It’s been five years, so we’re revisiting the Baltimore Orioles Top 10 prospect list from 2015 and seeing how they panned out.
With the 2020 Baltimore Orioles preparing for another long season at the major league level, many more eyes will be on the minor league system, a system quickly climbing up the ranks as one of the better farm systems in baseball.
While the anticipation of watching top prospects like Adley Rutschman, DL Hall, Ryan Mountcastle, and Grayson Rodriguez gives fans hope for a brighter future at Camden Yards, there’s still a long road to reaching stardom at the major league level.
Some prospects will one day reach their potential, some even exceed what evaluators project, but most never quite reach the level of production many hoped for.
As a fun exercise, we’re looking back at the list of Top 10 Orioles prospects from 2015, a list that once held a lot of promise in Birdland, but hasn’t lived up to the hype. Per MLB Pipeline, here’s what the Top list looked like.
- RHP Hunter Harvey
- RHP Dylan Bundy
- OF DJ Stewart
- 3B Jomar Reyes
- 1B Christian Walker
- RHP Mychal Givens
- RHP Mike Wright
- C Chance Sisco
- RHP Tyler Wilson
- RHP David Hess
More than half of these names are still in the Baltimore Orioles organization, with four of them likely to find themselves on the 26-man Opening Day roster (Stewart would probably make five if he wasn’t recovering from injury). However, do any still have the potential to live up to their early billing?
10) RHP David Hess
Hess spent much of the 2018 and 2019 seasons at the big league level, but has struggled to find his footing with the Orioles. The former fifth-round draft pick out of Tennessee Tech is 4-20 with a 5.84 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, and .274 average against in 44 appearances. One of his biggest struggles has come from the long ball, giving up 50 home runs in 183 innings. Hess has revamped his offseason workout plan and will fight for a rotation spot in spring training this season, but unless he can make a major turnaround, he’s likely destined for a career as a 4A pitcher. Maybe Brandon Hyde should have kept Hess in that game against Toronto where he took a no-hitter into the 7th inning.
9) RHP Tyler Wilson
A product of the University of Virginia, I was always a fan of Tyler Wilson during his college days and was excited to see what he could do with the Orioles after they used a 10th-round pick on him back in 2011. Wilson left via free agency in 2017 after going 8-10 with 5.02 ERA across three seasons with the Orioles. He’s now one of the better pitchers in Korea, piling up 23 wins and a 2.99 ERA over the last two seasons with the LG Twins of the KBO. At 30 years of age, it’s unlikely Wilson gets another opportunity to pitch in the States, but he seems to have carved out his niche overseas.
8) C Chance Sisco
Some believe Sisco is still capable of proving himself in the major leagues, but the former top prospect has yet to show any concrete evidence of future success in the big leagues, up to this point. Without much defensive value behind the plate, Sisco will have to carry a big bat to make a home in the major leagues, something he hasn’t done in his recent opportunities. Sisco hit .181 in 63 games back in 2018 and .210 last season. If he can show consistency at the plate, there’s a chance he sticks around and serves as Adley Rutschman’s backup, but for now, he’s Pedro Severino‘s backup with a lot to prove.
7) RHP Mike Wright
He spent a lot of time moving between the big leagues and Triple-A, while also bouncing around between the bullpen and starting rotation during his time in Baltimore, but Mike Wright was never able to put it all together in an Orioles uniform, despite being given more than enough opportunities. Across parts of five seasons, Wright pitched to a 10-12 record and a 5.95 ERA. He was worth -1.2 bWAR and gave up 44 home runs. Wright was traded to Seattle for minor league infielder Ryne Ogren last April and now finds himself moving overseas this offseason, along with Gabriel Ynoa, Tayler Scott, and Aaron Brooks.
6) RHP Mychal Givens
Originally drafted as a shortstop back in 2009, Givens was destined to phase out of professional baseball after struggling to find much success at the plate in the lower minors, but a switch to pitcher completely changed his career path, a path that now finds Givens as a powerful bullpen arm for the Orioles. Since making his big league debut in 2015, Givens has been worth 5.6 WAR and despite coming off a down year in 2019, he did strike out a career-high 33% of batters faced. He’s been the center of trade talks since early-2019 and figures to be moved at some point in 2020.
5) 1B Christian Walker
A late-bloomer, Walker saw just 13 games of big league action with the Orioles, despite hitting 62 home runs over his final three years in the organization (20 in Double-A, 42 in Triple-A). Walker moved on to the Arizona Diamondbacks where he continued to mull around Triple-A before bursting onto the scene in 2019. Playing in 152 games for the Diamondbacks, Walker (28) hit .259 with 29 home runs and a 112 wRC+. He was worth 2.2 fWAR for Arizona and will return in 2020 looking to help his team capture a National League West title.
4) 3B Jomar Reyes
A rare Baltimore Orioles international signing at the time, Reyes and his well-noted raw power and large frame skipped over Dominican rookie ball and found quick success in the States as a 17-year-old. Now, Reyes is still just 22, but he’s been stuck in High-A ball for three years. His 6’3″ and 220-pound frame still possesses a lot of raw power, but this may be the end of the road for Reyes. Pipeline’s 2015 scouting report on Reyes said the power could play at either corner spot in the big leagues and become a middle-of-the-order bat for the Orioles, unfortunately, he’s struggled to overpower Carolina League pitchers since 2016.
3) OF DJ Stewart
There’s still a chance that Stewart develops into a serviceable outfielder, but slow starts and bad breaks have largely been the name of the game for the former Florida State outfielder and first-round pick of the Orioles. He proved last season that he was nothing left to learn in Triple-A, meaning 2020 is big season for Stewart. Either he proves his value at the major league level for the Orioles move on. His 82 wRC+ in the majors last year was the first time since his debut season in Aberdeen in which he posted a wRC+ lower than 100 and now he is starting behind the curve with offseason ankle surgery. A number of outfielders will demand playing time in 2020 and if Stewart wants to earn any, he’s going to have a tall hill to climb.
2) RHP Dylan Bundy
In 2012, Dylan Bundy was the second-ranked prospect in baseball behind then Texas Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar and just ahead of then Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Wil Myers. Tommy John surgery and shoulder injuries limited his playing time over the next few years, but evaluators were still high on his stuff and ability to be a productive rotation piece for years to come. Bundy has been a workhorse over the last three years (160+ IP each year), but decreasing velocity and an extreme amount of home runs have plagued his career.
Bundy seemed to turn a small corner last season, slashing his home run rate and ERA while increasing his groundball rate and dropping his batting average against nearly 20 points from 2018. His slider is still dominant and at 27, the righty is still capable being a backend starter on the right team. We’ll see if that team is the Los Angeles Angels, where Bundy was traded to this offseason for four pitching prospects.
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1) RHP Hunter Harvey
Hunter Harvey was drafted in the first round of the 2013 draft. Almost seven years later, Harvey still finds himself on Orioles Top Prospect lists and just might finally be ready to explode onto the major league scene. Major injury after major injury after major injury has derailed Harvey’s career, but evaluators still believed in his stuff enough to keep him ranked among the best in the game. The patience seems to have finally paid off.
Harvey is the last remaining hope on this list to produce real value for the Baltimore Orioles as he begins his first full season as a reliever. Making his major league debut last year, Harvey struck out 11 hitters across six innings, touched 100 mph a few times, and gave up one earned run on three hits. Is he the closer of the future for the Orioles? I don’t know about a specific role, but there’s no denying he has the stuff, makeup, and attitude on the mound to be a shut-down reliever for as long as his body holds up.
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