2014 Top 10 Prospects: Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles front office doesn’t get enough credit for developing a solid, home-grown system that boasts some impressive talent — especially on the mound. The system lacks impact bats — outside of Jonathan Schoop — but the scouting staff acquired some intriguing hitters in the 2013 amateur draft.

 

#1 Dylan Bundy | 65/MLB (P)


Age IP K/9 BB/9 GB% ERA FIP xFIP RA9-WAR WAR
19 1.2 0.00 5.40 20.0 % 0.00 4.89 8.42 0.1 0.0

The Year in Review: Bundy entered 2013 as one of the Top 3 arms in the minor leagues but he blew out his elbow and underwent Tommy John surgery in late June. The talented right-hander didn’t pitch at all in 2013 because of his health issues.

The Scouting Report: Bundy’s stuff is undeniable but he also has excellent makeup, which helps him squeeze every ounce of ability out of his immense talent. His fastball sits in the mid to upper 90s and both his cutter and curveball show plus potential. His changeup should be average or better. Both his control and command have a chance to be plus attributes. The biggest concern with Bundy is his durability due to his recent surgery and modest frame.

The Year Ahead: Because he didn’t have surgery until late June, Bundy will likely miss most of 2014 but it’s possible he might get into some official game action in August. He likely won’t see any big league action during the coming season but stranger things have happened.

The Career Outlook: The injury certainly adds a level of uncertainty to Bundy’s future. However, most pitchers are able to recovery fully so the Oklahoma native could still reach his ceiling as a No. 1 or 2 starter at the big league level. Youth is certainly on his side as he didn’t turn 21 until November.

 

#2 Kevin Gausman | 60/MLB (P)


Age IP K/9 BB/9 GB% ERA FIP xFIP RA9-WAR WAR
22 47.2 9.25 2.45 42.0 % 5.66 3.99 3.04 -0.2 0.4

The Year in Review: The fourth overall pick in the 2012 amateur draft, Gausman reached the Majors in his first full professional season after spending half the year at both Double-A and Triple-A. A starter in college and during his minor league career, the right-hander pitched mostly out of the bullpen in the Majors. He struggled with his command and allowed 51 hits and eight homers in 47.2 innings of work.

The Scouting Report: The biggest knock on Gausman is his lack of a consistent breaking ball but his slider made strides in 2013. His fastball sits comfortably in the mid-90s and his splitter is a solid offering that could develop into a plus pitch. The right-hander has the frame to develop into an innings-eater and his athleticism helps him on the mound.

The Year Ahead: The Orioles’ inability to upgrade their pitching in the offseason (at least as of the date of this writing) makes Gausman an early favorite to break camp with the big league club. He has the present talent to step in and be a solid No. 4/5 starter — if not better.

The Career Outlook: Gausman’s rough introduction to The Show in 2013 should not cause anyone to doubt his future. He still has the talent to develop into a No. 2 starter at the big league level and it shouldn’t be too long before he rises to that lofty projection.

 

#3 Eduardo Rodriguez | 60/AA (P)


Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP
20 30 30 159.2 147 10 7.95 3.10 3.61 3.36

The Year in Review: The Venezuelan southpaw split the 2013 between High-A and Double-A. He showed above-average control for his age while walking 49 batters with 125 strikeouts in 145.0 combined innings. After he made 25 minor league starts during the regular season, Rodriguez compiled another five starts in the Arizona Fall League but was hit around a bit and posted a 5.52 ERA with 16 hits allowed in 14.2 innings of work.

The Scouting Report: Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman are names that are fairly well known among well educated fans around baseball but Rodriguez has yet to gain similar notoriety despite having the talent to challenge them in the rankings. He has an above-average fastball for a southpaw and it can hit the mid-90s with excellent movement. Both his slider and changeup should be above-average — if not plus — offerings for him when he reaches his full potential.

The Year Ahead: The experience in the AFL could convince the Orioles to push the lefty to Triple-A if he has a strong spring. Both Gausman and Rodriguez could be in Baltimore’s starting rotation in the second half of 2014. A healthy Bundy will likely join them in 2015, and them will potentially give them a stellar 1-2-3 pitching punch.

The Career Outlook: Rodriguez has the ceiling of a No. 2 or 3 starter but he’ll likely slot into the Orioles’ No. 3 slot in the future with the other young, talented arms also reaching the Majors around the same time as him. It could soon be a very good time to be an O’s fan.

 

#4 Jonathan Schoop | 60/MLB (2B)


Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
21 15 6.7 % 13.3 % .286 .333 .500 .364 128 0.5 -1.4 0.0

The Year in Review: Schoop’s season looked to be in jeopardy when he went down with a significant back injury in May. However, he still managed to play 70 games at the Triple-A level and also made his big league debut with five games in late September. He also tried to make up for the lost development time by playing in the Arizona Fall League but he struggled and hit just .177 with 17 strikeouts in 16 games.

The Scouting Report: The best hitting prospect in the Orioles system (by a fairly wide margin), Schoop isn’t afraid to use the whole field and currently flashes gap pop. He should hit for a solid average with 10-15 homers in his prime. Defensively, he has a strong arm but lacks ideal range for shortstop and is probably best suited for second due to his lack of traditional pop (expected from a third baseman).

The Year Ahead: Schoop, 22, will likely return to Triple-A to open the 2014 season. However, the club has question marks at two infield positions with Jemile Weeks (second base) and Ryan Flaherty (third base) projected to open the year as starters at their respective slots. Don’t be shocked to see Schoop back in the Majors by June, if his back is truly healthy again.

The Career Outlook: Back injuries have a way of lingering but the Curacao native will hopefully leave his issues in the rearview mirror as he advances into the 2014 season and beyond. If he stays healthy, he has a chance to be an above-average contributor at the big league level and could be paired with Manny Machado for years to come.

 

#5 Hunter Harvey | 60/SS (P)


Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP
18 8 8 25.1 21 0 11.72 2.13 1.78 1.31

The Year in Review: Picking 22nd overall during the 2013 amateur draft, the Orioles nabbed a high-ceiling prep arm out of North Carolina. Harvey looked even more advanced than expected during his pro debut by showing above-average control while pitching in both Rookie ball and Short-season A-ball. He produced impressive ground-ball out numbers and also struck out 33 batters in 25.1 innings.

The Scouting Report: Harvey is a projectable arm that currently throws in the 88-93 mph range and could eventually hit the mid to upper 90s. He has a curveball that should develop into a plus offering — once he learns to throw the offering with a consistent arm speed — but his changeup is well below average. Like a lot of young pitchers his mechanics could use smoothing out.

The Year Ahead: Harvey, 19, should move up to pitch in full-season Low-A ball in 2014 but should spend most, if not all, of the season there. With three very talented arms ahead of him there really is no reason to rush his development.

The Career Outlook: Harvey has the ceiling of a No. 2/3 starter but, with just eight professional starts under his belt, he has a long way to go to realize his full potential. And, as we learned with Dylan Bundy, serious injuries can pop up at any time.

 

#6 Mike Wright | 55/AAA (P)


Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP
23 27 27 150.1 158 9 8.26 2.33 3.11 3.12

The Year in Review: Wright spent the majority of the 2013 season pitching in the Double-A starting rotation. He displayed outstanding durability by making 26 starts with 143.2 innings pitched. He showed above-average control but his command was not as consistent and he allowed 152 hits. Wright, 24, was promoted to Triple-A at the end of the season to make one starter in which he held the Durham Bulls to no runs over six innings of work.

The Scouting Report: Wright can match the talent of many of the arms ahead of him on this list but he’s an impressive prospect in his own right with the ceiling of a No. 3 starter. The right-hander pounds the strike zone with his four-pitch repertoire, which includes a low-90s fastball, curveball, slider and changeup. He needs to take better advantage of his size and pound the lower half of the strike zone.

The Year Ahead: Wright should return to Triple-A for a full season in 2014 but could be one of the first pitchers recalled in the even of an injury to someone on the Orioles’ starting staff. However, he could be hurt by the fact that he doesn’t have to be added to the 40-man roster until after the 2014 season — unless Baltimore is truly convinced that’s he’s MLB ready.

The Career Outlook: As alluded to above, Wright has the ceiling of a mid-rotation, innings-eating starter and should be ready to settle into a big league rotation in 2015, if not sooner. With so many talented arms ahead of him, the South Carolina native could eventually be used as trade bait to help acquire some more offence.

 

#7 Tim Berry | 55/A+ (P)


Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP
22 34 29 166.2 167 13 7.02 2.32 3.67 3.59

The Year in Review: The 22-year-old southpaw spent the year in High-A ball and showed his durability with 27 starts. He then appeared in another seven games (two starts) in the Arizona Fall League and compiled a total of 166.2 innings. Berry flashed his above-average control but allowed 156 hits in 152 A-ball innings.

The Scouting Report: Berry attacks the strike zone with a low-90s fastball and his curveball shows plus potential. The changeup remains a work in progress but it should be at least an average offering for him. He still has work to do to become more consistent against right-handed hitters and the improved off-speed pitch could go a long way towards that goal.

The Year Ahead: Berry will move up to Double-A where he’ll look to continue to polish his secondary offerings and find a way to miss more bats. He’ll be entering his fifth pro season and could receive a taste of big league action in September, if not sooner.

The Career Outlook: The left-handed hurler isn’t flashy but he should develop into a solid back-end (No. 4) starter or middle reliever.

 

#8 Michael Ohlman | 55/A+ (C/DH)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
22 466 122 32 17 67 99 5 .311 .416 .543 .433

The Year in Review: Ohlman produced a strong offensive season in High-A ball with a .313 average and .934 OPS in 100 games. He showed a willingness to take a free pass and also produced solid power — especially against left-handed pitching. Ohlman, 23, continued his hot hitting with an appearance in the Arizona Fall League where seven of his nine hits went for extra bases. He also walked 11 times compared to just six strikeouts in 10 games. He still has some rough edges to sand down behind the plate.

The Scouting Report: A former 11th round draft pick (2009) out of a Florida high school, Ohlman struggled with the bat in his first three pro seasons but it kicked into high gear over the last two years. The young catcher has the potential to be a very good hitter with a solid average and decent power, although he’s prone to slumps. Defensively, he has a large frame and projects to be average in the throwing, receiving and blocking categories. He’s considered a solid game caller.

The Year Ahead: Ohlman will move up to Double-A and will want to add some more polish to the defensive side of his game. Currently, he projects to provide above-average offensive production from a key position.

The Career Outlook: With Matt Wieters looking like a solid big league catcher, but not the star he was projected to be, there could eventually be an opening for the Orioles’ full-time catcher and Ohlman is the current favorite to fill that role if the incumbent leaves as a free agent in 2016 (if he’s not traded before that).

 

#9 Chance Sisco | 60/R (C/DH)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
18 124 37 4 1 18 23 1 .363 .468 .451 .444

The Year in Review: The 61st overall pick in the 2013 amateur draft, Sisco was a beast in his pro debut with a .371 batting average and .938 OPS in 31 rookie ball games. He showed an impressive eye and patience with 17 walks. The catcher was so impressive that he earned a late-season promotion to the New York Penn League.

The Scouting Report: Sisco has only been catching regularly for a short period of time so he has a lot of work to do behind the plate but, if the bat advances too quickly, he’s athletic enough to handle a corner infield position, or possibly even left field (although the move would significantly hamper his value). At the plate, he could develop into a solid hitter with modest pop. Sisco is still young and needs to improve against left-handed pitching.

The Year Ahead: Catching depth is quickly becoming a strength of the organization with Matt Wieters at the big league level and Michael Ohlman projected to be in Double-A. Sisco should move up to Low-A ball in 2014 and there is no need to rush his development. He’ll want to continue to work on his defense and polish his approach against southpaws.

The Career Outlook: Strong offensive catchers that swing from the left side are always in high demand. It’s early — and young catchers have a nasty habit of stagnating when they hit full-season ball — but Sisco looks like he could develop into something special.

 

#10 Henry Urrutia | 50/A+ (DH)


Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
26 58 0.0 % 19.0 % .276 .276 .310 .257 55 -3.6 -1.5 -0.3

The Year in Review: Cuban signees have been all the rage recently with the successes of players such as the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig. Urrutia was more of an under-the-radar acquisition but he needed less than one year of minor league seasoning to reach The Show. He hit more than .300 with good gap power at both minor league stops (Double-A and Triple-A). Urrutia appeared in the Arizona Fall League after the season and continued his scorching attack against professional pitchers.

The Scouting Report: Urrutia has an impressive left-handed swing that should allow him to hit for a solid big league average and he hangs in well against tough southpaws. He makes good contract and shouldn’t strike out much but he’s also aggressive, which will negatively impact his on-base percentage. The knock against Urrutia is that, despite his solid frame, he’ll likely never hit for much power because his swing is geared more for the line drive. Defensively, he’s not a great fielder but his arm is average; he should be relegated to left field.

The Year Ahead: Baltimore appears set with giving the newly-acquired David Lough, a defensive whiz and fellow left-handed hitter, the first shot at the regular left field gig so that should force Urrutia to Triple-A to begin the year. It’s possible that the Cuba native could win the fourth outfielder role but his lack of ability to play center field hurts him.

The Career Outlook: There are split opinions on Urrutia’s future. Some feel he has the potential to be an impact corner bat due to his strong hitting, while others feel his lack of true raw power will prevent him from being a strong everyday option at the key (traditional) power position. As long as he continues to handle southpaws OK, Urrutia should be a solid regular outfield option for a team that doesn’t mind the lack of pop from the corner — or he could be an above-average option in a platoon role.

The Next Five:

11. Zach Davies, RHP: A former 26th round draft pick, Davies is an example of excellent scouting by the Orioles. Just 20 years old, he’s ready for Double-A and has proven durable to date. He could eventually develop into a No. 3 or, more likely, 4 starter at the big league level.

12. Josh Hart, OF: A 2013 supplemental round draft pick out of a Georgia high school, Hart impressed during his pro debut even though the results were not there statistically speaking. He’s athletic outfielder with speed, a solid eye and developing gap power. 

13. Branden Kline, RHP: Kline’s season was all but wiped out by a broken right lower leg. He made just seven regular season starts and got beat around in Low-A ball. Things go even worse for him when he was torched while pitching out of the bullpen in the Arizona Fall League but he was both young and inexperienced for the league. He’s expected to be fully healthy in 2014.

14. Dariel Alvarez, OF: Signed out of Cuba last July, Alvarez hit more than .400 in his first 13 pro games to earn a promotion to Double-A but found the going there more difficult. He recovered his footing a bit in the Arizona Fall League but still posted an OPS below .600. Alvarez, 25, should return to Double-A to open 2014.

15. Francisco Peguero, OF: Peguero was caught in a roster crunch in San Francisco this past off-season and was removed off their 40-man roster. A defensive specialist, his aggressive nature at the plate in the Majors has prevented him matching the success he had in the minors. Despite that he should make a solid fourth outfielder.




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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect analysis. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


4 Responses to “2014 Top 10 Prospects: Baltimore Orioles”

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  1. Bryrob58 says:

    Good stuff Marc,

    Where would you put Josh Hader (Bud Norris trade)? Back end of the top 10? I remember you being pretty high on him.

    Thanks

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  2. Baltic Fox Has Cold Paws says:

    Great stuff Marc. I hope Rodriguez has another good season. If this happens, do you think we could acquire a promising young OF–like Joc Pederson–from a team with a glut of OFs in return for him?

    Then again, we might need him if Bundy isn’t ready to contribute by 2015.

    One note from an old fart that once worked as a proofreader: the word “notoriety” should be used in connection with infamy; it’s often used, but incorrectly, to indicate fame or celebrity in a positive sense.

    Please don’t banish me from your prospects chat rooms for pointing out this small detail!

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  3. Philip Christy says:

    Why bother to show statistics at all, if most of the stat lines you show are basically worthless?

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  4. Chris Slade says:

    “while others feel his lack of true raw power will prevent him from being a strong everyday option at the key (traditional) power position”

    I don’t think it’s a question of true raw power – if you ever watch him take batting practice, there’s no doubting his raw power – it’s whether he will be able to translate it to consistent in game power with his contact oriented approach. 2014 will be an interesting year to see what kind of adjustments he makes no that he has a full season of experience in American baseball.

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