spot Schrader is in. After a very successful run in Delmarva (2.05 ERA and 38:13 K:BB in 22 IP), the 21-year old got the bump to Frederick where he has been dominant. In four outings, covering 8.2 innings, he has a 15:4 K:BB ratio, one victory and two saves. In his most recent outing, he struck out six over three perfect innings. He's only allowed one hit since his promotion and has only given up 12 in 30.2 innings this season. For the year his ERA is down to 1.47.
Ashur Tolliver, LHP, 23-years old
Tolliver was the Orioles fifth-round pick back in 2009, and they were very pleased to get him to sign, recognizing the impact he could have as a bullpen arm. He made only 23 appearances over the past two seasons, but he's already up to seven this year. He just gave up the first two earned runs of his season a few nights ago, and all that did was raise his ERA to a measly 1.50. He has a very impressive 14:5 K:BB ratio in 12 innings and has pitched multiple innings in all but two of his outings.
Randy Henry, RHP, 21-years old
Henry was the pick one round before the O's took Tolliver in 2009, and like the lefty, he too is just finding his footing in full-season ball. In five appearances so far this season he has given up only one run (a solo shot) in 10.1 innings of work. He has nine strikeouts and three walks. He hasn't given up an earned run in his last three outings.
Justin Dalles, C, 22-years old
It hasn't been the best year for Dalles. After getting off to a hot start in April (.326, 3 HR, 11 RBI) he tanked in May, seeing his average drop below .200, putting him right on pace to finish near his career line. He was 3-for-38 in his last ten games, dropping his season line to .194/.233/.357, before the O's put him on the "temporarily inactive list."
Jacob Pettit, LHP, 24-years old
Despite rough outings in his last two starts, Pettit has been the Shorebirds most consistent starter, and he was rewarded for his efforts by being named to the SAL All-Star roster. That announcement came before his last two starts, in which he combined to surrender 14 hits and eight earned runs (plus two home runs) in 12.2 innings. For the season, Pettit still has a pretty impressive line. He's 5-2 with a 3.98 ERA and a 52:25 K:BB ratio in a team-leading 72.1 innings.
Scott Copeland, RHP, 22-years old
You can make the argument that Copeland's best start this year came on May 18th, when he pitched eight-innings of two-run ball and struck out five batters. Unfortunately, it's been all downhill for the former Southern Miss pitcher. His last start was his worst, getting shelled for 10 hits and eight runs (seven earned) in only 3.1 innings of work. He also issued three walks. For the season, Copeland is 4-4 with an ERA over 5.00, and he has only eight more strikeouts than walks.