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November 15, 2011

Future Shock

Baltimore Orioles Top 11 Prospects

by Kevin Goldstein

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Previous Rankings: 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008

System In 20 Words Or Less: Elite-level draft picks lead to a pair of studs, but without them, it's a mess.

Five-Star Prospects
1. Dylan Bundy, RHP
2. Manny Machado, SS
Four-Star Prospects
3. Jonathan Schoop, INF
Three-Star Prospects
4. Nick Delmonico, 3B
5. Jason Esposito, 3B
6. Robert Bundy, RHP
7. Parker Bridwell, RHP
8. Dan Klein, RHP
9. Ryan Adams, 2B
Two-Star Prospects
10. L.J. Hoes, OF
11. Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP

Nine More:
12. Clayton Schrader, RHP: Put up remarkable numbers; fastball/breaker combo has eighth-inning potential.
13. Joe Mahoney, 1B: Massive first baseman didn't get to Double-A until 24 and has yet to unlock power potential.
14. Xavier Avery, OF: Speedster held own in Double-A, but approach is a mess, as is swing.
15. Gabriel Lino, C: Excellent defensive prospect still has to prove he can hit, but there are signs of power.
16. Pedro Florimon, SS: Reached the big leagues in 2011, but scouts don't think plus defender will ever hit.
17. Glynn Davis, OF: Burner with some idea at the plate, but quite raw.
18. Matt Angle, OF: Gritty and all that stuff, but never more than an extra outfielder.
19. Mike Wright, RHP: Third-round pick has size and classic sinker/slider combination.
20. Kyle Hudson, OF: Not as good a baseball player as Angle, but a far better athlete.

1. Dylan Bundy, RHP
DOB
: 11/15/92
Height/Weight: 6’1/200
Bats/Throws: S/R
Drafted/Signed: 1st round, 2011, Owasso HS (OK)
2011 Stats: N/A
Tools Profile: The kind of stuff and polish rarely seen in a teenage arm.

Year in Review: Top high school arm had an outside shot at becoming the first prep righty to go first overall before ultimately landing in Baltimore with the fourth overall pick.
The Good: Bundy's arsenal earns top-flight praise for both its quality and depth. Broad-shouldered and muscular, he has a smooth, lightning-quick arm that allows his fastball to sit in the mid-90s with plenty of 100s seen throughout the spring. His curveball is already a plus pitch, and he surprised scouts with an 88-91 mph cut fastball that is already a weapon as well as a change-up that is advanced for his age. Beyond the stuff, he has above-average control and not only throws strikes but throws quality ones and is lauded for his makeup.
The Bad: Bundy's change-up is a tick below average, but there's no reason to think it won't become plus with time and repetition. He doesn't have the classic size of an ace-level power pitcher, but no scouts contacted for this article had any concerns. All he really needs is innings.
Ephemera: Of the 16 right-handed pitchers selected fourth overall prior to Bundy, every one of them reached the big leagues.
Perfect World Projection: Bundy's ceiling is arguably unmatched by any high school right-hander since Josh Beckett.
Fantasy Impact: I'm told there is value in aces.
Path to the Big Leagues: Bundy is polished enough to handle a full-season assignment despite having yet to pitch. He could move quickly and could be the future face of the franchise.
ETA: 2014

2. Manny Machado, SS
DOB
: 7/6/92
Height/Weight: 6’3/185
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 1st round, 2010, Brito HS (FL)
2011 Stats: .276/.376/.483 at A (38 G), .245/.308/.384 at High A (63 G)
Tools Profile: At least average across the board, and often much more than that.

Year in Review: No. 3 overall pick in 2010 impressed in a full-season debut that was interrupted by a knee injury.
The Good: Machado can hit. He knows how to work the count to his advantage and has plenty of bat speed, outstanding hands, and the strength to project for plus power with 20-25 home runs annually. He has impressive defensive fundamentals for his age and a plus arm with strength and accuracy.
The Bad: Machado has average speed, but he's young and still growing, and many scouts believe he'll likely get to the point where he fits better at third base. He struggled in the Carolina League and at times seemed to let his frustration get the better of him by expanding his strike zone.
Ephemera: Of Machado's 11 home runs on the season, nearly half came during a one-week stretch from April 25 to May 1, when he went 13-for-25 with five home runs in seven games.
Perfect World Projection: All-Star, but just as likely at third base as shortstop, if not more.
Fantasy Impact: Everything except speed.
Path to the Big Leagues: Machado was just 17 when drafted and will not turn 20 until mid-season. He'll begin the season at High-A Frederick but has the talent to determine his own timetable.
ETA: Late 2013

3. Jonathan Schoop, INF
DOB
: 10/16/91
Height/Weight: 6’1/187
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 2008, Curacao
2011 Stats: .316/.376/.514 at A (51 G), .271/.329/.375 at High A (77 G)
Tools Profile: Almost a low-rent Machado in that he's a tick below him in each tool, which still makes him one hell of a player.

Year in Review: Curacao native built on an impressive showing in the New York-Penn League by performing well at both A-level clubs.
The Good: Schoop is an advanced hitter for his age. He has good plate discipline and a loose swing with gap power and projects to be average down the road. He has excellent defensive skills with good hands and a very strong arm.
The Bad: Like Machado, Schoop just isn't the kind of athlete necessary for shortstop, and while he can play third or second, his bat fits better up the middle due to debates over his ultimate power ceiling. He's an average-at-best runner.
Ephemera: In 96 at-bats as a third baseman, Schoop hit .406.
Perfect World Projection: Above-average everyday player, but his future position could revolve around where Machado ends up.
Fantasy Impact: Not a superstar but should produce in both the average and power categories.
Path to the Big Leagues: Schoop will stick with Machado at High-A Frederick to begin the year, and he'll stay up the middle as long as possible.
ETA: 2014

4. Nick Delmonico, 3B
DOB
: 7/12/1992
Height/Weight: 6’2/196
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Signed: 6th round, 2011, Farragut HS (TN)
2011 Stats: N/A
Tools Profile: Classic hot corner profile with size and strength.

Year in Review: Seen as a tough, if not nearly impossible sign out of high school, the Orioles surprised many by signing Delmonico to a $1.525 million deal at the deadline.
The Good: Delmonico certainly looks the part. He has size and plenty of associated power, showcasing easy plus power in high school. His arm is excellent, leading some to consider trying him as a catcher. He comes from a baseball family, with his father a legendary college coach, and comes into the game with outstanding makeup and baseball intelligence.
The Bad: Delmonico did not live up to expectations this spring, as his swing got long and he got extremely power-conscious. He's not especially athletic and can look stiff and mechanical at third base, although he should develop into an average defender with repetition.
Ephemera: Located just outside of Knoxville, Farragut High has produced more NFL players than those in Major League Baseball, as well as former World Series of Poker champion Chris Moneymaker.
Perfect World Projection: First-division third baseman, but he comes with considerable risk.
Fantasy Impact: Most valuable for his power but should provide some average as well.
Path to the Big Leagues: The Orioles would like Delmonico to earn a full-season job this spring, as he was 19 when drafted and thus a bit behind the standard age curve.
ETA: 2015

5. Jason Esposito, 3B
DOB
: 7/19/90
Height/Weight: 6’2/200
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 2nd round, 2011, Vanderbilt
2011 Stats: N/A
Tools Profile: Outstanding defensive player who you hope will hit.

Year in Review: After turning down huge money from the Royals three years ago, Esposito didn't live up to expectations at Vanderbilt but still landed in the second round.
The Good: Any discussion of Esposito begins with his defense, as he has Gold Glove potential. His instincts and reactions are off the charts, his hands are soft, and his arm is a 65-70 on the scouting scale. He's a good athlete who runs well for the position and has gap-to-average power.
The Bad: Esposito's bat is a question mark, and one scout called him “college baseball's Pedro Feliz.” His swing is complicated mechanically, and a hitch creates timing issues.
Ephemera: While Vanderbilt has been a pitching factory of late, they've yet to produce a star position player in the big leagues. Pedro Alvarez is already second on the all-time alumni home run list with 20—just ten behind all-time leader Joey Cora.
Perfect World Projection: Everyday third baseman known more for his glove than his bat.
Fantasy Impact: Unless you are in a crazy league that rewards glove work, not much.
Path to the Big Leagues: Esposito's polish as well as the talent above him could lead to him making his debut in High-A.
ETA: 2014

6. Robert Bundy, RHP
DOB
: 1/13/90
Height/Weight: 6’2/215
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 8th round, 2008, Sperry HS (OK)
2011 Stats: 2.75 ERA (121.0-102-31-100) at High A (20 G), 9.60 ERA (15.0-25-11-13) at AA (5 G)
Tools Profile: Similar to his brother, only not nearly as good.

Year in Review: Physical right-hander was among the Carolina League's top pitchers but struggled after late-season promotion to Double-A.
The Good: Bundy attacks the strike zone with a low-90s fastball that features plenty of natural sink. His curveball is a power pitch that rates average-to-plus, and he has the ability to drop it into the zone or bury the offering. He's an intense competitor who challenges hitters.
The Bad: Bundy scuffled after moving to the Eastern League and looked tired. His change-up lacks crispness and could use more deception and break. Without that one monster offering, some scouts wonder how he'll miss bats in the big leagues. While he limits his walks, he can be guilty of grooving his pitches at times.
Ephemera: While the draft history for his younger brother is very kind, Jeff Parrett (1983), Mark Clark (1988), and Micah Bowie (1993) are the only pitchers drafted with the 236th overall selection to reach the big leagues.
Perfect World Projection: Number four starter and innings eater.
Fantasy Impact: One of those late picks you make not to hurt you.
Path to the Big Leagues: Bundy will get another chance at conquering Double-A to begin the 2012 season.
ETA: 2013

7. Parker Bridwell, RHP
DOB
: 8/2/91
Height/Weight: 6’4/190
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 9th round, 2010, Hereford HS (TX)
2011 Stats:4.53 ERA (53.2-56-22-57) at Low A (12 G), 7.06 ERA (21.2-23-13-13) at A (5 G)
Tools Profile: Classic power pitching project. Emphasis on project.

Year in Review: 2010 over-slot picked impressed in the short-season leagues.
The Good: Bridwell is loaded with potential. He has a nearly perfect frame for a projectable pitcher and is extremely athletic. His fastball sits in the low-90s, can touch 95, and has plenty of sink, while his power breaking ball already generates plenty of swings and misses. Scouts noted his poise on the mound, and he pitches with a quiet intensity.
The Bad: Bridwell's change-up is a work-in-progress that lags well behind his other offerings. While is arm-action is smooth, his length creates some inconsistencies in his release, and he can lose the strike zone. He can get a bit too fastball-intensive at times, and his pitches flatten out when he overthrows.
Ephemera: Bridwell is the only player drafted out of his high school in a small town located in Texas' panhandle. The local water supply in Hereford has a high level of natural fluorine, resulting in the nickname of, “The Town Without A Toothache.”
Perfect World Projection: While exciting for his size and projection, Bridwell is far from a finished product who could end up in the rotation or the bullpen.
Fantasy Impact: Hard to say without a known role, but he'll definitely give you some strikeouts.
Path to the Big Leagues: Bridwell will open 2012 in the Low-A Delmarva rotation.
ETA: 2015

8. Dan Klein, RHP
DOB
: 7/27/88
Height/Weight: 6’2/190
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 3rd round, 2010, UCLA
2011 Stats: 1.15 ERA (15.2-9-3-21) at High A (7 G), 1.08 ERA (16.2-14-3-16) at AA (9 G)
Tools Profile: Unique reliever with a deep arsenal but troubling injury history.

Year in Review: Looked like he was lined up for a September call-up before shoulder problems loomed again, this time leading to surgery.
The Good: Klein has quality stuff with three pitches grading out as 55-60 on the scouting scale. His fastball sits at 91-94 mph and has plenty of movement, while his curveball features heavy break and his changeup has plenty of depth. He throws all of his pitches for strikes, throws them at any point in the count, and hitters never have a feel for what is coming next.
The Bad: While Klein has the body and arsenal of a starter, he's yet to prove he can even handle a reliever's workload, as he's now had two shoulder procedures in the last three years. While it's unlikely that he'll ever start, he doesn't have the monster power stuff of a closer either.
Ephemera: The Orioles also drafted Klein out of Servite High School in 2007, where he also was a two-time offensive MVP award-winner as a quarterback.
Perfect World Projection: Late-inning reliever, but his stuff is short of closer-worthy.
Fantasy Impact: Limited.
Path to the Big Leagues: Klein is expected to be healthy for spring training, and if it stays that way, he could reach the big leagues by the end of the year.
ETA: Late 2012

9. Ryan Adams, 2B
DOB
: 4/21/87
Height/Weight: 5'11/185
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 2nd round, 2006, Jesuit HS (LA)
2011 Stats: .284/.341/.454 at Triple-A (94 G), .281/.333/.326 at MLB (29 G)
Tools Profile: Second baseman with some hitting ability, but not much else.

Year in Review: Found himself in the big leagues in September but did not do enough to guarantee a job in 2012.
The Good: Adams has offensive ability for a second baseman, as he is an average hitter with the capability of driving balls into the gap and hitting 10-12 home runs a year. He's worked hard on his defense and made dramatic improvements in his fundamentals there, as he tends to make the plays he gets to.
The Bad: Adams's numbers can be misleading, as he's a lefty crusher who is mediocre against right-handers. He expands his zone when behind in the count, and big league pitchers often made him look silly. He's a below-average runner whose range is limited at second base, and there's no projection in him, leaving most to believe he simply is what he is.
Ephemera: Adams was 10-for-18 in the second and fourth innings of big leagues games but hit just .211 (15-for-71) elsewhere.
Perfect World Projection: Second-division second baseman.
Fantasy Impact: Could surprise with double-digit home runs from second base, but that's about it.
Path to the Big Leagues: Adams's 2012 situation will be defined by Baltimore's off-season and the health of Brian Roberts, who never returned from last year's concussion. He could be the starting second baseman, a big league utility player, or find himself back at Triple-A.
ETA: 2012

10. L.J. Hoes, OF
DOB
: 3/5/90
Height/Weight: 6’1/181
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 3rd round, 2008, St. John's HS (DC)
2011 Stats: .241/.297/.342 at High A (41 G), .305/.379/.413 at AA (95 G)
Tools Profile: A mismatch as a corner outfielder without secondary skills.

Year in Review: Proved a lot by hitting over .300 at Double-A but left scouts wondering what else he can do.
The Good: Hoes is one of the better pure hitters in the system. He has excellent barrel control, laces line drives all over the field, and knows how to wait for his pitch to hit. While not a burner, he's an above-average runner who should be capable of double-digit stolen base totals.
The Bad: A former infielder, Hoes doesn't have the instincts for center or the arm for right, and he lacks anything close to the power normally associated with a left fielder. While he makes consistent contact, he has a tendency to swing on top of balls, leading to plenty of ground balls.
Ephemera: While Hoes hit just six home runs in Double-A, he had a pair of multi-home run games that came within three days of each other.
Perfect World Projection: Big league outfielder but likely better suited for a fourth outfielder role.
Fantasy Impact: Some average and a handful of stolen bases, but likely only a player of interest in deep leagues.
Path to the Big Leagues: Depending on the numbers game, Hoes could begin 2012 as high as Triple-A with an outside shot at a September look.
ETA: 2013

11. Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP
DOB
: 4/7/93
Height/Weight: 6’2/175
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: 2010, Venezuela
2011 Stats: 1.81 ERA (44.2-28-17-46) at Rookie (11 G), 6.75 ERA (4.0-6-1-4) at Low A (1 G)
Tools Profile: Southpaw with plenty of polish and a bit of stuff.

Year in Review: Venezuelan limited Gulf Coast League hitters to a .177 batting average in U.S. debut.
The Good: Rodriguez has average velocity but can bump 92-93 at times, and some funk and deception in his delivery adds a sneaky element to the pitch. His best pitch is a plus curveball, and he'll flash an average changeup. He's a good athlete who earns praise for his feel and control.
The Bad: Rodriguez doesn't have a big arm, so his margin for error is smaller than that of a power pitcher. His delivery gives some scouts pause, but it seems to work for him. He'll still need to work on his changeup to remain a starter, and he needs to prove he can handle a full workload.
Ephemera: Of the 33 left-handed batters that Rodriguez faced in the Gulf Coast League, 19 of them ended their plate appearance with a walk (seven) or strikeout (twelve).
Perfect World Projection: Rotation stalwart, most likely in the back of a rotation, but with an outside shot at reaching a number-three ceiling.
Fantasy Impact: Solid but unspectacular across the board.
Path to the Big Leagues: Lopez is advanced and might be able to handle a full-season assignment, but he will likely begin the 2012 season in extended spring training before pitching in the New York Penn League.
ETA: 2015

The Sleeper: A 21-year-old Dominican who just pitched in the Gulf Coast League, left-hander Jorge Rivera has above average velocity and a plus curveball and projects as a potential reliever with more than just situational potential.

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/86 or later)
1. Dylan Bundy, RHP
2. Matt Wieters, C
3. Manny Machado, SS
4. Zach Britton, LHP
5. Jonathan Schoop, INF
6. Brian Matusz, LHP
7. Nick Delmonico, 3B
8. Josh Bell, 3B
9. Jason Esposito, 3B
10. Tommy Hunter, RHP

Wieters began to come into his own in 2011, and it should be noticed that catchers often take longer than others to reach their peak due to the additional demands of their job. He was an All-Star in 2011 and will be again in 2012, only better. Opponents caught up to Britton in the second half of last year, so he'll need to make adjustments and utilize his secondary offerings more, but the ability to do so is there. Matusz is a dart throw, and the number of thoughts about exactly what has gone wrong are as wide-ranging as the projections for what he does in 2012; what you are looking at is the mid-range. Bell has regressed but still might be the best third baseman the team has right now. Hunter is a somewhat-established back-end starter, but his inability to miss bats is a huge concern.

Summary: The Orioles have a significant one-two combination in Bundy and Machado, but things go quickly downhill from there, and the system just doesn't match up with other American League East powerhouses. Nor does the talent at the big league level. Nor does the ownership. It's not going to be easy for new general manager Dan Duquette.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

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