Dan Duquette is betting on the Orioles’ farm system


The Baltimore Orioles have not been brought up in conversations about the 2014 Winter Meetings. The reason for this being that they really have not made any “big name” signings. Today was the first time people heard the Orioles made some type of acquisition at the Winter Meetings and they were two pitchers from the Rule 5 Draft.

With this lack of deals being made (or not being made) by the Orioles, Baltimore fans are given the impression that Dan Duquette is comfortable with the players the Orioles have now, especially the prospects in their farm system who are about to make a splash in the Major Leagues.

The top three Minor Leaguers the Orioles have who you will see make an impact are:

  1. Dylan Bundy
  2. Dariel Alvarez
  3. Christian Walker

Dylan Bundy is the Orioles’ No. 1 prospect right now. After undergoing Tommy John Surgery in 2013, he rehabbed throughout the 2014 season, making it all the way up to Single-A Frederick by the end of the season. In 2014, Bundy pitched in nine games and maintained a combined 3.27 ERA with 37 total strikeouts and a 1.306 WHIP.

The Orioles have six starters right now on their active roster if you count Ubaldo Jimenez. However, with rumors of one or two pitchers being used as bait for a possible trade for an outfielder, Bundy will have a legitimate chance this spring to be considered as a starter, if not at least a middle reliever in the bullpen.

Dariel Alvarez is a name Orioles fans should familiarize themselves with. With a desperate need for outfielders, Alvarez could fit the bill quite nicely. As a superb defender, Alvarez had a combined .981 fielding percentage in 2014 with 14 total assists and five double plays turned. Alvarez could fill the hole left by Nick Markakis in right field.

Alvarez is a consistent batter as well. Batting .311/.336/.484 while in the Orioles farm system the past two seasons, Alvarez has proven that he can hit. Hitting 15 home runs in 2014, there is some signs of power in his bat, but the biggest bright side of Alvarez is not his power. He will hit the ball in the gaps and get into scoring position. With 64 extra-base hits, all signs point to this.

Alvarez could be a nice addition to the bottom part of the Orioles’ lineup where base hits were hard to come by in 2014.

Christian Walker. Fans got a little taste of Walker near the end of the 2014 regular season. In six games played with the Orioles, Walker only recorded three hits, but one of them was his first Major League career home run to center field. Power is what Walker was known for in the Minors as he hit 26 home runs and drove in 96 runs during the 2014 season between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk.

Statistically speaking, Walker is a good first baseman with a .991 fielding percentage in three season down in the Orioles’ farm system. However, he has been ridiculed by many critics that he does not have a good feel for the position and is not able to play any other defensive position.

Yet, if Chris Davis does not bounce back in 2015, manager may have to pick between Walker and Steve Pearce as his replacement, which makes this upcoming Spring Training that much more important.

Dan Duquette has not given up on signing another free agent outfielder and says they could sign one as early as next week. However, if that falls through, Orioles fans should not completely throw the towel in for the 2015 season because Baltimore has these and other high-valued prospects waiting for their moment to break into the Majors.