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June 19, 1998

Prospect Focus

Joel Bennett, Ryan Minor, Willis Otanez, and Dave Stieb

by Clay Davenport

Scattershooting around the Oriole organization, plus an old favorite.

Joel Bennett, SP Born 1970 Age 28

Year Team     Lge     IP   H   ER  HR  BB  K    ERA  W  L   H/9   HR/9  BB/9   K/9
1994 New Brit Eas   119.3 162  80  11  63  92  6.03  4  9  12.22  0.83  4.75  6.94
1994 Pawtuckt Int    21.0  23  16   8  12  20  6.86  1  1   9.86  3.43  5.14  8.57
1995 Pawtuckt Int    77.0 106  60   7  53  43  7.01  2  7  12.39  0.82  6.19  5.03
1996 Bowie    Eas    51.7  48  23   6  18  33  4.01  3  3   8.36  1.05  3.14  5.75
1997 Bowie    Eas   105.3 116  48  11  41 100  4.10  6  6   9.91  0.94  3.50  8.54
1998 Rochestr Int    81.0  90  35   8  30  64  3.89  5  4  10.00  0.89  3.33  7.11

Bennett's been the surprise of the season for the lackluster Oriole farm system (Trivia: Rochester has all of two players on their roster originally signed by the Orioles, one of whom has spent the entire year on the DL.) He's off to an 8-0 start. And yet...well, we didn't cover him in our book. Sickels didn't cover him in his book. If other pubs mentioned him, it was to dismiss him. The parent club has called up four other pitchers, ignoring him.

There's a reason, besides the fact that he's old (like almost everyone else the O's have playing for them). If he gives it everything he has, and is clocked by a fast radar gun that hasn't been calibrated recently, he might make 87 with a fastball. He relies on a changeup and a sloooowwww (60-65) curve ball. And ever since he joined the Orioles from the Red Sox organization, he's had success with it.

Can't do any worse than Norm Charlton.

Ryan Minor, 3B Born 1974 Age 24

Year Team     Lge  AB  H   DB  TP  HR  BB  R  RBI  SB  CS Out  BA   OBA  SA   EQA
1996 Bluefld  App  88  18   1   0   3   4   6   7   0   0  70 .205 .239 .318 .186
1997 Delmarva SAL 496 128  15   1  16  41  58  64   3   2 370 .258 .315 .389 .244
1998 Bowie    Eas 214  45   4   1   5  11  15  16   1   1 170 .210 .249 .308 .187

The hype machine for him was in overdrive all winter long, and cranked up another notch when he hit .500 for the first week of spring training. Eastern League pitchers are teaching him the same lessons they taught Josh Booty, with similar results (75 strikeouts, 14 walks in 215 atbats).

Fall tryouts for the NBA are probably looking more and more attractive.

Willis Otanez, 3B Born 1973 Age 25

Year Team     Lge  AB  H   DB  TP  HR  BB  R  RBI  SB  CS  Out  BA   OBA  SA   EQA 
1993 Bakrsfld Cal 324  73   7   1   8  17  25  29   1   2  253 .225 .264 .327 .201
1994 Vero Bch Fla 474 119  12   0  20  45  57  66   3   1  356 .251 .316 .403 .249
1995 Vero Bch Fla 355  80  10   0  10  22  30  34   1   1  276 .225 .271 .338 .208
1995 SanAnton Tex 100  23   3   1   1   5   8   7   0   1   78 .230 .267 .310 .194
1996 Bowie    Eas 508 123  17   1  19  36  53  64   3   4  389 .242 .292 .392 .234
1997 Bowie    Eas  78  23   4   0   3   6  11  13   0   1   56 .295 .345 .462 .273
1997 Rochestr Int 168  32   4   0   5  12  11  12   0   0  136 .190 .244 .304 .182
1998 Rochestr Int 238  67   8   1  12  14  31  41   1   0  171 .282 .321 .475 .272

Cooling off after a torrid start. I think this is fairly representative of his real ability; it is well in line with his seasons in 1994 and 1996, and I know he went through some injury problems in '95. Can't play other infield positions, and isn't likely to get any chance at third for the O's.

Dave Stieb, RP 1958 Age 40

Year Team     Lge     IP   H   ER  HR  BB  K    ERA  W  L   H/9   HR/9  BB/9   K/9  
1998 Syracuse Int    63.7  53  21   5  17  38  2.97  5  2   7.49  0.71  2.40  5.37

Celebrated his return to the majors by pitching a scoreless (yet troublesome) ninth against the Orioles while I was writing this up, so I decided to throw him in. He doesn't have his old fastball, but what he had was more than a match for AAA hitters. The Jays may have been resisting calling him up, but quite frankly he deserves it. On merit, not memory. Good luck, Dave.

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