Previous Rankings: 2010 | 2009 | 2008

System In 20 Words Or Less: It's bad for all the right reasons as plenty of prospects graduate, but now it's suddenly among thinnest in game.

Five-Star Prospects
1. Manny Machado, SS
2. Zach Britton, LHP
Three-Star Prospects
3. L.J. Hoes, 2B
4. Xavier Avery, OF

5. Dan Klein, RHP
6. Jonathan Schoop, SS
Two-Star Prospects
7. Ryan Adams, 2B
8. Joe Mahoney, 1B
9. Connor Narron, SS
10. Parker Bridwell, RHP
11. Mychal Givens, SS

Nine More:
12. Robert Bundy, RHP: This 20-year-old has plus stuff; he just needs to figure out how to harness it.
13. Brandon Snyder, 1B:  A Triple-A collapse hurt his prospect status; his swing still has some believers.
14. Pedro Beato, RHP: His power stuff flourished in bullpen role, and he could hit the big leagues by September.
15. Wynn Pelzer, RHP: The Orioles hope the righty received from Padres for Miguel Tejada can be this year's Beato.
16. Caleb Joseph, C: 2009's breakout was 2010's collapse; he remains an athletic catcher with gap power.
17. Brandon Waring, 3B: Waring has the best raw power in system, but he's not a good third baseman and has way too many Ks.
18. Ryan Berry, RHP: Berry has a good breaking ball and command, but a lack of velocity will catch up to him.
19. Brandon Erbe, RHP: His inconsistent showing at Triple-A was derailed by shoulder surgery.
20. Matt Hobgood, RHP: The fifth overall pick in 2009 was out of shape with mediocre-at-best stuff.

1. Manny Machado, SS
: 7/6/92
Height/Weight: 6-3/185
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010, Brito HS (FL)
2010 Stats: .143/.143/.571 at Rookie (2 G); .345/.406/.448 at Short-season (7 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Hit/run

Year in Review: This Florida shortstop began the year ranked as the top high school position player, stayed there all spring, and was a no-brainer with the third overall pick in the draft.
The Good: All of Machado's tools rate as average or better. His combination of bat speed and upper-tier hand-eye coordination should lead to consistently high batting averages, while his strong wrists and broad shoulders have many projecting average power down the road. He's an instinctual shortstop who can make plays to both sides look easy while showing the kind of actions rarely found in teenagers. His arm is a tick above average, and he's a solid runner.
The Bad: Machado's ultimate position could play a role in determining his future value. Some scouts wonder if he'll lose some speed as his body matures, but his defensive skills and hitting ability still have star potential if he's forced to third base.
Ephemera: Of the six shortstops taken with the third overall pick prior to Machado, two of them, Robin Yount (1973) and Paul Molitor (1977), were elected to the Hall of Fame.
Perfect World Projection: He could be an All-Star left-side infielder.
Fantasy Impact: He'll certainly provide batting average, but he also has the potential to put up big run-production numbers at a premium position.
Path to the Big Leagues: The Orioles have plenty of young shortstops, but Machado is the big prize and will be the everyday shortstop at Low-A Delmarva in 2011.
ETA: Late 2013.

2. Zach Britton, LHP
: 12/22/87
Height/Weight: 6-3/195
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: Third round, 2007, Weatherford HS (TX)
2010 Stats: 2.48 ERA (87.0-76-28-68) at Double-A (15 G); 2.98 ERA (66.1-63-23-56) at Triple-A (12 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Sinker/breaking ball

Year in Review: This ground-ball specialist saw his stuff take another step forward, putting him on the brink of the majors.
The Good: There are scouts who would take Britton over any young pitcher the Orioles have, including the big-leaguers. His low-90s sinker is the best amongst all prospects in the game with darting, heavy sink. He's gained velocity on a four-seam fastball that gets up to 95 mph, and is capable of generating plenty of swings and misses. His changeup is yet another plus pitch with heavy drop, and he repeats his athletic delivery well, staying ahead of hitters with an attacking style that features his entire arsenal.
The Bad: Britton's slider is an average pitch, but he has a tendency to overthrow it, costing him movement and turning it into a sweeping offering. There are games where he has trouble controlling his secondary pitches.
Ephemera: Of the 161 batters who faced Britton leading off an inning in 2010, only one, Detroit propsect Cale Iorg, hit a home run.
Perfect World Projection: He may be an All-Star level starter, with one scout calling him a left-handed version of Brandon Webb.
Fantasy Impact: He's not going to put up elite-level strikeout numbers, but he'll be plenty good in the wins and ERA categories.
Path to the Big Leagues: For now, Britton will begin 2011 back at Triple-A Norfolk, but he has the ability to pitch his way into the majors at some point during the season.
ETA: 2011.

3. L.J. Hoes, 2B
: 3/5/90
Height/Weight: 6-1/181
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Third round, 2008, St. John's HS (Washington, DC)
2010 Stats: .464/.531/.821 at Short-Season (8 G); .278/.375/.368 at High-A (97 G); .222/.222/.222 at Double-A (3 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Hit/glove

Year in Review: This middle infielder was one of the best stories in the system before mononucleosis caused him to miss seven weeks in the middle of the season and weaken him for the remainder of the year.
The Good: Hoes' ability to lace line drives to all fields while utilizing a patient approach has many scouts visualizing him as an ideal two-spot hitter in the big leagues. He's willing to take a walk, and his quick hands should produce gap power as he matures. While he's not a base-stealing threat, he runs well, and even better when he gets going, with first-to-third times that rate as plus.
The Bad: Hoes was converted to second base as a pro, and he's still quite rough there, often booting the most routine ground balls while also struggling on his double-play pivots. It's essential that he stays at the position, as it's the only up-the-middle position he fits at, and he lacks the power to play elsewhere.
Ephemera: Only three players have ever been drafted out of St. John's, a private school more famous for its business and government alumni, including Jim Kimsey, the first CEO of AOL, Under Armour founder Kevin Plank, and Michael Carns, a former four-star general and Vice Chief of Staff in the Air Force.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a good everyday second baseman with average and on-base skills.
Fantasy Impact: Hoes may only provide help in the batting average and runs categories.
Path to the Big Leagues: Born in Bowie, Hoes will likely spend all of the 2011 season at the Baltimore Double-A affiliate in his hometown, and the Orioles are excited to see what he can do with a healthy full season.
ETA: 2012.

4. Xavier Avery, OF
: 1/1/90
Height/Weight: 5-11/180
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2008, Cedar Grove HS (GA)
2010 Stats: .280/.349/.389 at High-A (109 G); .234/.288/.374 at Double-A (27 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Speed/power

Year in Review: The best athlete in the system made great strides during the regular season.
The Good: Avery's potential leadoff skill set is hard to find. He made significant improvements in his approach during the regular season, which
combined with smoother hitting mechanicsfinally led to some results on the stat sheet. He's a 70 runner on the 20-80 scale, which should give him the ability to affect games both on the basepaths and in the field.
The Bad: One talent evaluator called Avery “a player succeeding on SEC football athleticism,” as he's still quite raw in terms of baseball instincts and needs his speed in center field to make up for poor jumps. His 130 strikeouts are quite high for a potential leadoff hitter, as he still chases breaking balls far too often. His contact-oriented approach provides little projection for power.
Ephemera: Avery struggled at Bowie in 2009, but especially in his most important task, as he went just 5-for-42 (.119) when leading off an inning for the BaySox.
Perfect World Projection: He should be a solid everyday center fielder, but not a star.
Fantasy Impact: Avery could provide 30-plus stolen bases annually without hurting your batting average.
Path to the Big Leagues: Avery will return to Bowie in 2011.
ETA: Late 2012.

5. Dan Klein, RHP
: 7/27/88
Height/Weight: 6-3/190
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 2010, Third Round, UCLA
2010 Stats: 0.00 ERA (6.1-1-1-10) at Short-season (5 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Curveball/fastball

Year in Review: One of the top college relievers dominated in a brief pro debut.
The Good: Klein is a highly polished competitor with a complete arsenal. He can throw his 90-94 mph fastball for strikes, but he often uses the pitch to set up a stable of quality secondary offerings, the best of which is a classic 12-to-6 biting curve. He has a quality changeup as well, and even mixes in an average slider from time to time.
The Bad: Klein doesn't have the stuff to profile as a late-innings reliever. As a starter, he's unproven in terms of workload, and has a shoulder surgery in his past. Many scouts see him as an 'is-what-he-is' type with little projection.
Ephemera: The Orioles have been on Klein for years, selecting him in the 24th round of the 2007 draft out of Servite High School in Anaheim, the same school that graduated former All-Star Mike Witt.
Perfect World Projection: Klein could be a good middle reliever or fourth starter.
Fantasy Impact: As a reliever, he's not the type who will get saves; as a starter, he has far more real-world value.
Path to the Big Leagues: Klein has the ability to begin his first full season at High-A Frederick, likely in the Keys

ETA: 2013; earlier out of the bullpen.

6. Jonathan Schoop, SS
: 10/6/91
Height/Weight: 6-1/187
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 2008, Curacao
2010 Stats: .250/.329/.467 at Rookie (Gulf Coast) (17 G); .316/.372/.459 at Rookie (Appalachian) (39 G); .238/.273/.381 at High-A (6 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Arm/speed

Year in Review: This Caribbean teenager impressed in his stateside debut, but he left some questions about his position.
The Good: Schoop is a big, athletic player who offers plenty of projection. He has a good feel for the strike zone, and is a sound hitter who makes surprisingly consistent contact for his age, while projecting for average power once he adds bulk to his frame. His defense is solid in terms of instincts and actions, while his arm is well above average, as he made several impressive throws from the hole during his Appalachian League stint.
The Bad: Schoop is only an average runner and likely to slow down as he matures, leaving many to project him as a third baseman down the road and leading to a greater need for his power to come through. His swing can get a bit hitchy and long.
Ephemera: Schoop's older brother, Sharlon, is a prospect in the Giants' system who reached Double-A this year. Sharlon is more of a pure shortstop than his brother but not nearly the offensive prospect.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a solid everyday third baseman with an outside shot of having greater value as a shortstop.
Fantasy Impact: As an offensive shortstop, he could be quite valuable. As a third baseman, not so much.
Path to the Big Leagues: Unless the Orioles want to slide Schoop over prematurely, the 19-year-old will likely stay back in extended spring training and play in the New York-Penn League at Aberdeen in 2011.
ETA: 2014.

7. Ryan Adams, 2B
DOB: 4/21/87
Height/Weight: 6-0/195
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2006, Jesuit HS (LA)
2010 Stats: .298/.365/.464 at Double-A (134 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Hit/glove

Year in Review: After putting up good numbers in each of his first two full seasons, this former second-round pick proved himself at Double-A while showing unprecedented power.
The Good: Adams is an instinctual hitter with outstanding plate coverage and rapidly improving power, as he has begun to drive balls more consistently by better identifying pitches he can punish. Many see his 43 doubles in 2010 turning into home runs in future years.
The Bad: Scouts are concerned about Adams' lack of physicality or athleticism, and he's a poor infielder who looked sloppy at both second and third base in 2010. He's a 40 runner on the 20-80 scale, and if he can't stay in the infield, he doesn't have enough bat to profile well as a corner outfielder. He hits lefties considerably better than right-handers.
Ephemera: Jesuit High School in New Orleans has produced eight major-league draft picks, the most famous of which is Will Clark, who didn't sign when the Royals selected him in the fourth round in 1982.
Perfect World Projection: He'd be an offense-first infielder, hopefully at second base.
Fantasy Impact: He could provide well above-average run production as a second baseman, but he's marginal at other positions.
Path to the Big Leagues: Adams will move up to Triple-A Norfolk in 2011, but team officials will be watching his glove more than his bat to see if he's big-league ready.
ETA: Late 2011.

8. Joe Mahoney, 1B
: 2/1/87
Height/Weight: 6-7/255
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: Sixth round, 2007, University of Richmond
2010 Stats: .299/.358/.465 at High-A (72 G); .319/.378/.545 at Double-A (52 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Raw power/speed

Year in Review: This gigantic first baseman hit across two levels and earned Orioles minor-league player of the year honors.
The Good: Any discussion concerning Mahoney begins with his size, as he's physically massive with as much strength and raw power as anyone in the system. He's also an intrinsically good hitter who rarely gets tied up by lefties, and makes more contact than one would expect from a 6-foot-7 power hitter. He's a surprisingly good athlete for his size, with range at first base and speed that is only a tick or two below average.
The Bad: If anything, Mahoney doesn't use his power often enough, as he sometimes seems content with flicking his bat into the strike zone and focusing on contact. His defense at first base is a bit rough around the edges, which can be improved with instruction and repetition. Like all first basemen, he just needs to keep hitting or his prospect status will suffer.
Ephemera: Only three players drafted out of the University of Richmond have hit home runs in the major leagues: Andy Allanson (1983), Brian Jordan (1988), and Sean Casey (1995).
Perfect World Projection: Mahoney could be an everyday first baseman who fills a glaring need in Baltimore.
Fantasy Impact: He'll have power production, to be sure, but not much else.
Path to the Big Leagues: Mahoney sprained his right wrist during his first winter league game of the year in Venezuela, but he'll be healthy for spring and will likely begin the year back at Bowie, though he's not expected to finish there.
ETA: 2012.

9. Connor Narron, SS
: 11/12/91
Height/Weight: 6-3/195
Bats/Throws: B/R
Drafted/Signed: Fifth round, 2010, C.B. Aycock HS (NC)
2010 Stats: .206/.282/.206 at Rookie (11 G); .121/.216/.152 at Short-Season (8 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Hit/speed

Year in Review: Considered a tough sign after disappointing in his senior season, the Orioles did their signability homework and inked Narron to a $650,000 bonus.
The Good: Narron is a dangerous switch-hitter with a smooth, quiet swing from both sides, and a broad-shouldered frame that produces plenty of power. He has excellent hands defensively to go with a smooth transfer and solid arm strength. Narron comes from a baseball family, as his father, Jerry, played and managed in the major leagues. He carries himself like a big-leaguer as a teenager, and has instincts beyond his years.
The Bad: Narron lacks the athleticism to stay up the middle as a pro. He's a below-average runner who will likely slide over to third early in his career, if not immediately. He has very little exposure to top-level pitching, and will probably suffer through an initial adjustment period.
Ephemera: Narron is the only player ever drafted out of Aycock High in the tiny town of Pikeville, North Carolina, home to a population of 704.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a good everyday third baseman.
Fantasy Impact: He's very far away, but as an everyday player with average and power, there's plenty to dream on.
Path to the Big Leagues: Narron will begin 2011 in extended spring training, barring remarkable progress.
ETA: 2014.

10. Parker Bridwell, RHP
: 8/2/91
Height/Weight: 6-4/190
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Ninth round, 2010, Hereford HS (TX)
2010 Stats: 5.40 ERA (1.2-1-3-4) at Rookie (2 G); 0.00 ERA (4.0-3-1-2) at Short-Season (2 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Arm strength/secondary pitches

Year in Review: The O's continued their new aggressive approach in the draft by giving the ninth-round pick $625,000 to steer him away from Texas Tech.
The Good: Bridwell's long-limbed frame and athleticism scream projection. He had college options as a star quarterback, and has a strong delivery with an 88-91 mph fastball that scrapes 93-94 when everything goes right. Scouts think that kind of velocity will become more regular now that he's dedicated to pitching, and he earns strong marks for his makeup and work ethic.
The Bad: Bridwell is raw, and will need plenty of development. He needs to tighten his slurvy breaking ball, but he gets good spin on it, and the pitch has promise. His change-up is nearly non-existent, and his mechanics need smoothing out.
Ephemera: Hereford cattle are named after Bridwell's hometown, which is known as “The Beef Capitol of the World.”
Perfect World Projection: The gap between what Bridwell is now and his potential is massive, as he has a considerably high ceiling.
Fantasy Impact: He's so far away from this even being a concern.
Path to the Big Leagues: Bridwell has an outside shot at a full-season assignment, but he will likely pitch for a short-season team in 2011.
ETA: 2015.

11. Mychal Givens, SS
: 5/13/90
Height/Weight: 6-1/190
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2009, Plant HS (FL)
2010 Stats: .207/.207/.276 at Rookie (7 G); .364/.488/.727 at Short-season (8 G); .222/.444/.222 at Low-A (7 G); .500/.600/.500 at High-A (1 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Arm/bat

Year in Review: Expected to begin 2010 with a short-season club, Givens excelled in spring training to earn a May assignment to Low-A, but he lasted just seven games before a thumb injury all but ended his year.
The Good: Givens is one of the better athletes in the system, with a tick above average speed, and a surprising amount of juice in his bat to go with good defensive skills and a strong arm. He works the count well, and has a simple swing that has resulted in just 10 strikeouts in his first 102 plate appearances as a pro.
The Bad: Givens was considered raw when drafted, and he'll turn 21 in May while entering 2011 with just 23 games of pro experience. His range is a bit light at shortstop, but he has the athleticism to stick up the middle as a second baseman. More than anything, he just needs to stay healthy and get his at-bats.
Ephemera: While Givens is the only player ever drafted out of Plant High School in Tampa, the school did graduate Wade Boggs, NFL wide receiver Mike Williams, and the late schizophrenic artist/musician Wesley Willis.
Perfect World Projection: He could be an everyday middle infielder with a bit of power and speed.
Fantasy Impact: Givens could produce a bit in every category, but not on an impact level in any of them.
Path to the Big Leagues: It's a bit clouded, as he's not ready for High-A. Machado will be the everyday shortstop at Delmarva. Givens will be challenged in 2011 by either an assignment or a position change.
ETA: 2014.

The Sleeper: While he's not the pitcher he was prior to shoulder surgery, right-hander Chorye Spoone still has a big-league sinker and could move forward with improved command and control.

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/85 or later)
1. Brian Matusz, LHP
2. Adam Jones, CF
3. Matt Wieters, C
4. Manny Machado, SS
5. Zach Britton, LHP
6. Jake Arrieta, RHP
7. Josh Bell, 3B
8. L.J. Hoes, 2B
9. Xavier Avery, OF
10. Brad Bergesen, RHP

While Matusz's final numbers in 2010 weren't especially brilliant, he showed flashes of star-level ability, and made 14 of his 32 starts against the top-flight offenses of the American League East. Expect more consistency in 2011; he's an excellent pick for a breakout. Jones is always a similar candidate, with scouts still believing in the tools and deriving optimism from some of the adjustments he made during the second half of the season. Will Wieters ever be anything close to the hitter he was in the minors? His skeptics among the scouting community seem to be growing, and he's only ahead of Machado because he's already there. He could hit .285 with 25 home runs next year, or he could repeat last year's .695 OPS; I'm not sure either would be a surprise. Arrieta stopped missing bats in the big leagues, and needs to find a more dependable secondary pitch. While his fastball is excellent, nobody in the big leagues can survive with just one pitch. Bell was a disappointment both at Triple-A and the big leagues, but at least the offensive and defensive tool set is still there. Bergesen was a dependable back-of-the-rotation starter last year, but now he has to prove that can last with a disturbingly low strikeout rate.

Summary: The Orioles have the young talent to turn into a winning club for the first time since 1997, but right now the system seems unable to turn them into true playoff contenders in baseball's toughest division.