10 Most Likely Prospects to Join the Orioles When Rosters Expand in September
September is right around the corner, which means it's nearly time for Major League rosters to expand. For Orioles fans who are being forced to watch another late-season collapse that can mean only one thing: time to see what the farm system has to offer!
The big-league team has already seen a major influx of minor league talent throughout the course of the season. It started with lefty Zach Britton, who was recalled to take Brian Matusz's spot in the rotation during the first week of the season. It continued with infielder Ryan Adams, who debuted on May 20th and appeared in nine games from that point on till he was demoted in mid-June.
Outfielder Matt Angle and infielder Blake Davis also earned the opportunity to make their big-league debuts.
O's fans can expect a massive influx of talent from the minors to reinforce the struggling team at the big-league level.
Here's who is most likely to get the call on the first day of roster expansion, and what to expect once they get to Camden Yards.
Robbie Widlansky, OF/1B, 26-years old
Sooner or later the O's are going to have to see what they have in Widlansky.
The 26-year old veteran has been incredibly productive throughout his five-year career, despite the fact that he's never played more than 95 games in a single season.
Back in 2009 he had a season for the ages, cranking out 31 doubles, seven homers and 59 RBI in just 86 games. He also hit .340 and has he received enough at-bats to qualify he would have been near the top of the minor league chart in batting average. He was named Carolina League player of the week three times.
Last season he regressed a bit, hitting only .269 with five homers and 30 RBI.
This season, however, he appears to be back on track. He hit .261 with 21 doubles, seven homers and 45 RBI in 78 contests for Double-A Bowie, and then really turned things on once he received a promotion to Triple-A. Through 17 contests, he's hitting .318.
The Orioles real need come September will be pitching, but having a guy who has experience in the outfield and at first base could be very valuable.
Matt Angle, OF, 25-Years Old
Angle has been the hottest hitter in the organization since June, when he hit .315, upping his average from the spot it held near the Mendoza line. It's been on it's way up ever since.
He hit .378 during July and even managed to earn a big-league call-up during the month. He didn't perform too well, going hitless in seven at-bats, but he didn't get much of an opportunity. Expect a greater one to come during September.
Angle could really be a good option for the Orioles. With great speed (26 SB), amazing plate discipline and one of the strongest arms in the system, he would make a great fourth outfielder, with an outside shot at stealing the left-field job for himself.
There's no doubt that he's one of the hardest workers in the organization and if anyone respects that it's Buck Showalter, so I have no doubt that Angle will get a shot once the calendar flips to September.
Wynn Pelzer, RHP, 25-Years Old
Pelzer is just one of a few guys at Double-A who is holding his own.
Through 26 appearances, ten of which have come in the form of starts, the 25-year old right-hander is 5-7 with a 4.26 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 74 innings.
After a disastrous run as a starter during May (0-5, 8.44 ERA) the O's allowed Pelzer to move back to the pen, where he's been much better, posting a 2.25 ERA in June and a 2.92 number in July. He's still had tons of struggles with his command (44 BB in 74 innings) but he's had a much better handle on his pitches since going back to relieving full-time.
It seems like the O's are still torn on what path to choose for him, but taking this year's results into account, it seems like he's going to be best suited for a role in relief.
He's already 25-years old and the O's have a piece-meal bullpen that isn't doing any favors for the starters, so I don't see any reason not to give Pelzer a shot.
Brandon Waring, 3B, 25-Years Old
If Waring gets a shot, it certainly won't be because of his performance.
In fact, the 25-year old has put together one of the most unimpressive campaigns of any Oriole prospect this season. In 87 games, he's hitting just .208 with 93 strikeouts in 308 at-bats. He does have 14 home runs and a decent number of RBI (41), but it's much harder to hit long-balls and drive in runs if you can't make contact.
His walk numbers are way down from last season, as well, leading me to think that maybe he's frustrated and being overly aggressive at the plate.
Waring spent all of last season in Double-A and a few games in 2009 there as well. You'd have to be crazy not to be frustrated at still being with Bowie.
It's a long shot, but the O's might give him a chance to prove he can hit for power in the big-leagues.
Cole McCurry, LHP, 25-years old
The Orioles first objective is going to be to bring up some more pitching reinforcements, and while McCurry might not be the most seasoned option, with only 21.1 innings pitched above Double-A.
The 25-year old lefty had nothing but success in 15 outings at Double-A, showing the ability to pitch multiple innings (more than two per appearance), something that would definitely come in handy with Baltimore's rotation and bullpen being as depleted as they are.
Ryan Adams, INF, 24-Years Old
Everyone knew that Adams would likely get his shot at some point this season, what with Brian Roberts doing his annual stint on the DL and all.
Still, with Roberts only appearing in 39 games so far this season, I think most Orioles fans have been surprised that Adams has only appeared in nine contests himself.
And while he wasn't setting the world on fire in those nine games (.217, one RBI), he certainly earned a chance to come back in September and try to prove that he's capable of being the guy to replace Roberts in the short term.
Since heading back to Triple-A, Adams has been setting the world on fire, hitting .287 with five homers and 16 RBI. Over his last ten games, he's hitting .304 with three homers and nine RBI.
And while he'll never be a defensive standout, he's performed decently enough (only eight errors in 77 games) to warrant a second look at second base.
Kyle Hudson, OF, 24-Years Old
Hudson has been a world-beater this season, making pit stops in Frederick and Bowie, before finally ending up in Triple-A, riding the tails of his best season as a professional.
The 24-year old outfielder, who also happens to be one of the top athletes in the entire system, has shot up three levels partly due to his impressive play, but also because of the necessity caused by numerous injuries at the higher levels of the minors.
Still, you have to give him credit for making the most of his opportunities. He never posted an average higher than .284, but in 28 contests at Double-A he batted .308. During July he exploded, hitting .410 with 25 hits and nine steals in just 14 games.
That earned him a promotion to Triple-A, where he's more than held his own, batting .297. He's been especially hot as of late, hitting .390 over his past ten contests.
For the season, Hudson is hitting .295 with 43 runs scored and 29 steals. He's never going to be a guy who offers big power (zero HR and just 18 RBI), but he's a great defender with great speed, so there could be a spot for him on the big-league roster come September.
Josh Bell, 3B, 24-Years Old
Bell doesn't necessarily qualify for "prospect" status anymore, but he's still a youngster so he really does belong on this list.
The O's gave Bell a chance to prove himself late last season, giving him a 53-game trial in the Majors. The 24-year old struggled greatly, drawing just two walks while going down on strikeouts 53 times. His batting average of .214 was a far cry from the .260-.270 he's been used to in the minors. Simply put, Bell looked like he was in way over his head.
He's righted his ship somewhat this season, which has been spent almost entirely at Triple-A Norfolk. He paces the Tides with 16 home runs and is second with 47 RBI. He's still striking out more than is probably healthy (100 K in 87 games) and isn't drawing enough walks (29). It's a miracle he's hitting .254.
With Mark Reynolds holding down third base and hitting more than his fair share of home runs, it's unlikely that Bell is going to see much time at third base, but he's played a little first base this year, giving him some added versatility.
It might be a decent idea to bring him up and see if he can even handle the position as a big-leaguer.
Tyler Henson, INF/OF, 23-Years Old
Henson is an unsung hero of the Orioles farm system.
Just 23-years old, the athletic outfielder has fought off a couple of slow months and appears to have finally regained the steam that allowed him to jump out to such a hot start in April. If the cards fall the right way, he could be looking at his first big-league opportunity.
After struggling near the end of April and in May, Henson has quietly worked his way back into form, upping his average every month since May. He hit .273 in June and jumped to .333 in July. He's hitting .375 through two August contests, getting hot at just the right time.
For the year, Henson is hitting .275 with 16 doubles and three triples. He has more raw power than his two home runs would indicate and he also offers some decent speed.
He also has the added benefit of being familiar with multiple infield positions, including second and third base. He's also dabbled at shortstop. That could greatly increase his odds of getting a call-up and would make him a very valuable guy to have on the roster.
L.J. Hoes, 2B, 21-Years Old
Hoes was tabbed as a potential break-out candidate before the season, so you know there were several disappointed "experts" when Hoes jumped out to a .241 start in his first 41 games with High-A Frederick.
He didn't let that ruin his season, however, and a promotion to Double-A Bowie proved to be just what he needed. Sixty-three games later, Hoes is a primary reason the Baysox just swept into first place in the Eastern Division of the Eastern League.
He's hit .322 for the Baysox, adding in 11 doubles and six home runs. He's driven in 41 runs, giving him a career-high 58 for the season, and has 17 steals. He's also posted one of the top BB:K ratios in the organization (34-to-62).
Keep in mind that Hoes is doing all of this as one of the youngest position players in the Eastern League.
During his past ten games, Hoes has been magical, hitting .455 with all six home runs and 13 RBI. He's already had two multi-home run games and went deep in both games of yesterday's doubleheader. Pitchers are starting to work their way around him too, as evidenced by his seven walks and three K's.
Hoes might still be too young, but the way he's hitting as of late, I'd say he's earned his shot.