2013 Baltimore Orioles Top Prospects

 

System OverviewLed by potential aces Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman — and to a lesser extent infielder Jonathan Schoop and Nick Delmonico — this is a very top-heavy system, one that noticeably weakens after the seventh or eighth prospect.

Catcher Michael Ohlman rebounded after a string of disappointing seasons followed by a 50-game drug suspension; Branden Kline has the ability to develop into a useful member of a rotation, but his control/command, which plagued him in college, could ultimately limit his ceiling as a good bullpen arm. And teenaged hurler Eduardo Rodriguez displayed poise beyond his years in A-ball last season.

The early returns on the 2012 draft seem favorable, a few members making the organization’s top 16 prospects. But the players found in the second half of the list all profile now as role-specific, not as everyday regulars.

 

#1. Dylan Bundy, Age: 20, Position: RHP

Bundy, who was nabbed with the fourth pick in the 2011 draft, made waves early in the season last year, throwing 20.0 innings before allowing a single (unearned) run to cross home plate. And after eight near-perfect starts with Delmarva (30 IP, 5 H, 40 K, and 2 BB), the organization bumped him to High-A, where his domination continued.

In 57 innings with the Keys, Bundy averaged 10.4 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, and sported an impressive 2.80 Skill Independent ERA (according to MinorLeagueCentral.com), or SIERA. He then capped off his professional debut with three starts in Double-A (16.2 IP, 13 K and 8 BB).

In total, the teenaged right-hander tossed 103.2 innings, with 119 punch outs and just 28 walks.

Projection: There’s really only one word to describe Bundy’s 2012: dominant. He’s likely headed back to minors this season, but has a legitimate shot at making his big league debut before the end of the year. The Orioles have taken a cautious approach — perhaps a bit too cautious — so he’s still at least two years away from throwing 180+ innings. He’s a legitimate ace in the making, the type who can dominate atop a rotation for a decade-plus.

Ceiling: 6.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Above-Average to Inevitable

 

#2. Kevin Gausman, Age: 22, Position: RHP

The first collegiate arm taken in last June’s amateur draft, Gausman, who was nabbed out of LSU with the fourth overall pick, stood above the SEC competition during his final year. In 18 games (17 starts), the 6-foot-4 right-hander averaged 9.92 K/9 and just 2.04 BB/9 in 123.2 innings of work. He tossed an additional 15 innings in pro ball, striking out 13 and walking one.

Projection: Per the usual, any long term projections for recent draft picks will be withheld until the following season. But Gausman performed well in a tough collegiate division. And barring any major developmental setbacks, he could be poised to make a late season debut with the Orioles in 2013.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A

Update:  After absolutely dominating the Double-A competition through his first eight starts this season (46.1 IP, 9.52 K/9 and 0.97 BB/9), the Orioles wisely decided to call up the right-hander to help bolster the rotation. During his debut (5/23/13), Gausman’s fastball averaged 96.5 mph and touched as high as 99. He also showed a mid 80s slider/cutter and change up. 

 

#3. Jonathan Schoop, Age: 21, Position: 2B/SS

Schoop’s overall line in the Eastern League last season — .245/.324/.386 with 24 doubles, one triple, 14 homeruns and five stolen bases — looks rather mundane, vanilla at best. In fact, his total offensive production, according to Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+), was actually 3% below the league average. However, he was one of just three qualified everyday players in the EL under the age of 21.

Projection: The long term answer at second base for the Orioles, Schoop showed a lot of developmental progress for Bowie last season. He posted the highest walk rate of his career (9.0%); his power rebounded after nearly evaporating during a half season in High-A, though some of his homeruns can be attributed to his home ball park, and his defense continues to look fairly strong at the keystone. His production against RHs, however, nosedived after a decent showing the previous year. And he doesn’t nearly have the ceiling of his future double-play partner Manny Machado, but Schoop profiles as a solid .290/.340/.440-type hitter, capable of adding 30 doubles, 15 homeruns and maybe 10 stolen bases.

Ceiling: 3.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

 

#4. Nick Delmonico, Age: 20, Position: 1B/2B

A nice find in the sixth round of the 2011 draft, Delmonico bypassed both the Gulf Coast and Low-A levels and headed straight to the South Atlantic League to begin his debut. And in 95 games with the Shorebirds, the lefty-swinging infielder hit .249/.351/.411 with 22 doubles, 11 homeruns and eight stolen bases in nine attempts. His total offensive production was 14% better than the average, despite being one of just a handful of teenagers in the league.

Projection: Delmonico adjusted better than expected for a high schooler jumping straight into A-ball. He showed above-average to elite level of patience (12% BB-rate), strong contract skills, solid power despite playing half of his games in a pitcher’s park, and a smattering of speed. Defensively, he spent about a third of the time at second, where his bat plays far better. If he stays at first, his power is really going to have to develop in the coming years, because right now he profiles as a 20+ homerun guy.

Ceiling: 3.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

 

#5. Michael Ohlman, Age: 22, Position: C

After a string of disappointing seasons and a fifty game suspension for a “drug of abuse,” Ohlman finally started capitalizing on his potential, hitting .304/.411/.456 in 51 games for the Shorebirds last season. He added a pair of triples and homeruns, to go along with 16 doubles, and nabbed 38% of would-be base stealers. His wRC+ was 42% better than the league average.

Projection: After two disparaging seasons was Ohlman’s 51-game stint an aberration or a sign of things to come? He’s always shown a tremendous eye at the plate — he’s walked in 11.9% of his plate appearances — and his power spiked from below-average to only solid-average. But the reason to remain bullish, however, is the amount of contact he showed last season. During his 2011 season, Ohlman struck out 22.3% of the time. Last season, it was just 12.9%. Add in the uptick in patience, and it’s enough to convince me that the breakout was real.

Ceiling: 3.0- win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low

 

#6. Branden Kline, Age: 21, Position: RHP

Kline, nabbed in the second round out of the University of Virginia in last year’s draft, showed a strong ability to miss bats at the collegiate level during his final season (9.03 K/9), but his control/command left a lot to be desired. In 93.7 innings with the Cavaliers, the 6-foot-3 right-hander walked 43, or 4.13 BB/9.

Projection: Clearly, it’s still too early to guess what type of professional pitcher Kline is, let alone eventually develop into, but he’ll need to show some dramatic improvement in his walk rate going forward.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A

 

#7. Eduardo Rodriguez, Age: 20, Position: LHP

Very young and already solidly built, Rodriguez displayed a lot of promise with Delmarva last season, throwing 107 innings with 73 punch outs (6.1 K/9) and just 30 walks (2.5 BB/9). He also generated an above-average amount of groundballs as well (46.5%).

Projection: The below-average K-rate isn’t a concern yet for the 6-foot-2 lefty who averaged nearly a punch per inning during his two stints in rookie ball.  He doesn’t look to be a future frontline starter, but he could eventually settle into the middle of a big league rotation in a couple years — if he can see a slight uptick in strikeouts.

Ceiling: 2.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

 

#8. L.J. Hoes, Age: 23, Position: 2B/OF

Hoes continued his rise through the minor leagues without ever having a truly dominating level. After hitting .265/.368/.372 with Bowie, the organization pushed the defensive jack-of-all-trades to the International League where his production largely remained the same (.300/.374/.397).

Projection: Hoes is sort of ‘tweener. He does one thing really well — getting on-base — and another well enough (running). But his complete lack of power will almost assuredly relegate him to a reserve role, probably as a decent bench option against fellow right-handers, whom he’s hit .295/.374/.417 since 2011. His positional versatility helps too.

Ceiling: 1.0- to 1.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

 

#9. Zach Davies, Age: 20, Position: RHP

A potential late round gem, Davies, who was nabbed in the 26th round in 2011, jumped straight to A-ball last season, showing decent peripherals (7.2 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9) and getting a lot of groundballs (51.8%). Overall, he made 25 appearances (17 starts), throwing 114.1 innings with 91 strikeouts and 46 walks.

Projection: Davies more than held his own as high school kid jumping straight in the South Atlantic League. He’s not an overly strong prospect, but one that could develop into a useful #4 guy in a few years, especially once his frame starts to fill out.

Ceiling: 1.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low

 

#10. Tyler Wilson, Age: 23, Position: RHP

Wilson, who was picked in the 10th round two years ago, showed some very impressive peripherals across two levels last season, throwing 143 innings with 143 punch outs (9.0 K/9) and just 30 walks (1.9 BB/9) between A- and High-A.

Projection: Wilson, who was dominant at times, posted some intriguing numbers last season. But his overall production has to be looked at with at least a modicum of skepticism considering his age, 22, and collegiate background (University of Virginia). There’s some big league value in his right arm, be it in the back end of a rotation or bullpen.

Ceiling: 1.0- to 1.5-win (starter); 0.5- to 1.0-win (reliever)

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate (starter); Moderate (reliever)

 

#11. Christian Walker, Age: 22, Position: 1B

Walker, before being nabbed in the fourth round, mashed during his final year with South Carolina, hitting .321/.450/.525 with 12 doubles, a pair of triples, 11 homeruns and three stolen bases. He also sported an impressive 51-to-24 walk-to-strikeout-ratio too.

Projection: Collegiate sluggers, particularly those picked after the first round, historically haven’t translated well to the professional game, but the change in metal bats helps for better evaluation. He shows above-average power, very strong contact skills, and what should be an impressive eye at the plate. He’ll be 22 this season, so it’s important for him to get off to a fast start and find himself in a more age-appropriate level.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A

 

#12. Deven Jones, Age: 22, Position: RHP

Jones began the year in A-ball, making 19 appearances (54.1 innings) while averaging nearly a punch out an inning and just 11 walks. His peripherals, however, nosedived upon his promotion to High-A, to just 4.8 BB/9 and 2.0 BB/9.

Projection: Jones is a bit of a wild card. His showed some skills as a long reliever-type in A-ball. And while his K-rate will likely rebound somewhat as a starter, it remains to be seen just how much. He does have a strong feel for the zone and generates an elite amount of groundballs (50.5% since 2011).

Ceiling: 1.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

 

#13. Mike Wright, Age: 23, Position: RHP

A third rounder out of East Carolina University in 2011, Wright began the year by making eight solid starts in the Carolina League, averaging 6.8 K/9 and just 1.0 BB/9 in just over 46 innings of work. He was then promoted to Double-A for his final 12 starts, where he continued to show a strong ability to pound the strike zone (2.5 BB/9) without a whole lot of punch outs (6.5 K/9). He posted a combined 3.88 SIERA.

Projection: Wright, who stands 6-foot-5, is more about pitchability rather than actual power, though he does use his frame well when it comes to generating groundballs (46.8% in his career). The problem, however, is the sheer quantity of guys like him in the minors, pitchers that pound the zone and rely on inducing a lot of contact. Some pan out, most don’t. He could be a serviceable backend guy in the rotation, capable of chewing up some innings with a 4.50+ ERA. And likewise as a decent arm in the bullpen.

Ceiling: 1.5-win (starter); Replacement Level to 0.5-win (reliever)

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low (starter); Moderate (reliever)

 

#14. Adrian Marin, Age: 19, Position: SS

A nice little find in the third round last year, Marin hit .287/.339/.360 with seven doubles, three triples, and half a dozen stolen bases in the Gulf Coast.

Projection: Listed at 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds, Marin’s power probably won’t develop into anything more than slightly below-average, which would be quite a step up from last year’s showing. His walk rate, 5.6%, is also troubling.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A

 

#15. Xavier Avery, Age: 23, Position: OF

Avery was a bit of a disappointment with Norfolk last season, his first in Triple-A. In 102 games with the Tides, he hit .236/.330/.356 with 13 doubles, five triples, eight homeruns, and 22 stolen bases in 29 attempts. His total production was 7% below the league average.

Lack of production aside, Avery managed to find his way into 32 games with the big league club, with whom he hit .223/.305/.340.

Projection: At its core, Avery has a very similar skill set to that of fellow prospect L.J. Hoes. Both display above-average patience at the plate, little power, and above-average speed. Last year, Avery’s doubles power — he hit 31 with Bowie two years ago — started developing into a handful of more long balls, which, coincidentally or not, led to far fewer groundballs as well. Still, though, his ceiling is quite limited, especially considering his struggles against fellow LHs (.220/.304/.280 since 2011).

Ceiling: 1.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

#16. Josh Hader, Age: 19, Position: LHP

Found in last year’s 19th round, Hader blew away the rookie and Low-A competition during his debut, striking out 48 and walking just nine in 28.2 innings of work.

Projection: Big and projectable, Hader, who’s 6-foot-3 and just 160 pounds, performed far better than expected last season. But it was an extremely limited data, so it could a brief anomaly, or a sign of things to come.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A

 

 

Photo of Dylan Bundy Courtesy of Getty Images via CBSSports.com

 



About

After serving as a video scout/analyst for Baseball Info Solutions, Joe Werner began writing at his original site, ReleasePoints.com. He’s since transitioned into his current niche, prospect analysis, at ProspectDigest.com. He has been fortunate — and incredibly blessed — to have some of his work published and mentioned by several major media outlets, including: ESPN, Cleveland.com and the Baseball Research Journal. He can be reached at: JosephMWerner@yahoo.com.


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