The Baltimore Orioles minor league system definitely lacks depth and the talent starts to erode after the first three prospects on the Top 15 list. With that said, the first two prospects in particular have monster ceilings and could develop into elite players at the MLB level. With a new front office and a new direction, it will be interesting to see what changes are to come for Baltimore’s minor league development system in 2012.
1. Dylan Bundy, RHP
BORN: Nov. 15, 1992
EXPERIENCE: High School
ACQUIRED: 2011 1st round (fourth overall), Oklahoma HS
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: NA
SCOUTING REPORT: Bundy was arguably the best pitcher available in the 2011 draft but the right-hander slipped to the Orioles at No. 4, joining his brother – and fellow Top 15 prospect – Bobby Bundy in the organization. The younger Bundy easily has the better stuff with a mid-to-high-90s fastball, curveball, cutter and changeup. He has above-average pitchability and command for his age. He definitely doesn’t have the biggest frame but also has a smooth, effortless delivery that should help him stay healthy.
YEAR IN REVIEW: It was a huge year for Oklahoma with two prep pitchers – Bundy and his friend Archie Bradley (Diamondbacks) – being selected within the first seven picks of the draft. Fellow prep pitchers Michael Fulmer (Mets) went in the supplemental first round and Adrian Houser (Astros) was nabbed in the second. Even Bundy’s catcher at Owasso High School, Drew Stiner, was selected and signed with the Giants as a 43rd round pick. The Orioles first rounder signed too late to make his pro debut in 2011.
YEAR AHEAD: Bundy is probably advanced enough to open his career in high-A ball but the organization won’t be that aggressive with him; he should start out in low-A ball. Baltimore pushed top offensive prospects Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop with mid-season promotions from low-A to high-A in 2011 but it remains to be seen if the minor league staff would be willing to push a young arm through a similar timetable. It’s important to keep in mind that the club lacks pitching depth in the system but, at the same time, it will be at least a few years before the big league club is anywhere near ready to compete for the AL East division title.
CAREER OUTLOOK: Because he’s such an advanced pitcher, Bundy may need no more than two to three years in the minors before making his MLB debut. The teenager has all the necessary ingredients to develop into a No. 1 starter at the MLB level. The only thing he really lacks is premium size/pitcher’s frame at 6’1” 200 lbs.
2. Manny Machado, SS
BORN: July 6, 1992
EXPERIENCE: 2 seasons (A-/A+)
ACQUIRED: 2010 1st round (3rd overall), Florida HS
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: 2nd
SCOUTING REPORT: The third overall pick of the 2010 draft, Machado offers an impressive collection of tools that should help him become an above-average shortstop – both at the plate and in the field. He could develop 50-60 power on the 20-80 scouting scale and his hit tool could rate as high as 60-70 when all is said and done. Although he’s not a huge base stealing threat, Machado could nab 15-20 bases in a full season. In the field, he possesses good range, a strong arm and quick actions.
YEAR IN REVIEW: It was an interesting year for the infielder who did not turn 19 until early July. Machado suffered a patella subluxation of his left knee in May and missed about a month’s time. He spent just 38 games in low-A ball where he posted a wOBA of .379 before he was promoted to high-A ball. It was a curious decision considering the fact Machado did not exactly dominate low-A ball and he was one of the youngest players in the league. As expected, he struggled in high-ball with a wOBA of .313.
YEAR AHEAD: Although he didn’t dominate at any level in 2011, Machado was not over-matched either. His strikeout rate rose in high-A ball from 14.7 to 18.5% and his walk rate dropped from 13.5 to 8.5% but neither of those rates are terrible – especially when you take Machado’s ago into consideration. He’ll likely return to high-A ball to begin 2012 and it remains to be seen how quickly he’ll be promoted to double-A – especially considering that there is a new front office in place.
CAREER OUTLOOK: If everything clicks, Machado has the chance to develop into an All-Star shortstop who could man the position for many years in Baltimore. Such a player has not been seen in Baltimore since the days of Cal Ripken Jr. With that said, Machado still needs time to develop his skills and there is little reason to rush him at this point because the team needs a lot of work before it will be ready to contend in the AL East.
3. Jonathan Schoop, SS/2B
BORN: Oct. 6, 1991
EXPERIENCE: 2 seasons (A-/A+)
ACQUIRED: 2010 international free agent
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: 6th
SCOUTING REPORT: Schoop had a breakout season in 2011 and adds to the organization’s growing middle infield depth. The infielder is rawer than Machado but he shows signs of developing into a player that will hit for average and, potentially, power (60 on the 20-80). With Machado at shortstop, Schoop is expect to move off the position long term – possibly to the hot corner but he’s played more second base so far. He offers a strong arm and solid range at shortstop and should have no issues adapting to third base.
YEAR IN REVIEW: Like Machado, Schoop was challenged with a split-season between low-A and high-A ball. He actually showed more offensive at both levels than the more heralded prospect with a .392 wOBA in low-A and a .322 wOBA in high-A. Schoop saw his power output drop significantly after his promotion: .198 to .104 ISO. On the plus side, his strikeout rate was the exact same at both levels at an impressive 13.4%.
YEAR AHEAD: Machado and Schoop should continue to play together with a return engagement in high-A ball but the latter prospect may be ready for double-A before his teammate. Schoop made big strides with his swing mechanics in 2011 but he needs repetition and continued emphasis on utilizing the whole field. He also needs to improve against right-handed pitching; his OPS versus southpaws was almost .100 points higher (.760 vs .673).
CAREER OUTLOOK: Schoop is a nice player to have because he could potentially fill a hole in one of three different positions, depending on club need when he’s MLB-ready. He’s a solid athlete that should be no worse than average and he has the potentially to develop into a plus defender with an above-average bat.
4. Tyler Townsend, 1B
BORN: May 14, 1988
EXPERIENCE: 3 seasons (A+)
ACQUIRED: 2009 3rd round, Florida International U
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: Off
SCOUTING REPORT: If Townsend, 23, can stay on the field, he has a lot of potential; he battled hamstring problems last season and missed much of the second half of the year. The slugging first baseman played in a career high 72 games in 2011, his third pro season. He offers massive left-handed power. Defensively, he’s limited to first base and doesn’t project to be anything more than average at the position.
YEAR IN REVIEW: When he played, Townsend looked good and hit .317 (.379 BABIP) with an ISO rate of .266 at high-A ball. What he didn’t do well, though, was control the strike zone. His walk rate (4.1%) and strikeout rate (23.6%) were both career worsts and the decline could be attributed to his lost development time.
YEAR AHEAD: The 2012 season will be an important year in Townsend’s development path. He needs to put in a full season and prove his durability. Because youth is not on his side, he’ll probably begin the year in double-A so he’ll face a stiff test against more advanced pitchers. Townsend has some work to do against southpaws (.793 vs 1.028 OPS).
CAREER OUTLOOK: Townsend has the potential to develop into an average to slightly-above-average offensive first baseman if he can stay healthy. At worst, I could see him offering value off the bench similar to Ross Gload.
5. Bobby Bundy, RHP
BORN: Jan. 13, 1990
EXPERIENCE: 4 seasons (A+/AA)
ACQUIRED: 2008 8th round, Oklahoma HS
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: 10th
SCOUTING REPORT: Bobby may forever be known as Dylan’s big brother… despite the fact that he has four extra years of experience on him. Bundy had an early shot at going in the first round of the ’08 draft but he blew out his knee playing basketball during his senior year of high school. He ended up impressing the Orioles enough to be offered an above-slot deal that swayed him from following through on his commitment to the University of Arkansas. A solid prospect in his own right, the elder Bundy has the ceiling of a No. 3 or 4 starter. He has a fastball that sits 88-93 mph, as well as a curveball, slider and changeup. Bundy’s curve was his go-to pitch in high school but he’s used the slider more in pro ball.
YEAR IN REVIEW: Pitching at high-A ball in 2011, Bundy showed improved control with his walk rate dropping from 3.26 in ’10 to 2.31 BB/9 in ’11. His strikeout rate was respectable at 7.44 K/9. He received a late-season promotion to double-A where he struggled with his control and posted a FIP of 6.47 (9.60 ERA).
YEAR AHEAD: Bundy should return to double-A in 2012 and will look for more consistency. He has an outside shot of making his MLB debut next season, especially if the organization’s young pitchers continue to struggle like they did in 2011.
CAREER OUTLOOK: At 6’2” 215 lbs, Bundy has thrown more than 100 innings in each of the past two seasons and projects to be a durable innings-eater. As mentioned, he doesn’t have the same ceiling as his brother but he could end up being a valuable piece of the big league starting rotation nonetheless.
6. Nick Delmonico, 3B
BORN: July 12, 1992
EXPERIENCE: High School
ACQUIRED: 2011 6th round, Tennessee HS
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: NA
SCOUTING REPORT: Delmonico comes from a baseball family and his brother, Tony Delmonico, is a mid-level prospect in the Los Angeles Dodgers system. The younger of the two signed for more than $1.5 million as a sixth round pick in 2011, choosing to forgo a college commitment to the University of Georgia. Delmonico is listed as a third baseman but many think his future lies behind the plate like his brother who was also converted. The 19-year-old prospect projects to be just a fringe-average defender at the hot corner. At the plate, he has been up-and-down and there is debate over how much power he’ll produce in the pro ranks.
YEAR IN REVIEW: Delmonico suffered through some injuries during his senior year of high school and really wasn’t at his best. He signed too late to play pro ball and will make his debut in 2012.
YEAR AHEAD: The youngster will likely open 2012 in extended spring training before heading off to a short-season affiliate. He needs extra reps on defense and he also needs to work on his swing at the plate. Expect next season to be a development year for Delmonico.
CAREER OUTLOOK: There are lots of question marks surrounding Delmonico’s future ceiling – both at the plate and in the field. Obviously the Baltimore organization has a lot of faith in his ability but the club will need to be patient with him as he has a lot of work to do.
7. Jason Esposito, 3B
BORN: July 19, 1990
ACQUIRED: 2011 2nd round, Vanderbilt University
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: NA
SCOUTING REPORT: Some players benefit financially from heading to college, while others risk turning down big paychecks that will not present themselves again. You can add Esposito to the latter category; he signed for $600,000 in ’11 as a second round pick but reportedly turned down more than $1 million to sign as a seventh-rounder out of high school. Esposito is a glove-first prospect who has the potential to win a few Gold Gloves at the hot corner. He has solid range, a strong arm and a quick glove. At the plate, though, he has a lot of work to do. Esposito may not hit for enough power to be an everyday player and there are questions about his bat speed.
YEAR IN REVIEW: The Vanderbilt grad signed too late to see time on the field before the minor league season ended in 2011 and was not sent to the Arizona Fall League.
YEAR AHEAD: Esposito will likely open the 2012 season in low- or high-A ball. The lower level would probably be the best idea – at least for the first month or two so he can try and gain some confidence with the bat before facing too big of a challenge. The third baseman should produce solid numbers at the A-ball level and double-A will probably be the biggest test. He might need three or four seasons in the minors to work on the offensive side of his game.
CAREER OUTLOOK: Some scouts see Esposito as a future average regular, while others see him as a future utility player. He has the skills to play shortstop on a semi-regular basis but probably not every day. One comp for Esposito, for good or bad, might be Cleveland’s Jack Hannahan.
8. Xavier Avery, CF
BORN: Jan. 1, 1990
EXPERIENCE: 4 seasons (AA)
ACQUIRED: 2008 2nd round, Georgia HS
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: 4th
SCOUTING REPORT: Signed as a raw athlete, this former prep football player has youth on his side but he’s starting to lose some of his prospect shine. The speedy outfielder’s main tool is his set of wheels but serious contact issues as threatening to dampen his overall effectiveness. He has the potential to develop into a plus defender, despite a fringe-average arm, and he has 70 speed.
YEAR IN REVIEW: Avery moved up to double-A in 2011 and posted an alarming strikeout rate of 25% with a well-below-average power output. Despite a healthy BABIP of .352, he hit just .259. With an on-base average of just .324, he didn’t have nearly enough opportunities to use his speed. Although he stole 36 bases, Avery was caught 14 times and needs to improve his success rate. He made some improvements after the regular season when he was sent to the Arizona Fall League; he walked 16 times in 30 games and had nine steals in 10 tries… but he also struck out 25 times.
YEAR AHEAD: After playing parts of two seasons in double-A the organization would no doubt like to promote Avery to triple-A but another month or two in double-A might do him some good… assuming it doesn’t bruise his ego too much. If he can trim the Ks, he might be able to help the big league club late in 2012 or at least by mid-2013.
CAREER OUTLOOK: There is hope that Avery can become an everyday center-fielder for the O’s but his future might entail a platoon or fourth-outfield role. He failed to hit above .200 against southpaws for the second straight season and his OPS against them was just .600 in 2011.
9. Trent Mummey, CF
BORN: Jan. 5, 1989
EXPERIENCE: 2 seasons (A/A+)
ACQUIRED: 2010 4th round, Auburn University
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: Off
SCOUTING REPORT: Mummey is an intriguing prospect but he’s having problems staying on the field. He battled ankle injuries in his junior year of college. Then in 2011, he was then carted off the field after running into the outfield fence and later missed a huge chunk of the season with hamstring problems. When he’s healthy, Mummey shows above-average speed and good gap power. Defensively, he projects to be solid but may eventually lose the range to play center field on a regular basis. He currently makes up for his average range with an above-average arm.
YEAR IN REVIEW: As mentioned, Mummey missed a good portion of the 2011 with injury and appeared in just 29 games split between low-A and high-A ball. Despite his healthy problems, he stole 19 bases in 22 tries and hit above .290. He also showed a good eye at the plate and some pop (.218 ISO in low-A).
YEAR AHEAD: Mummy should return to high-A ball in 2012 but could move quickly if A) He’s healthy and, B) He continues to swing a hot stick. Look for him to be in double-A by the end of June with an ERA in Baltimore by mid-2013.
CAREER OUTLOOK: Mummey has the chance to be an everyday center fielder but he could also be an above-average fourth outfielder along with lines of Chicago’s Reed Johnson. Mummey does a decent job against left-handers so he doesn’t have to worry too much above a future platoon role.
10. Joe Mahoney, 1B
BORN: Feb. 1, 1987
EXPERIENCE: 5 seasons (A+/AA)
ACQUIRED: 2007 6th round, University of Richmond
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: Off
SCOUTING REPORT: A massive figure at 6’6” 240 lbs, Mahoney has the power that you’d expect from someone of that size. He’s also shown a decent ability to hit for average in his career but he’s benefited from high BABIPs and doesn’t project to hit for average in the Majors. Mahoney projects to be a slightly-above-average defender at first base and he’s also seen a little bit of time in the outfield.
YEAR IN REVIEW: Mahoney, like a number of Baltimore prospects, suffered through injuries in 2011 and appeared in just 88 regular season games. He produced solid numbers in double-A, although he didn’t walk as much as I would have liked and he struck out a fair bit. Mahoney showed good power (.213 ISO), which is vital if he’s going to be an everyday player at first base in the Majors. He was healthy enough to play in the Arizona Fall League and hit .325 with four homers in 20 games.
YEAR AHEAD: The big first baseman should move up to triple-A in 2012 and could see the Majors by mid-season, depending on the club’s needs. The big league club has Chris Davis and Mark Reynolds around at first base, as well as Nolan Reimold and Luke Scott looking for time at the DH role; none of those players are hardly irreplaceable.
CAREER OUTLOOK: Mahoney has work to do before he’s ready to be an everyday player. He could eventually face competition from Tyler Townsend but he’s got the upper hand for now. At worst, he should be a solid bat off the bench for the O’s.
11. Parker Bridwell, RHP: The organization was understandably patient with Bridwell in 2011 and he spent much of the year in extended spring training and short-season ball. He has a four-pitch mix with an 88-93 mph fastball, slider, curveball and changeup. He has the potential to develop into a mid-rotation starter.
12. Glynn Davis, CF: Davis has the chance to be a very interesting story after being signed in 2011 as a non-drafted free agent out of a small junior college. The speedy outfielder plays a solid center field and had a decent debut with the bat. He has plus speed and stole 23 bags in 32 tries.
13. L.J. Hoes, 2B/LF: Converted from second base to the left field, Hoes overall potential took a bit of a hit with the move because he lacks the prototypical corner outfield power. He hit above .300 in double-A in 2011 and also posted a very good on-base percentage at .381. Hoes has some speed and projects to develop into a solid utility player capable of playing both the infield and outfield.
14. Dan Klein, RHP: Klein has a hard fastball but injuries have taken their toll on his prospect standing. The right-hander had surgery to repair a labrum tear in his right shoulder and he could miss all of 2012. Despite pitching in just 16 pro games in two years Klein had already reached double-A as a reliever.
15. Mychal Givens, 2B/SS: Givens was drafted out of high school with a lot of promise but injuries wiped out his 2010 season and he received a demotion from low-A to short-season ball in 2011. The 2012 season will be huge for Givens as he needs to establish himself as a legitimate prospect. If his bat continues to fail him, he could be converted to a pitcher; he touched the mid-90s while pitching in high school.
SLEEPER ALERT: Zach Davies, RHP: A two-way prep player, Davies could take off once he focuses on pitching full time. He’s a smallish right-hander with an average fastball, curveball, slider and changeup. Davies projects to develop into a No. 3 or 4 starter, and he was signed to a $575,000 contract as a 26th-round pick out of high school in 2011.