Top 18 Prospects: Baltimore Orioles

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the Baltimore Orioles farm system. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from my own observations. The KATOH statistical projections, probable-outcome graphs, and (further down) Mahalanobis comps have been provided by Chris Mitchell. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of my prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this. -Eric Longenhagen

The KATOH projection system uses minor-league data and Baseball America prospect rankings to forecast future performance in the major leagues. For each player, KATOH produces a WAR forecast for his first six years in the major leagues. There are drawbacks to scouting the stat line, so take these projections with a grain of salt. Due to their purely objective nature, the projections here can be useful in identifying prospects who might be overlooked or overrated. Due to sample-size concerns, only players with at least 200 minor-league plate appearances or batters faced last season have received projections. -Chris Mitchell

Other Lists
NL West (ARI, COL, LAD, SD, SF)
AL Central (CHW, CLE, DET, KC, MIN)
NL Central (CHC, CIN, PIT, MIL, StL)
NL East (ATL, MIA, NYM, PHI, WAS)
AL East (BAL, BOSNYY, TB, TOR)

Orioles Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Chance Sisco 22 AAA C 2018 50
2 Cody Sedlock 21 A- RHP 2019 45
3 Ryan Mountcastle 20 A LF 2019 45
4 Keegan Akin 21 A- LHP 2020 45
5 Trey Mancini 24 MLB 1B 2017 45
6 Hunter Harvey 22 A RHP 2020 40
7 Gabriel Ynoa 23 MLB RHP 2017 40
8 Austin Hays 21 A- OF 2020 40
9 Jomar Reyes 20 A+ 3B 2020 40
10 Anthony Santander 22 A+ 1B/OF 2018 40
11 Ofelky Peralta 19 A RHP 2020 40
12 Matthias Dietz 21 A- RHP 2020 40
13 Chris Lee 24 AA LHP 2017 40
14 Jesus Liranzo 22 AA RHP 2017 40
15 Aneury Tavarez 24 AAA OF 2017 40
16 Garrett Cleavinger 22 A+ LHP 2018 40
17 Cedric Mullins 22 A OF 2020 40
18 Tanner Scott 22 AA LHP 2019 40

50 FV Prospects

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2013 from Santiago HS (CA)
Age 22 Height 6’2 Weight 193 Bat/Throw L/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 50/50 40/45 30/30 45/50 40/40

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Slashed .320/.406/.422 at Double-A in 2016.

Scouting Report
While this series has often extolled the virtues of loud tools, the best aspects of Sisco’s game are ensconced in quiet. This is most important defensively, where Sisco has improved to the point of viability. Balls in the dirt are sputtering off of Sisco’s catching gear with less force, and his receiving has become more still and refined. Scouts now consider Sisco, who didn’t start catching until his senior year of high school in 2013, a viable defensive backstop. Nobody is particularly excited about him back there, but he’s okay right now and should improve into his mid-20s as he continuously makes good use of his above-average athleticism and refines his skills. In fact, scouts consider Sisco athletic enough that, were something to occur that requires him to move out from behind the plate, he might be able to play somewhere other than first base/DH, which is often the value-crushing alternative for unsound defensive catchers.

If there’s a current issue that might cause a move, it’s Sisco’s arm, which is a 40 or 45 on the scale depending on the scout with whom you’re talking. I had him popping between 2.03 and 2.07 seconds in the Fall League, but others have had him down around 2.10 and there’s some debate about whether or not that plays. One scout said he think it’s average pure arm strength that plays down due to a long release.

But, unanimously, scouts think Sisco is going to hit. He is relaxed and still in the box, tracks pitches well and ignites his hands at the last possible moment, spraying hard contact to all fields. His career BABIP is probably unsustainable despite the consistent quality of Sisco’s contact, especially if big-league teams start shifting him. Nevertheless, he’s still a likely plus hitter. Sisco has average raw power and can hit balls out to all fields when he strikes them just so, but his approach to contact is just that and his game-power output is more likely to be of the two-base variety rather than four. There are scouts who think the body has some physical projection remaining and that Sisco might still grow into more power, but that could also rob him of some of the mobility that makes him a passable defender.

Overall, I think Sisco is a likely average everyday player, largely due to his ability to reach base. There’s some volatility on either side of average because of the defensive questions and the slight chance there’s more power coming.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 5.3 WAR

45 FV Prospects

2. Cody Sedlock, RHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Illinois
Age 22 Height 6’4 Weight 204 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command
60/60 50/55 50/55 30/40 40/45

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Recorded 116 strikeouts in 101 innings at Illinois.

Scouting Report
Sedlock spent most of his career at Illinois in the bullpen and pitched just 63 innings combined as a freshman and sophomore. He moved into the rotation as a junior and struck out a school-record 116 hitters. After the draft, Baltimore throttled down his workload, limiting the length of his starts.

For a college arm, there’s quite a bit of projecting to do here. Sedlock’s relatively short career as a starter has limited his ability to hone his secondary offerings, which include two separate breaking balls. His slider, mostly 84-86, and curveball are the best of these, the former’s effectiveness predicated on its velocity while the latter has good depth and bite. Both flash above average and are used heavily against left- and right-handed hitters alike, while Sedlock’s changeup is still obscure.

Sedlock had issues throwing strikes during his short pro stint and some scouts think the effort in his delivery might hinder his long-term strike-throwing ability or at least his breaking ball command, something that will be vital if Sedlock fails to develop a changeup with which to attack lefties. If it’s a persistent issue, the bullpen is a possibility.

That Sedlock is a bit under-seasoned becomes more palatable when you realize he’s quite young for a college arm (he was 20 on draft day) and remember his role as a freshman and sophomore limited his reps. His fastball (91-94 with some sink, up to 96-97 on occasion) and size are genetic gifts, and both breaking balls are promising. There are mid-rotation components here, they just have farther to go, developmentally, than is typical for a college arm.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from Hagerty HS (FL)
Age 20 Height 6’3 Weight 185 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/55 50/55 35/50 40/40 30/40 30/30

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Career .286/.319/.426 hitter in pro ball.

Scouting Report
Mountcastle had one of the 2015 draft’s prettiest swings, great hitter’s timing and bat control. Predictably, he’s had bat-to-ball success so far as a pro. He began to grow into some power last year, and his wide-shouldered frame portends to more.

But Mountcastle, who lacks the arm for the left side of the infield and arguably the hands and athleticism for the dirt altogether, is without a defensive home. He projects, for many, to left field, which will put considerable pressure on his bat. Whether or not he’s able to qualify there will heavily rely on how much more power Mountcastle is able to develop without compromising a very promising contact profile. I’m cautiously optimistic.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 2.5 WAR

4. Keegan Akin, LHP
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Western Michigan
Age 22 Height 6’0 Weight 200 Bat/Throw L/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command
50/50 45/50 55/60 45/50

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Recorded 133 strikeouts in 109 innings at Western Michigan in 2016.

Scouting Report
The physically mature Akin also set his school’s single-season strikeout record as a junior. The cement on Akin’s body is more or less dry, and it’s highly unlikely that we see an uptick in velocity as he enters his mid-20s, but his current 90-95 mph fastball (he was 89-93 for me during instructs but was throwing harder than that at times at WMU) is fine, and its heft and ability to induce ground balls quiets some of the concerns scouts typically have about pitchers this height.

Akin’s changeup was flashing plus for me in the fall, and I think it matures there and will be his best secondary offering. His slurvy, low-80s slider is fringey and I have it projected to average, though Akin tinkered with various secondary offerings in college and hasn’t been throwing this slider for all that long. You could argue it has more rep-based projection than that. He throws a lot of strikes and projects as a No. 4/5 starter just based on his sinker/changeup combo, but could be a firm No. 4 if the breaking ball improves.

Drafted: 8th Round, 2013 from Notre Dame
Age 25 Height 6’4 Weight 215 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/50 60/60 50/55 30/30 40/40 50/50

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Slashed .282/.357/.458 across three levels (but mostly at Triple-A, where he also had a .147 ISO).

Scouting Report
Mancini has plus raw power and is likely to get to a good bit of it because, despite a stiff, upright swing, he has excellent hitter’s timing and has quieted aspects of his swing that turned off amateur evaluators. He projects to make an average amount of contact. He’s a below-average athlete and defender at first, arguably. But the hit/power combination, while not exciting at first, is playable, and Mancini is a relatively advanced hitter who has already made his MLB debut. He’s a low-risk, below-average regular.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 2.6 WAR

40 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2013 from Bandys HS (NC)
Age 22 Height 6’3 Weight 175 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command
60/60 60/60 40/50 40/50

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
None. Made just five starts due to injury.

Scouting Report
Harvey had Tommy John Surgery in July and may not be back in time to pitch at an affiliate this year. It was the latest in what has been an injury-riddled career, marred at various times by a flexor-mass strain, fractured fibula, hernia surgery and now TJ. When healthy, he sits 91-96 with a comfortably plus curveball and viable starter’s control. His delivery has some effort and violence about the head, something that has improved since high school but never completely evaporated.

7. Gabriel Ynoa, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2009 from Dominican Republic
Age 24 Height 6’2 Weight 160 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command
55/55 50/50 40/40 45/50 50/55

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Posted 6% walk rate at Triple-A Las Vegas in 2016.

Scouting Report
Ynoa was acquired for cash from New York in February. He sits 90-94 with a running fastball. Its movement is generated by Ynoa’s low three-quarters arm slot, which also give left-handed hitters a good long look at his relatively planeless heater. He deals with this issue by attempting to work his average, mid-80s slider in on lefties or by running his changeup off their hip and back onto the corner. He also has a below-average curveball. Ynoa is a high-probability fifth starter/long reliever.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 1.7 WAR

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Jacksonville
Age 21 Height 6’0 Weight 205 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 45/50 40/45 55/55 50/55 60/60

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Slashed .271/.351/.385 at Jacksonville in 2016.

Scouting Report
A toolsy college tweener, Hays’ above-average speed creates some dissent among scouts as to whether or not he can play center field. Most have him projected in right field (his arm is plus), and he spent the lion’s share of his 2016 debut there. Hays has above-average bat speed and average raw power. His in-game approach to hitting is geared for hard, reactionary contact as Hays doesn’t go to the plate looking to hit dingers but rather take what he’s given and hit it somewhere, anywhere, hard. He lacks great bat control but tracks pitches well and gets the bat into the hitting zone quickly. The whole package projects as an average hit tool with fringe game power. That might play every day, as a fringe regular, in a corner spot if Hays can provide extra value with his speed on the bases and in the field.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic
Age 20 Height 6’3 Weight 220 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 60/70 30/55 40/30 30/40 70/70

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Slashed .228/.271/.336 at High-A in 2016. Was 3.5 years younger than Carolina League’s average player according to Baseball Reference.

Scouting Report
One could argue that Reyes, who only turned 20 in February, has the two most explosive tools among position players in this entire system in his plus-plus arm and plus-plus raw-power projection. And his issues with contact in 2016 become a bit less worrisome when considering he was a 19-year-old in High-A.

But Reyes’ overall profile is unstable: he’s quite large and has a body that typically finds it way over to first base — to say nothing of his inconsistent defensive footwork and hands that also indicate a potential move down the spectrum. If/when a conversion to first occurs then not only does it become imperative that Reyes improve upon his ability to make contact but also his expansive, walk-less approach at the plate, which has been fueled by mediocre breaking-ball recognition. A move also means Reyes’ arm strength will make a less significant impact on games.

The power is a carrying tool, and Reyes has plenty of time to devise a way to make more contact, get on base or both to profile at third, first, or perhaps in an outfield corner if he can retain enough straight-line speed. He’ll still be about 2.5 years younger than the average Carolina League regular in 2017, and a return there would provide him the opportunity to show that he can make adjustments.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 1.9 WAR

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2011 from Venezuela
Age 22 Height 6’2 Weight 190 Bat/Throw S/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 55/60 30/50 40/30 40/45 50/50

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Slashed .290/.368/.494 at High-A Lynchburg.

Scouting Report
Santander laid waste to the Carolina League last year as part of a formidable middle-of-the-order combination with Bobby Bradley at Lynchburg, though Santander was just a bit older than the usual prospect at that level. The Orioles made him one of two prospects they selected in December’s Rule 5 draft. He has above-average raw power and gets to it consistently due to the loft in his swing. He has better bat-to-ball skills from the left side of the plate, where Santander exhibits superior bat control and balance. He’s a future 55 hitter from that side for me but just a fringe hitter as a righty. It’s on the fringe of profiling at first base or in left field, a situation further complicated by the logjam of corner bodies Baltimore has stockpiled at the upper levels.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 0.5 WAR

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic
Age 20 Height 6’5 Weight 195 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command
55/60 40/45 30/40 45/50 40/50

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Recorded 21% strikeout rate at Low-A.

Scouting Report
While raw, Peralta has a few power-righty traits, including his huge frame and a fastball that will reach 98. His heater plays down because it lacks life, but it’s hard and Peralta arguably has some physical projection remaining, so it might get harder. His best secondary pitch is his changeup, which projects to average, while his curveball (currently a 30) and slider (which scouts like more than the curve) need lots of work and onlookers wonder if ditching one of them might help the other develop. There’s mid-rotation upside here if the command and one of the breaking balls improve. Both have great developmental distances to travel.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 2.3 WAR

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Logan CC (IL)
Age 21 Height 6’5 Weight 220 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command
55/55 50/55 40/45 40/50 40/45

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Recorded complete game in eight of 13 starts at Logan.

Scouting Report
Dietz carved up JUCO ball as a 20-year-old sophomore, sitting 91-94 with a fastball that would crest 96 and an above-average slider. He got $400K over slot ($1.3 million at pick No. 69, basically slot at pick No. 50) to sign away from a commitment to TCU but struggled to miss bats in the NYPL after signing. His changeup and curveball are both below average, as is his command, and not all scouts are fans of Dietz’s delivery, which is very upright and stiff. He’s a strapping physical presence. If his build can deal help him deal with inefficient mechanics for 200-plus innings and the changeup comes, he could be a No. 4/5.

13. Chris Lee, LHP
Drafted: 4th Round, 2011 from Santa Fe College
Age 24 Height 6’3 Weight 180 Bat/Throw L/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command
60/60 45/45 45/50 40/45

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
None. Made just seven starts in 2016 due to injury.

Scouting Report
Lee was acquired from Houston for international bonus slots in 2015. He’s a good-bodied lefty with a stiff and upright delivery that some think he has tamed enough to throw strikes. Others, who also cite his 2016 shoulder injury that kept him out for much of the year, think he fits better in the bullpen. His fastball is plus when he’s healthy, and he complements it with a hard slider that has short, cutter-like movement and a viable changeup. He has No. 4/5 starter stuff but might fit long term in a swingman or permanent bullpen role.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 0.5 WAR

14. Jesus Liranzo, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2011 from Dominican Republic
Age 22 Height 6’2 Weight 175 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Splitter Command
60/60 45/50 40/45 45/50

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Recorded 66 strikeouts, 27 walks in 53 innings.

Scouting Report
Liranzo has a big, sturdy body and exceptionally quick arm that produces a mid-90s fastball that will touch 99. It’s a heavy fastball and Liranzo has shown glimpses of being able to command it to his glove side. He has an average slider and below-average split. The slider is good enough to miss bats, provided Liranzo can continue to improve his command of it away from righties. This is a quintessential middle-relief prospect and a potential setup man if true command ever comes.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 1.4 WAR

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2010 from Dominican Republic
Age 25 Height 5’9 Weight 195 Bat/Throw L/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 45/45 30/30 55/55 50/55 50/50

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Hit .335 in the Eastern League.

Scouting Report
A Rule 5 pick from Boston, Tavarez cut down his strikeout rate in 2016 and hit well in what was essentially a repeat year at Double-A. He tracks pitches well and hits balls hard on the ground, legging out extra-base hits with his above-average speed. He doesn’t run quite well enough to play center field, and there’s not enough game power for a corner profile. Instead, Tavarez should be a competent bench outfielder if he sticks with Baltimore, hitting and running well while playing good corner defense.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 0.7 WAR

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2015 from Oregon
Age 23 Height 6’1 Weight 205 Bat/Throw L/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Command
55/55 60/60 40/45

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Compiled 102 strikeouts in 76 innings between Low- and High-A.

Scouting Report
Cleavinger sits 90-94 and has a deep, loopy curveball that plays up against lefties due to his arm slot and funky delivery. That funk might be his saving grace against right-handed hitters, too, as they don’t pick up the ball as easily out of Cleavinger’s hand as they do against your average, low-slot relief lefty. He could have a long career as a middle reliever and late-inning lefty neutralizer.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 0.9 WAR

Drafted: 13th Round, 2015 from Campbell
Age 22 Height 5’8 Weight 175 Bat/Throw S/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 45/50 30/40 60/60 45/50 45/45

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Slashed .273/.321/.464 with 14 home runs, 37 doubles, 10 triples, and 30 stolen bases in 36 attempts.

Scouting Report
Mullins has a lot of typical bench-outfielder traits. He’s a plus runner and a decent defensive center fielder prospect despite unpolished routes; he’s undersized; and, at a glance, appears unlikely to do much damage with his bat. But the ball jumps off his barrel surprisingly hard for someone with such a low-effort swing, and he had a great year at Low-A in 2016. Scouts like his feel to hit from the left side and think he could have an above-average bat. He’s more stiff and mechanical as a right-handed hitter, though. If Mullins can improve his reads, pass in center field and be a 55 hitter from one side of the plate, even with paltry power production, that’s starting to look like a potential platoon option and not just a reserve or 40-man stash for speed in September.

There’s a chance Mullins’ offensive output in 2016 was partly due to his age relative to the level and 2016 should shed some more light on what’s exactly going on here, but he’s tracking like a potential big-league contributor of some kind, even if his mostly likely outcome is that of a bench outfielder.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 1.3 WAR

18. Tanner Scott, LHP
Drafted: 6th Round, 2014 from Howard College
Age 22 Height 6’2 Weight 220 Bat/Throw R/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command
80/80 40/45 40/45 30/40

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Recorded 30% strikeout and 20% walk rate at High-A.

Scouting Report
Scott went a bit backwards in 2016, his fastball still humming in around 95-100 mph (he was up to 102 for me in the 2015 Fall League, 99 in 2016), but his already below-average control fell apart and neither of his secondary offerings progressed. His slider, anywhere from 87 to 92, is hard but moves very little and he shows noticeable arm deceleration on his changeup. Both his control and one of his secondary offerings needs to progress if Scott is going to be a big leaguer. Because of his elite velocity, though, he could be a late-inning arm if they do.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 0.4 WAR

*****

*****

Other Prospects of Note (In Order of Preference)

Jayson Aquino, LHP, 1.3 KATOH+ WAR – Scouts like Aquino because he works at a good pace and doesn’t pretentiously pitch off his below-average fastball early in games, instead mixing in a bevy of junk immediately. That onslaught of offspeed offerings is led by an above-average changeup in the 79-82 mph range. Aquino mimics his fastball’s arm speed, and the pitch has some fade. He also has a fringey cutter/slider in the 82-85 mph range and a loopy, mid-70s curveball. A repertoire like this requires high-end command to play at the major-league level. While Aquino throws a lot of strikes, he’s not necessarily surgical and therefore projects more as a spot starter/long man.

Alex Wells, LHP, 1.3 KATOH+ – Wells only sits 87-89 with his fastball but locates it at will and projects for plus command. He has an average changeup and fringey curveball, and if both tick up a half-grade while Wells develops he has a chance to be a fifth starter. He was signed out of Australia in 2015 for $300,000.

D.J. Stewart, LF, 0.7 KATOH+ – Stewart had favorable statistics at Florida State, hitting well in all three years there and walking more than he struck out (though he did K quite often) against mostly large-conference opponents. He lacked any modicum of physical projection as an amateur, but the Orioles thought they were getting a steady, stable bat who would hit and reach base enough to profile in left field despite pedestrian power. In pro ball, Stewart hasn’t hit consistently yet (though he’s still walking, a lot) and has been bad in left field. Scouts who saw him in the Fall League think he might need to move to first base and questioned his bat speed.

Brian Gonzalez, LHP, 0.5 KATOH+  – Scouts cite Gonzalez’s perceived lack of conditioning as a potential reason for his late-inning velocity woes. He’ll show you 93 but sits 88-91 and loses gas late in games. He has below-average command of that fastball, and his secondaries (an average changeup that flashes above and a fringey curveball) are solid but don’t give him much margin for error. He has a fifth-starter’s repertoire but needs to locate more consistently.

Donnie Hart, LHP – A low-slot lefty with fringey stuff, Hart’s slider plays up against left-handed htiters and should allow him to pitch as a LOOGY.

Parker Bridwell, RHP, 1.0 KATOH+ – Bridwell was moved to the bullpen in an effort to contend with injuries and improve his command as he aged into his mid-20s. Now 25, Bridwell looks like a bullpen piece, sitting 90-93 with his fastball and relying heavily on an above-average changeup. He also has a below-average slider/cutter in the 86-90 range. It’s effective when he’s locating it to his glove side, but he has difficulty getting around the side of the baseball when he’s working to the other side of the plate, and the pitch doesn’t move. There’s a seldom-used curveball in there, too.

Jimmy Yacabonis, RHP, 0.5 KATOH+ – St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia hasn’t had a big-league alumnus since Jamie Moyer’s retirement. Yacabonis, an arm-strength relief prospect, could be next. He was 94-97 for me in the Fall League with an average breaking ball that he needs to drive down beneath the zone more consistently. He has a chance to be a middle reliever but needs to repeat his arm slot (which varied quite a bit in the AFL) and throw more strikes.

Irving Ortega, SS – A potential plus defender, Ortega is very weak with the bat and there’s disagreement among scouts about how much strength he’s going to develop and how that might impact his ability to swing it.

Alexis Torres, UTIL – Torres, who was a fifth-rounder out of Puerto Rico in 2016, has flashy defensive actions and enough arm for the left side of the infield, but his bat likely relegates him to utility duty at some point.

Austin Wynns, C, 0.9 KATOH+ – A future 50 defender behind the plate with a 50 arm, Wynn projects as a staff-friendly backup or third catcher, his offensive output limited by fringey bat speed and a minimalistic approach to hitting that allows him to make consistent contact, but none that’s impactful. Wynns turned 26 in December.

Joe Gunkel, RHP, 2.5 KATOH+ – Gunkel garnered attention from scouts as a sophomore as they tailed West Chester teammate Joey Wendle during his draft year. He commands 88-91, with movement, and works this fastball in on the hands of righties. But that, along with an average changeup, may not be enough for Gunkel to carve out a regular big-league job, and he’s more of an up-and-down relief arm.

Itchy Xu, OF – Xu is the first player from MLB’s Chinese player development program to sign a pro contract and was on China’s WBC roster. He does have some feel to hit and bat control, but he’s not yet comfortable hitting against good live pitching and looks much better during BP than he does in games. He’s a 30 runner and limited on defense, so the bat needs to take several leaps forward. Realistically, he isn’t a prospect, just a first sign of baseball life from a place where there had not yet been one.

Cistulli’s Guy
Selected by Carson Cistulli from any player who received less than a 40 FV.

Yermin Mercedes, C, 1.6 KATOH+
Mercedes bears some resemblance to another player designated as Cistulli’s Guy (in this case, on the Arizona Diamondbacks list) — namely, shortstop Ildemaro Vargas. Both Mercedes and Vargas were signed out of an independent league. Both remain relatively young despite their brief detours in indy baseball. And both also offer a potentially useful combination of offensive and defensive skill.

As a catcher, Mercedes is riskier. While Vargas might ultimately have to play second or third base, he’d still offer positive defensive value at either one. Mercedes, on the other hand, is almost certainly either a catcher or first baseman. The offensive bar for the former position is quite low; the latter, quite high.

There’s reason for optimism, though. By Clay Davenport’s methodology, Mercedes has basically been an average catcher. By Baseball Prospectus’s methodology, Mercedes has basically been an average catcher. That, in addition to an offensive skill set marked by above-average contact rates and power conspires to create a promising overall profile.

*****

System Overview

The system would look a bit better if not for a few lost draft picks. Baltimore’s 2015 second-rounder, righty Jonathan Hughes, didn’t sign and is now a redshirt freshman at Georgia Tech and the Yellow Jackets’ Saturday starter. The club didn’t pick until the third round in 2014 and fourth-rounder Pat Connaughton, a righty from Notre Dame who was a good arm strength/athleticism prospect, chose the NBA and is playing sporadic minutes for Portland.

We hoped you liked reading Top 18 Prospects: Baltimore Orioles by Eric Longenhagen!

Please support FanGraphs by becoming a member. We publish thousands of articles a year, host multiple podcasts, and have an ever growing database of baseball stats.

FanGraphs does not have a paywall. With your membership, we can continue to offer the content you've come to rely on and add to our unique baseball coverage.

Support FanGraphs




Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

newest oldest most voted
cbooze
Member
cbooze

Just FYI, you guys have a typo in there for Sisco’s slash line at double-A. The batting average should be .320, not .207.