Ranking the Most Underrated Orioles Prospects Heading into 2015
The Baltimore Orioles are heading into the 2015 season with a less-than-below-average farm system after stud righty Kevin Gausman and second baseman of the future Jonathan Schoop shed their prospect labels this past year.
In addition to the loss of a highly ranked lefty in Eduardo Rodriguez, who was involved in a trade that netted reliever Andrew Miller from the Boston Red Sox, the Orioles are going to need to get a lot of value out of some of their prospects outside of the elite tier.
Top prospect Dylan Bundy is hoping to make a significant impact at the major league level this season, after being selected fourth overall in 2011. After several setbacks, Bundy needs an uninterrupted season in order for him to complete his development into a major league hurler.
All is going according to plan with fellow blue-chip Hunter Harvey, who dazzled in his first full professional season, compiling a 3.18 ERA with the Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds in 17 starts.
First baseman Christian Walker will be looking at securing a considerable amount of playing time at designated hitter this year, as it looks more and more likely that Steve Pearce will man left field with Chris Davis holding down first.
That leaves us with several prospects who no one has been talking about but could turn a few heads as early as this season.
Here's a look into the most underrated prospects in the Orioles farm system right now, ranked in order of most major league ready.
Honorable Mention: Mike Yastrzemski, OF
Drafted all the way in the 14th round out of Vanderbilt University in the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft, Mike Yastrzemski performed well in his first full professional season.
Throughout three levels of minor league ball, Yastrzemski put up a .288/.346/.490 slash line and collected a total of 64 extra base hits, with 16 of them going for triples.
Yastrzemski also hit 14 homers and swiped 18 bags in 129 games played.
According to a scouting report on OriolesNation.com, Yastrzemski possesses an average tool set across the board.
He lacks the power necessary for a corner outfielder but has solid plate discipline and is a good defender with solid range and above average speed.
His ceiling is that of a fourth outfielder.
Yastrzemski will most likely open up in Double-A Bowie this season, having struggled with a .250 batting average through 43 games to finish up 2014.
3. Tim Berry, LHP
With the departure of top prospect Eduardo Rodriguez, left-handed pitcher Tim Berry is now the organization's top-rated southpaw.
Berry had a very successful season in the Orioles farm system, acquiring a 3.51 ERA over 23 starts in Double-A Bowie.
Berry was able to get a small taste of the major league life in early June of last season and according to MASNSports.com's Steve Melewski, he was quite optimistic about his development:
I feel like it's been a been a good year for me. A couple games, one in particular got away from me. Other than that, I feel like I kept the team in the game and we had a chance to win most games.
As far as my stuff goes, things are getting better, especially the breaking ball, which I felt before the season was kind of my next step and that is coming along.
Berry is now on the Orioles' 40-man roster and has an outside chance of landing a job with the major league club coming out of the bullpen.
2. Chance Sisco, C
A second-round draft choice for the Orioles in 2013, Sisco has been a force at the plate, putting up batting averages that are well over .300.
Just this past season, Sisco posted a slash line of .340/.406/.448 with 34 extra-base hits in 114 games played.
Sisco is a true contact hitter, possessing a superb batting average, but he suffers greatly in the home run department.
In one-and-a-half professional seasons across two levels, Sisco has just six homers.
According to ScoutingBook.com, Sisco has a good arm and soft hands, as should be expected for a catcher and at the plate. He should be able to retain his solid contact skills, but the power may take a few years to come into fruition.
1. Dariel Alvarez, OF
Cuban outfielder Dariel Alvarez had a phenomenal season for the Orioles, hitting for over a .300 average for both Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk in 2014.
Alvarez, who followed fellow prospect Christian Walker to Norfolk in mid-July, didn't miss a beat at the advanced level, collecting 52 hits in 44 games and striking out just 27 times in 173 at-bats.
According to the Baltimore Sun's Jon Meoli, Alvarez has become one of the top hitting prospects for the Orioles and, in one scout's opinion, one of the best sleeper prospects in all of baseball.
With the departures of both corner outfielders in Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz in the offseason and with no true replacement as of yet, don't be surprised if Alvarez cracks the major league roster at the end of spring training.
Statistics provided by Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.