A Minor Review of 2013: Orioles

There is always a bit of a lull between the end of the minor league playoffs in September and the start of the annual top prospects lists in early November. Because of that gap, I’m breathing new life into an old feature that I wrote for the site in FanGraphs’ infancy back in 2008 and 2009.

The series ‘A Minor Review of 2013’ will look back on some of the major happenings in each MLB organization since the beginning of April as a primer for the upcoming FanGraphs Top 10+5 prospects lists. This series will run throughout September and October. I hope you enjoy the series, and are eagerly anticipating the start of ‘Prospect List Season.’

The player listed in the sleeper section was featured in a preseason series that looked at one fringe prospect in each organization that was expected to take a big step forward during 2013, chosen by myself, a scout or a front office talent evaluator.

The Graduate: Kevin Gausman, RHP: This talented right-hander is a perfect reminder that not every top prospect excels immediately. Gausman posted respectable numbers in 15 minor league starts between Double-A and Triple-A, but he wasn’t as successful against big league hitters. Even so, his future remains bright.

The Riser: Mike Wright, RHP: The 2011 third-rounder took a step forward in his development in 2013, but he was inconsistent throughout the season — often, he would follow a strong month with a weaker month, and vice versa. Once he gains that consistency, the South Carolina native should be ready to settle into a big league role as a No. 3 or 4 starter.

The Tumbler: Xavier Avery, OF: I ranked Avery as the ninth-best prospect in the system prior to the 2013 season, but noted he was still a raw talent. After spending 2012 in Triple-A, the speedy outfielder was sent backwards to Double-A, where his bat picked up a bit. Unfortunately, he stumbled with the bat yet again after being promoted back to Triple-A, and the O’s sent him packing in the trade that netted them Michael Morse.

The 2013 Draft Pick: Chance Sisco, C: Selected in the second round, Sisco had an outstanding offensive showing — albeit in a small sample — and also showed a good understanding of the strike zone for a teenager, but he has work to do on defense to shake the “bat-first” label. Still, he adds some impressive depth to an organization that did not have a catcher on its preseason Top 15 prospects list.

The Sleeper: Josh Hader, LHP: A 19th-round selection from the 2012 draft, the hard-throwing lefty opened a lot of eyes during his full-season debut. He was so impressive that Houston coveted him when the two clubs matched up for the Bud Norris deal at the non-waiver trade deadline. He finished the season in Quad Cities, and should be ready for High-A Lancaster to begin his age-20 season.



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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects, depth charts and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


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FeslenR
Guest
FeslenR
2 years 10 months ago

Thanks for this series Marc, good reads.

Looks like the Orioles really made their system much weaker trying to go for it all. Hope it works out for them.

Matt P
Guest
Matt P
2 years 10 months ago

Not really. Losing Hader and Delmonico was tough but both are well behind Gausman (maybe he shouldn’t be counted), Bundy, Rodriguez and Harvey. They’d be in the same category but probably behind guys like Schoop, Ohlman and Wright.

They’d nearly definitely be in the top five to ten range. In a weak system that hurts but it’s not like they lost a lot of quality.

Mac
Guest
Mac
2 years 10 months ago

Boy does baseball having its timing off for release of information.

This is a bit of a thread-hijack rant, so sorry in advance. But it’s just so weird that baseball does things like a mid-season draft, schedule releases during pennant races, and minor league reviews during what will be the playoffs.

There’s a whole big offseason out there for reflection on season’s past and upcoming futures. This season isn’t even over yet. What if Kevin Gausman suddenly becomes dominant, leads the Orioles to a playoff run, and wins a World Series game. Won’t that make this post look somewhat silly?

Right now teams are out there fighting for their playoff lives, and if I had to choose, I’d love to read some analysis of how the A’s just trounced the Rangers, what unexpected player might make the difference in the Cards-Pirates race to the finish, or how incredible it is that the Indians and Rays wound up just a half-game apart this late in the year.

Baseball does not know how to sell excitement. An offseason schedule release would be all kinds of fun to break down in November. New rule change: announce in January and have it be the buzz of early Spring Training.

Anyway, this is a fun series to read.

rusty
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rusty
2 years 10 months ago

Eh, maybe I’m doing fandom wrong, but unless my team is playing meaningful games in September, I’m pretty happy to look at longer-term stuff. And considering that my team is usually pretty bad, and this year, certainly bad, I think it’s great that there’s enough space in the baseball blogosphere to have both.

Marc’s series here or Paul Swyden’s look at the last seasons of guys with distinguished careers are both interesting reading, allow me to forget about the big fat 0s on certain rows of the Playoff Odds page, and for sure play to their authors’ strengths. I recall Marc noted during a chat that he doesn’t often get to see top prospects once they graduate to MLB, because they keep playing just as many minor-league games as before, so I’d much rather see his thoughts on the games he’s actually watched than either his thoughts on A’s-Rangers or shelving his posts for a month while the site tries to chase playoff storylines.

But, again, that’s just me, and I’m sure plenty of people love the playoffs even when their favorite team is out of the picture. So it’s a good thing there are plenty of web outlets (and in the last few years, plenty of high-quality ones, too) where you can get all the playoff coverage you could possibly want.

Eric Feczko
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Eric Feczko
2 years 10 months ago

As someone who is lucky to be a fan of a very successful team that makes the playoffs on a regular basis, I enjoy reading about the long term view as well. Building a strong farm system is key to the success of a good major league franchise. As a result, I take a strong interest in the progress of minor league farm systems throughout the league.

Watching baseball and following baseball requires a tremendous amount of patience. Both individual games and the season are long. As a result, I think baseball fans, with such patience, tend to take a long-term view of the state of their team and the league, which is why you see these releases during the season.

Balthazar
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Balthazar
2 years 10 months ago

The way things are now, post-season ends less than a month before the Winter Meetings. We don’t even get the Top 15s in time for that when it would matter in handicapping Who, What, Where, because of the compressed time. To get any kind of lead on that, fly by looks on ‘The Minor League Season That Was’ _have_ to come out about now. It’s a news cycle function, is what I’m saying. And I’ll second the joe above, if my org is a Bottom Ten 2014 candidate based on this season’s play, I’m a lot more interested in prospect analysis than the triumphal progress of others. I’m happy to watch a key pennant race game or a good playoff matchup, but my real hear is with Thoughts of Guys to Come. So, keep ’em comin’, Marc. (My grandfather was a ‘Marc’ [’cause Rollin didn’t cut much ice], so I’m always glad to see that.

triple_r
Member
2 years 10 months ago

Gausman’s defense-independent numbers in the minors were actually quite excellent: Between AA and AAA, he threw 82.0 innings, with 82 K’s and just 14 BB’s. This, combined with (probably somewhat lucky) 4 HR’s allowed, gave him a minor league FIP of ~2.50 (I’m not sure if my calculations are correct). That is, at the very least, deserving of a better descriptor than “respectable”.

Overall, though, a very good piece.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

You don’t need to do “calculations.” Just click on his name and look at the numbers. If you want to get really fancy you can do 2.56*35.667/82+2.44*46.333/82 to get 2.49 as his season FIP.

Anyway, he had a 4.04 ERA in AAA, so I think respectable is a fine descriptor.

Balthazar
Guest
Balthazar
2 years 10 months ago

Jaguar XA disappointed enough to be exiled to the Land That Wins Forgot. But I’m happy to have him, especially for the slab exchanged. If it takes Xavier Avery a few years to turn into something semi-useful it’s all upside to this side of the continent.

Matt P
Guest
Matt P
2 years 10 months ago

You don’t have several years. He has one option remaining. He either turns into a useful player by 2015 or he can go wherever he pleases.

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