Hello Orioles Fans,
My name is Joe Barnes, and I am the lead blogger at ebonybird.com, Fansided’s Ravens blog. I have always been a huge O’s fan, and here at Birds Watcher, I am going to be the minor league/prospect specialist. So, now I bring you my take on this year’s top prospects in the Orioles system. Throughout the year, I’ll be adding prospect profiles and reports on the minor league affiliates of the team. Enjoy!
Top 10 Position Players
1. Matt Wieters-C, 22: Wieters has the perfect blend of power and patience at the plate, and has the perfect blend of offense and defense. In one game that I saw him in last year in Frederick, he had 2 HRs, 5 RBI, and threw out 3 runners trying to steal bases. On February 27th, Baseball America named him their top prospect of 2009. Wieters is the first Oriole to earn that honor
2. Nolan Reimold-OF, 25: #2 is a toss-up spot between Reimold, Brandon Snyder and Bill Rowell. Reimold wins it because he’s the closest to The Show, and has the best power of the three.
3. Brandon Snyder-1B/3B, 22: Snyder had fallen off many top prospect lists after a dissapointing pro debut in his first two full seasons, but a .300 average and an improvement in power at Frederick in 2008 made Snyder a major prospect once again
4. Bill Rowell-3B, 20: Rowell used to be a top-10 MLB prospect when he was drafted in 2006, but after performing well under expectations, Rowell has been less revered in rankings. Last year he had a dismal first half, but got very hot in the late summer months. He should be in Bowie this year and continue to progress.
5. L.J. Hoes-2B/OF, 19: “LJH” was the O’s 3rd round pick in the 2008 draft, and played very well in the Gulf Coast League. HE draws tons of walks, and once he gets on base, he takes advantage of it, being a great base stealer.
6. Xavier Avery-OF,19: Avery is an incredible athlete. He has nice power and had a .280 average in the GCL, but is even more impressive when he’s not in the batter’s box. He makes incredible plays in the outfield, and stole 13 bases in 47 games in a level where stealing bases is not a staple of gameplay. L.J. Hoes and Avery could be a tandem coming through the system with each other.
7. Ryan Adams-2B, 21: Adams is a Brian Roberts-type player, who has ok power for his small size, but has an incredibly quick bat and is fast on the basepaths and great in the field. Adams is another one of the versatile, fast players the Orioles have started drafting in the last few years.
8. Lou Montanez-OF, 27: Yes, he’s still considered a prospect, and a good one at that. He would be ranked much higher, maybe in the top 3 if he wasn’t so old. “Louie Monty” will have the most immediate impact of any player on this list, maybe even more than Wieters, because of the depth he brings the big club.
9. Caleb Joseph-C,22: The catcher from Lipscomb was a pleasant surprise for the Orioles’ system while in Aberdeen, showing power and leadership on the field. The main question mark with Joseph is whether he can stop swinging at bad pitches and draw some more walks.
10. Tyler Henson-IF, 21: Henson is another versatile player great on the basepaths and with the glove. At Delmarva this year, he stole 20 bases in 127 games, a good number for the Sally League. He also hit 11 homers and drove in 66 runs at Delmarva, a dimension of his hitting the Orioles had not expected to see: power. The big question mark is again, plate discipline. Henson struck out 120 times and drew only 20 walks last season.
Top 10 Pitchers
1. Chris Tillman-LH SP,21: It was tearing me apart putting Matusz at #2, but Tillman has proven himself as a great hurler already, going 11-4 last year with a 3.54 ERA and striking out 154 batters. How dumb were the Mariners? They gave us 4 of our key pieces of our ML team: our future Griffey (Adam Jones), our future ace (Tillman), our closer (Sherril), and our future shutdown setup man (Kam Mickolio)
2. Brian Matusz-LH SP, 22: Through spring training so far, Matusz has apparently looked like a seasoned veteran on the mound. He could be up as early as the summer of this 09′ season if needed, and should be great. Seeing clips, he looks deceptive and has great stuff.
3. Jake Arrieta-RH SP, 22: Arrieta is a beast. Simple as that. He dominated Frederick and Bowie for a season, striking out anyone who dared swing at his stuff, and dominating international competition at the Olympics. Hopefully the team will get him up as soon as possible, but usher him in slowly. We don’t want to lose this guy by rushing him, but on the other hand, the O’s need him.
4. Troy Patton-LH SP, 23: Patton goes above Brandon Erbe for one reason: his track record. In over 300 minor league innings, Patton has kept a 2.75 ERA. The big league club needs consistency like that, especially with “The Daniel Cabrera Era” over, and hopefully Patton will be fully recovered from his Tommy John surgery and make an immediate impact for the rotation.
5. Brandon Erbe-RH SP, 21: Erbe has incredible raw talent, but needs to control it. He throws 98 consistently with his fastball, and when he has command of it he’s unhittable. Literally. Erbe has had three outing where he’s allowed no hits. Once for 7 innings in August, and twice for 6 innings in 2007. Other times, he’s walked 10 or more and hasn’t gotten out of the 2nd inning. He’s a project, and will probably be in Bowie to start the season.
6. Brad Bergesen-RH SP, 23: We all know how good of a season this guy had in 2008, and know that he could immediately help the team in ’09. He doesn’t have great stuff, but then again, who needs great stuff to succeed in the MLB? He can strike out hitters at a good rate, and keeps the ball on the ground. He looks like a weathered veteran on the mound, and should be exciting to watch.
7. Chorye Spoone-LH SP, 23: Spoone might not have the great stuff of an elite prospect, but he gets the job done night in and night out. He has an incredible sinker and gets batters to pound out grounders all the time. He’s an inning eater, but sometimes has less than stellar mound composure and lets his emotions get to him.
8. Pedro Beato-RH SP, 22: Beato has a rocket launcher for an arm, but has some control issues. His stuff is incredible, but he needs some smoothing of the edges to develop into a big-league pitcher. He walks too many batters, and gets afraid when he’s down in the count.
9. Kam Mickolio-RH RP, 24: Mickolio was an enforcer on the mound last year in September at some times, and solid as a rock during other times. He’s 6’9″ and giant, if you’ve never seen him pitch. His fastball gets up in the mid to high 90′s, and he should be solid in middle relief for the O’s this year.
10. David Hernandez-RH SP, 23: Hernandez’ stats don’t look great, especially his ERA, but don’t let them fool you. If you take out a few bad outings form last year, his ERA drops 1.23 points from his sub 5.00 ERA. His stuff is great and he has great mound maturity. Expect to see his name in the next couple years in the big leagues.