2014 Baltimore Orioles Top 10 Prospects

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After a long delay – something measured in the months, not days –  I have a bit of an announcement to make: I will be publishing the first ever Prospect Digest Annual sometime late January/early February.

The Prospect Digest Annual will feature each organization’s Top 30 Prospects, ranking the farm systems, and several additional articles.

Until the big day happens, I will be posting each organization’s Top 10 Prospects, starting with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Enjoy!

For more Top Prospects click HERE

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1. Kevin Gausman, Position: RHP, Age: 23

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

AA

46.1

3.11

2.59

9.52

0.97

25.7%

2.6%

0.58

48.5%

AAA

35.2

4.04

3.28

8.33

2.27

23.1%

6.3%

0.25

47.0%

MLB

47.2

5.66

3.15

9.25

2.45

24.4%

6.5%

1.51

43.0%

Profile: In a calculated move, right or wrong, the Orioles stopped Gausman’s workload and service time just short of the MLB rookie eligibility rules, essentially making the right-hander the frontrunner for AL Rookie of the Year in 2014. Gausman, the fourth pick in the 2012 draft, began the year by dominating Double-A and spent the final few months alternating between Norfolk and Baltimore. Between the stops, he fanned 24.49% of the hitters he faced last season.

Analysis: A plus- to plus-plus fastball, above-average or better control, and the ability to generate a lot of groundballs, Gausman’s an elite pitching prospect with the ceiling of a true #1. Never mind the horrific looking ERA with Baltimore, his SIERA, 3.15, is more indicative of his elite-type talent.

Ceiling: 6.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Above-Average to Inevitable

 

2. Dylan Bundy, Position: RHP, Age: 21

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Profile: Bundy, one of the most pitching prospects over the last decade-plus, missed the entire 2013 season and is expected to miss parts of 2014 as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.

Analysis: Following his debut in low Class A, the expectations for Bundy were almost unattainable. And most of them were undeserved too. The fourth pick in the 2011 draft tossed 30 scoreless innings in the South Atlantic League to begin his career, an impressive feat. But he didn’t turn the lineup over twice until his final two starts. Assuming he recovers fully, Bundy still looks like a future ace, but he’s not going to be the greatest pitcher on earth, either. 

Ceiling: 5.0- to 5.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

3. Jonathan Schoop, Position: 2B/SS, Age: 22

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

AAA

289

93

.256

.301

.396

4.5%

19.0%

.141

11

0

9

1/3

MLB

15

128

.286

.333

.500

6.7%

13.3%

.214

0

0

1

0/0

Profile: The Orioles haven’t been shy about aggressively pushing top prospects through the system. Both Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy made their respective big league debuts just one season after being drafted. And Schoop is just another example of that modus operandi. After hitting .290/.350/.453 and .290/.349/.432 in 2010 and 2011, the front office pushed the then 20-year-old to Double-A two years ago and again to Triple-A in 2013, despite mediocre results.

Analysis: Schoop’s essentially been a league average bat during his time in Bowie and Norfolk. And, quite frankly, the young second baseman could be among the biggest breakout prospects in 2014. He’s been incredibly young for the levels of competition, shown decent walk rates and solid-average power. He’s going to be a very good Major League player, peaking as a potential All-Star and .300/.360/.460-type hitter with 20-HR pop.

Ceiling: 4.0- to 4.5

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average


4. Eduardo Rodriguez, Position: LHP, Age: 21

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

A+

85.1

2.85

4.03

6.96

2.64

18.8%

7.1%%

0.42

43.0%

AA

59.2

4.22

3.68

8.90

3.62

23.4%

9.5%

0.75

40.1%

Profile: Among the system’s biggest risers in 2013, Rodriguez split his time between high Class A and Class AA, throwing 145.0 combined innings with 125 punch outs and 49 walks. He finished the year with a solid 3.89 SIERA.

Analysis: Well-built, the 6-foot-2 Rodriguez is, unsurprisingly, on Baltimore’s fast-track for prospects. He’s not in the same class as Gausman or Bundy, but he could peak as a #2 for a few seasons before settling in as a nice #3 for the better part of his career.

Ceiling: 3.5- to 4.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

 

5. Michael Ohlman, Position: C, Age: 23

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

A+

424

159

.313

.410

.524

13.2%

21.9%

.211

29

4

13

5/5

Profile: Life’s about redemption, second chances. And Ohlman, whose career looked like it passed him by before it even got going, is just another example. On the heels of horrifically poor showings in 2010 and 2011, Ohlman was suspended for 50 games due to a drug of abuse. Since then, however, the young backstop has been, well, spectacular, hitting .300/.400/.460 and .313/.410/.524.

Analysis: Ohlman spent half of his games hitting in the bandbox known as Harry Grove Stadium, which inflates homerun totals like the Coors Field of old. But according to Weighted Runs Created Plus, a league and park adjusted stat, Ohlman finished the year 59% better than the league average. He’s shown a solid-average hit tool with the chance to be above-average, developing power, and an elite eye at the plate. Redemption: a beautiful thing.

Ceiling: 3.5- to 4.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

6. Hunter Harvey, Position: RHP, Age: 19

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

RK

13.1

1.35

1.56

12.15

1.35

36.0%

4.0%

0.00

46.7%

A-

12.0

2.25

2.34

11.25

3.00

30.0%

8.0%

0.00

67.7%

Profile: For the third consecutive year and five of the last six times Baltimore grabbed a pitcher with its first pick in the draft. Harvey, the 22nd overall pick, tossed 25.1 innings across two levels – SHOCKER! – with 33 punch outs and six free passes.

Analysis: The initial returns – albeit in an incredibly short sample size – are impressive nonetheless. He finished the year by making three starts in short-season ball, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Harvey begin 2014 in low Class A.

Ceiling: Too Soon to Tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A

 

7. Zach Davies, Position: RHP, Age: 21

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

A+

148.2

3.69

3.49

7.99

2.30

21.3%

6.1%

0.61

47.5%

Profile: A tremendous find in the 26th round in the 2011 draft – of course offering more than half of a million bucks will help – Davies spent the year in high Class A, showing some solid peripherals against the older competition. The average Carolina League hitter was two years Davies’ senior.

Analysis: A career groundball rate near 50% and large improvements in his strikeout and walk rates as he moved up a level. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Davies finish 2014 in Norfolk. He could be a decent mid-rotation guy.

Ceiling: 3.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

 

8. Mike Wright, Position: RHP, Age: 24

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

AA

143.2

3.26

3.52

8.52

2.44

21.8%

6.2%

0.56

40.2%

AAA

6.2

0.00

5.10

2.70

0.00

7.7%

0.00%

0.00

33.3%

Profile: One of the few top prospects on the normal develop plan, Wright tied his career best K-rate, 8.3 K/9, while maintaining his trademark control. The former third round pick was a nice scouting find for the Orioles as the right-hander showed middling peripherals during his final year at East Carolina.

Analysis: A nice mid- to back-rotation prospect. The K-rate last season is cause for at least a little concern considering it was just 6.6 K/9 the prior year. But the control/command will play. A #3/4-type guy, innings-eater. 

Ceiling: 2.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

 

9. Christian Walker, Position: 1B, Age: 23

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

A+

239

126

.288

.343

.479

7.1%

17.2%

.191

17

0

8

2/2

AA

69

82

.242

.319

.323

8.7%

14.5%

.081

5

0

0

0/0

Profile: A tremendous value in the fourth round two years ago (see a trend forming?) the former South Carolina slugger hit .300/.362/.453 across three levels last season, adding 27 doubles and 11 homeruns.

Analysis: Walker has never really displayed the type of true power associated with the position while in college, and it’s much the same through the first 125 games of his career. He’s hit 32 doubles and just 13 homeruns. Eventually the doubles will start to turn into homeruns, but he may never reach 20 in a season. The walk rates are largely average, too.

Ceiling: 2.0- to 2.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

 

10. Branden Kline, Position: RHP, Age: 22

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

A

35.1

5.86

3.89

8.15

3.57

19.9%

8.7%

1.02

46.0%

Profile: Coming out of the University of Virginia, the 6-foot-3 right-hander flashed some strikeout potential – he fanned 150 over his last 136.2 collegiate innings – and some control issues. Baltimore selected Kline in the second round two seasons ago. He made just seven starts last season, thanks to a leg injury suffered during in-season workouts.

Analysis: Kline’s thrown fewer than 50 professional innings, and the leg injury pushed him a year behind on the development curve. There’s really not much to go on.

Ceiling: 2.0- to 2.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

 

 



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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