It's been a very busy month for the Orioles farm system.
The organization saw two of their top prospects named to rosters for the Futures Game in Manny Machado, who suited up for Team USA, and Jonathan Schoop, who saw some action at second base for the World Team.
The system has also had to deal with a ton of injuries, which has necessitated some major restructuring of the minor league rosters.
Further complicating the farm system's progress has been the lack of any kind of consistency from the big league club's pitching staff. Shuttles have been running back and forth from Triple-A Norfolk to Baltimore on a daily basis, sometimes twice-a-day!
Luckily, the thinning out of the farm system, which has been exacerbated by the elimination of the team's affiliate at Bluefield, has allowed some lesser prospects to shine, and you'll see many of them highlighted here.
So, let's get into it, the hottest Orioles prospects for the end of the month of June and the early parts of July.
Greg Miclat, 2B, 23 years old (Bowie Baysox)
Miclat has had two absolutely terrible months.
In April he hit just .214 and in June he posted a .231 number.
In both May and July, however, he's been excellent. July especially. Through 12 games this month he is hitting an even .500. He's racked up 20 hits, posted an even BB-to-K ratio and stolen eight bases without getting caught.
That tear has raised his season average up to .278, and despite the fact that he has only 15 extra-base hits and just 16 RBI in 281 at-bats, he also has scored 50 runs and swiped 31 bases.
And if that stolen base total sounds impressive, it's even more so than you think. Miclat has done all that without getting caught stealing once. Not once! That's hard enough to do in an entire week, much less 79 games.
Miclat was drafted out of Virginia primarily for his defense, so an extra juice they can get out of his bat is much welcomed. He's performed well enough to put his name in the hat with a bunch of other names as possible replacements for Brian Roberts when he inevitably gets injured again next season.
Clayton Schrader, RHP, 21 years old (Frederick Keys)
If you're looking for a dark horse to compete for a spot in the Orioles bullpen next season, look no further than Schrader, who has carved up hitters in two leagues in his full-season debut.
The 21-year-old earned a promotion from Delmarva after posting a 38:13 K:BB ratio in 22 innings for the Shorebirds. He also picked up one victory and two saves in 12 appearances. He carried over that momentum into his new role as a set-up guy for the Keys, and as hard as it is to believe he's actually been better in High-A ball.
He's also made 12 appearances for Frederick, and has struck out 31 batters in 21.2 innings, while holding down a minuscule 0.83 ERA. And if you thought his .145 average against in Delmarva was good, get a hold of this: batters are hitting just .085 against him in the Carolina League. Just six base-hits in 21.2 innings.
For the season, the O's 10th-round draft pick in last year's draft has a 1.44 ERA in 24 outings and a K:BB ratio of 69-to-27.
Ryan Adams, 2B, 24 years old
Since returning to Norfolk after a nine-game stint with the Orioles, Adams has worked his bat back into shape. It's clearly back now as he's hitting .320 through 12 starts in July. In those 12 games he's racked up six extra-base hits and driven in seven runs.
He's also swiped two bases, the first steals he's had since May. For the year now, Adams is hitting .290 with 18 doubles and three homers in 241 at-bats. Not exactly scalding hot, but better than most of what his teammates are doing.
Matt Angle, OF, 25 years old
How bout a huge hand for Angle, who since June has been arguably the hottest hitter in the system. He's put an incredibly slow start (.158 in April, .237 in May) behind him and is now looking better at the plate than ever before.
He started his comeback with a strong showing in June. He hit .315 with three doubles, two triples, an incredible 22 runs, a 16-to-18 BB:K ratio and eight steals. He carried over that torrid pace into July, where he's hitting .358 with eight runs and four steals through 12 games. For the season, he's now boosted his average to a respectable .270.
Jose Diaz, RHP, 27 years old
Diaz looked astonishingly good in Double-A to start the 2011 campaign, posting a 1.48 ERA while racking up 17 saves in 25 appearances. His performance since earning a promotion to Triple-A has been the exact opposite.
The O's have a bunch of Major and minor league veterans on the staff, so Diaz wasn't forced into the closer's role in order to alleviate some of the pressure for his first promotion to Triple-A in his six-year career. It hasn't helped. Diaz has posted an 8.53 ERA in seven outings.
He's given up as many hits and more runs in just 6.1 innings as he did in his entire time at Bowie. He was so good with the Baysox, however, that his ERA is still under 3.00 for the season.
Buck Britton, 3B, 25 years old
Some times guys just have special years. 2011 seems like it's going to be one of those for Britton, the younger brother of Zach Britton, who spent some time with the big-league club this season. After seeing time with five different Orioles affiliates the past two seasons, Britton has been restricted to just two this season, and he's raked with both Frederick and Bowie.
Since his bump to Double-A, he's been great. He hit .320 in June and has hit .344 through the first nine games of July. For the season, he's hitting a combined .321 with 19 doubles, five homers and 46 RBI. He's also struck out just 23 times in 190 at-bats.
At 6'1" and 160 pounds, Britton doesn't exactly fit the prototype of the classic third baseman, but for the time being, the O's have no problem with him pacing the Baysox offensive attack.
Tim Bascom, RHP, 26 years old
Bascom has been a tough guy to peg since signing with the O's out of the 2007 draft. This year he has bounced back and forth from the rotation to the bullpen, and from Frederick to Bowie. He's back in the starting rotation now, and in four starts since making the move, he's won three games, posted a 1.85 ERA and allowed just 13 hits in 24.1 innings.
That has boosted his season line to 6-2 with a 2.73 ERA in 21 outings. The future is still likely in the bullpen for Bascom, but it's nice to see him pitching this well in the rotation at a time when the O's are seeing starters drop like flies.
Brandon Waring, 3B, 25-years old
The guy who Britton has been stealing a ton of playing time from, Waring has had a terrible season that you know he wishes would just end. After hitting .250 with six home runs during June, it looked like the 25-year-old was finally getting on track. Guess again.
Through seven July contests, he's hitting just .240 with only one home run. He's still striking out way too often, with 77 and counting through 246 at-bats, resulting in the worst average (.195) of his career.
Tyler Townsend, 1B, 23 years old
If you're Townsend, you have to be wondering how much longer the Orioles will be subjecting you to High-A pitching. And while he may be more of an advanced hitter than most of his competition, there's no denying the fact that it's fun to watch him mash Carolina League pitchers.
In July, he's raking like never before, racking up a .440 average in seven contests. He also has three homers and 11 RBI so far this month. For the season, Townsend is hitting well above .300-.318 to be exact--and all of his other numbers look great: 23 doubles, 13 home runs, 50 RBI and a .588 slugging percentage.
The one number that has held him back, however, has been this one: 9:63. That's Townsend's walk-to-strikeout ratio.
Nicholas Haughian, LHP, 24 years old
Haughian has alternated great starts with mediocre ones for most of the season, but recently it's been mostly positive ones for the 24-year old. His last start was arguably the best of his career. He tossed seven four-hit innings, while issuing just one walk and striking out 12.
If you eliminate a rough outing on July 6th, he has allowed just two earned runs in his last 20 innings, while posting a 22:3 K:BB ratio and three victories. Those three W's have put Haughian back over .500 at 6-4, and lowered his ERA to 3.86.
Manny Machado, SS, 19 years old
Machado hasn't been nearly the offensive juggernaut that he was since his promotion to Frederick. And while he has improved greatly during the month of July, he's still hitting just .218 for the O's High-A club. He also has just three extra-base hits.
This is in no way a reflection on the kind of career that lies ahead for the O's first-round pick from 2010, but over the past month he just hasn't looked as good.
Ryan Palsha, RHP, 21 years old
Palsha has been excellent out of the Shorebirds pen this year, serving as a multi-inning guy. His ERA of 2.79 is one of the best on the squad, as is his .239 average against. He's served up just one long-ball all year long and has 34 strikeouts in 42 innings.
During the month of June, Palsha could do little wrong. In seven appearances, spanning 17 innings, he allowed just 12 hits and one earned run, good for a 0.53 ERA. Palsha has earned solid reviews from the organization since signing as a 16th round pick back in 2009, and it wouldn't be at all surprising to see him get promoted towards the end of the year.
Kieron Pope, OF, 24 years old
Any goodwill that Pope generated with his solid comeback attempt last season has all but vanished, as he has continued to struggle, bringing back the thoughts in the organization that he might be better off signing elsewhere after this season.
Pope started strong, hitting .262 in April. He dropped to .143 in May, although he made just eight appearances, and finally all the way down to .133 in June. He was placed on the disabled list just hours after breaking his 20-at-bat hitless streak, and hasn't seen the field since June 15th.
Luis Noel, RHP, 23 years old
Pope wasn't the only one hoping for some good comeback vibes. Noel missed a good chunk of the 2010 season due to visa issues, and was hoping to get back on track with a strong 2011 campaign. He hasn't ever really gotten on the right track, unfortunately, allowing batters to hit .303 off of him for the season, including .327 in June.
His ERA of 5.75 is the worst of his career and he's averaging nearly one walk for each strikeout. He's also approaching his career-high in home runs allowed. Did I mention he's already lost ten games too?
Connor Narron, SS, 19 years old
Narron was one of the O's 2010 draft picks that I was most excited about. The team swayed him away from a commitment to UNC, where he likely would have gone on to become the team's starting shortstop.
Now, he's slaving away in short-season ball, and while his average (.238) isn't very exciting, he's shown excellent plate discipline, racking up 18 walks in 26 games, against just 16 strikeouts.
That's helped his on-base percentage, which stands at a healthy .385, despite the poor average. He's also been heating up as of late. He's notched hits in five of his last six games, and driven in four runs in that same period.
Glynn Davis, OF, 19 years old
Davis is arguably the fastest runner in the entire organization, so it should come as no surprise that he's racked up three steals in his past three games. What should come as a surprise, is that that trio of swipes gives him just six for the season, and only five with Aberdeen.
Davis' bat is what earned him a promotion from the O's GCL squad, where the 19-year-old local product hit .435 in six games. Since making the jump, he's hitting only .216 which has dropped his season line down to .284. Like Narron, however, he's shown a great eye at the plate, walking nearly as many times (11) as he's struck out (15).
David Baker, RHP, 20 years old
Baker would have likely made this list regardless of whether or not he had a strong month since he bears the same name as my cousin. Luckily, he's pitched incredibly well the past month. Through five starts, he's held down a 2.45 ERA and racked up 23 strikeouts (compared to just eight walks) in 25.2 innings.
He's also limited batters to just 17 hits (.189), seven of which came in one outing. Baker is a tad old for Aberdeen, so he's going to have to keep pitching well if he wants to stay in the team's plans.
Matt Drummond, LHP, 23 years old
Dan Klein wasn't the only pitcher the O's scooped up from UCLA in last year's draft. They also added Drummond in the 20th-round, and early returns were very good on the left-hander. He pitched to a 1.76 ERA in eight appearances last year for the O's GCL squad, striking out 21 batters in just 15.1 innings.
This year, however, has been a total reversal. Drummond struggled with a move to the rotation, lasting just four innings in his first start, despite striking out six, and just 1.2 innings in his second. His third outing came out of the bullpen, and his most recent saw him self-destruct (5 H, 4 ER, 1 HR and zero outs), and then get bumped to the disabled-list.
Devin Jones, RHP, 21 years old
I know it's harsh to judge a guy with only three professional innings under his belt, but I wasn't real big on Jones when the O's took him with their ninth-round pick in this year's draft. He's only made three appearances so far with Aberdeen, but he's given up at least two hits in each, and two earned runs in two of three.
His last outing saw him get bombed for three hits and four runs (three earned). He also issued two walks and now has just as many of those (four) as he does strikeouts (four). His ERA currently sits at 13.50.
Roderick Bernandina, OF, 18 years old
The Orioles stoked the Beltway Series rivalry a bit when they signed Bernandina, the brother of Nationals outfielder Roger Bernandina, out of Curacao in 2009. Since signing, the younger Bernandina has shown excellent athleticism and at least four tools.
He swiped 13 bases, showed a great eye at the plate (30:38 BB:K ratio), and great moves in the outfield last year for the organization's Dominican Summer League squad, and this year he's looking even better playing in the GCL. Through 20 games, he's hitting .265, although his on-base percentage has once again been aided by a solid number of walks (10 to just eight Ks).
He's been aided by a 9:4 BB:K ratio in the month of July. Bernandina has also been an extra-base hit machine, totaling 11 in just 68 at-bats. He's already doubled his home run output from last year.
Matt Bywater, LHP, 21 years old
You would expect Bywater to look as good as he has pitching in the GCL considering that he's about 3-4 years older than the average level of competition. Still, the strong showing has been a good sign from the Orioles seventh-round pick, who signed just hours before last year's August signing deadline, too late to get on the mound in 2010.
Bywater began the season in the bullpen, before moving into the rotation. He's now made four starts, and each outing has been better than the previous one. His most recent start saw him toss four hitless innings, striking out five batters, while issuing just one walk.
For the season he's struck out 17 batters in just 15.1 innings, and although he has nine walks, his ERA is a sterling 0.59. Batters are also hitting just .100 off of him.
Cameron Coffey, LHP, 20 years old
The Orioles were hoping to have gotten a much bigger return on Coffey, who the team infamously shelled out almost $1 million to back in 2009 after witnessing him touch the mid 90s for a few innings before succumbing to an arm injury that required season-ending surgery.
Unfortunately, adding in the four appearances that the right-hander has made this year, he now has just 11 outings in his entire career. And like last year, he hasn't looked very sharp, issuing the same number of walks as strikeouts. He's also given up 17 hits in just 10.2 innings, which has resulted in his 5.91 ERA, up from his 2010 number of 5.73.
Alexander Mercedes, SS, 19 years old
The O's have taken some flak for not being as aggressive in the international market, but they still have found some pretty decent players, including Jonathan Schoop and Garabez Rosa. They're now hoping they've found another gem in the form of shortstop Alexander Mercedes, who has been his team's best offensive player since DSL play began in May.
His .317 average ranks in the top 20, and he leads his team with 40 base-hits, 27 runs, and ranks second with ten steals. He also has the best BB:K ratio on the squad at 21:11.
Having a good eye at the plate is nothing new for Mercedes, who also drew more walks (19) than strikeouts (14) last year in the DSL, despite compiling a .195 average. He's already eclipsed all of his offensive numbers from last year and appears ready for a jump to the GCL.
William Princivil, RHP, 21 years old
Another guy who is a bit old for the competition, four-year DSL veteran William Princivil has nonetheless been dominant, establishing himself as the squad's ace. His 2.33 ERA is one of the top numbers in the league among starters, while his 49 strikeouts rank him third in the circuit.
He also paces the DSL with 58 innings pitched, 11 more than his nearest competitor. Toss in the fact that batters are hitting just .207 off of him and that he's only given up two homers all season long, and the 6'2", 180-pound right-hander looks even better.
His most recent start was possibly his best. He tossed eight-innings of two-hit ball, allowing just one run and two walks, while striking out seven.
Hector Veloz, 3B, 17 years old
Veloz set a franchise record last year when he signed for $300,000 out of the Dominican Republic. He required a fresh start with the O's after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug just months later.
Now he's finally on the field, albeit in the Dominican, and playing, showing above-average skills for a 17-year old although he hasn't lived up to his billing as an incredible power hitter. He's slugged just one home run in 129 at-bats, and while he has 19 RBI, he has also struck out 39 times already.
Veloz has been especially awful during the month of July, hitting just .176 with 11 strikeouts in 34 at-bats.