State of the system – Baltimore Orioles

Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado.

That’s really all you need to know about the Orioles farm system.

Want to know more?

Jonathan Schoop.

That’s the next level. He’s pretty good too.

After that? It’s a long way down for the Orioles’ farm system.

A farm system that was as good as any a few years ago, a system that offered Matt Wieters , Adam Jones, Jake Arrieta, Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz, is long gone.

No farm system in the majors has a bigger disparity between top and bottom as the Baltimore Orioles’. Bundy and Machado, the best prospects in the system, are a part of the reason for that.

Machado is among the best shortstop prospects in baseball. Bundy is among the most refined pitching prospects to have come out of high school in years.

Machado debuted last season in Low-A ball, and tore it up before a knee injury interrupted his season. Playing alongside him was Schoop, who was a natural shortstop, but played third base in deference to Machado. This is what happens when a third overall pick and a signee from Curacao play the same position at the same level.

Schoop posted an .890 OPS in Low-A Delmarva before a promotion to High-A Frederick. where he struggled with his power, a struggle on par to the .859 to .692 OPS drop Machado experienced making the same jump.

Schoop doesn’t have the same draft pedigree that Machado does, but the two are the future of the Orioles in the field, and as long as they are committed to Machado at short, Schoop will have to learn either second or third base—both moves the team thinks he can handle.

After Schoop and Machado, the position player pool gets pretty shallow. I’d like to say that luckily after that the pitcher pool is deep, but I’d be lying. It’s Dylan Bundy or Bust.

Bundy was a good enough draft pick out of high school to warrant a major league contract, and is a better prospect at 18 than was Arrieta, Matusz or Timlan. He’s still a long way away from Camden Yards, but not as far away as your typical prep pitcher. He has yet to pitch professionally, but he’ll start in full season ball and might not be more than two years away from the majors.

After that big three, there’s a significant dropoff. The Orioles have some interesting athletes in the field, but there are some serious questions about whether any of them will hit enough to stick.

L.J. Hoes has been on the prospect radar since being drafted in 2008, and in a weak system, his athleticism stands out. Last year, for the first time in professional career, his production caught up with his tools, and he finally hit over .300, and more importantly, walked almost as much as he stuck out. He’s been playing second base primarily and needs to stay, a significant question, for his bat to play properly.

Retroactive Review: Ace
Looking back at some of Justin Verlander's most interesting moments.

An even better athlete than Hoes is Xavier Avery, a fellow 2008 draftee who has yet to hit at all, and has an atrocious strikeout-to-walk ratio, but has enough athleticism to keep the Orioles interested. In over 600 Double-A at-bats, he’s yet to slug over .400.

Others to watch
Nicky Delmonico and Jason Esposito—a pair of 2011 corner infield draftees, both need to develop for the Orioles system to bounce back.

Bobby Bundy, Dylan’s older brother is a capable pitcher in his own right. He’s a mid-to-low level prospect in most systems, but he’s worth keeping an eye on for the Orioles.


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DShea
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DShea

The O’s farm system never had Adam Jones. 

And, even when it had some of those other guys, it barely ever was ranked any higher than just barely above average (and I think that was generous).  I’m not sure where the idea that it was “as good as any” comes from.  It’s certainly not based in reality.

The Oriole scouting and player development system has been awful for years, at least since the 1990s.  They draft poorly, and, if it’s possible, they develop even worse.  The farm system is in a shambles, and is simply another part of the Angelos debacle.

Robert Dudek
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Robert Dudek

Have to agree with above comments. Since Brian Roberts, the Orioles have only produced Markakis and Weiters and a few pitchers who might be good someday.

DShea
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DShea
jeff, I think it might help if you thought about looking at a range of system rankings.  BA is just one and even if their top ranking is 9th, that still puts the O’s closer to the middle of the pack then the top of the heap which is what “as good as any” means to me. In that period, the O’s did look to have a wealth of pitching promise.  I think a good look at a system, however, recognizes the huge challenges of turning pitching promise into real major league value.  I also think a “state of the… Read more »
Zach
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Zach
I’m a lifelong Orioles fan, and Robert Dudek is unfortunately absolutely correct. And he’s even being nice…downright generous, really. Baltimore’s farm system sucks. Always has. Always will until ownership changes hands, and I won’t tempt fate by cheering on another man’s mortality, even if that man’s name is Peter Angelos. I can only bide my time. The system that brought us Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters and a bevy of equally forgettable pitchers is the same system bringing us Machado and Bundy and Hoes and Avery. In other words: I’ll believe it when I see it. In Camden Yards. This… Read more »
Jeff Moore
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Jeff Moore
DShea, You’re right about Jones.  When he got to the Orioles system he was 9 at-bats past the prospect/rookie threshold.  I still considered him part of the Orioles future after that trade when I recollected back for this article, so even though he wasn’t technically a prospect, I lumped him in as such.  I’ll take the blame for that one. But the O’s system was ranked 9th overall in back-to-back years by Baseball America in 2008-9, so I think they were more than generously “barely above average.” My point waws that, at one point, their future pitching staff of Brian… Read more »
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