Baltimore Orioles Top 10 Prospects
Index of Top 10 Prospects for all 30 Major League Teams
By Will Lingo
1. Richard Stahl, lhp
Age: 20. B-T: R-L. Ht.: 6-7. Wt.: 185. Drafted: HSCovington, Ga., 1999 (1st round). Signed by:Lamar North.
Background:Stahl was part of the Orioles 1999 draft class, which included seven first-round picks. He got the largest bonus of the bunch, $1.795 million, enough to pry him away from Georgia Tech on the day he was to begin classes there. He signed too late to pitch in 1999 and threw just 89 innings in 2000 because of back trouble. He started strong in 2001, earning a promotion from low Class A Delmarva to high Class A Frederick after just six starts. He looked even better there, but shoulder trouble sidelined him again after six. He was picked for the Futures Game but didnt pitch because of the injury, and he made just one rehab appearance in July before getting shut down for the rest of the season. Doctors performed arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone spur but otherwise found no structural problems.
Strengths:Quite simply, no one else in the organization has a ceiling that matches Stahls. He has all the attributes to become a No. 1 starter, including a mid-90s fastball that could improve as he fills out his 6-foot-7 frame and gets consistent with his mechanics. He has a smooth, easy delivery that should keep his arm healthy once he fully matures. He has the makings of a plus curveball and made progress with it last year, though it remains inconsistent. His changeup is average but also has potential. A basketball player in high school, hes a good athlete.
Weaknesses:The Orioles say Stahls injuries have been the function of a growing body, not any chronic problems, but he still needs to prove he can stand up to the workload of a full season. Whats more, he needs the innings to refine his secondary pitches and command, and to learn more about how to attack hitters. As with most tall pitchers, he also needs to find consistent mechanics, which should solve many of his other weaknesses.
The Future:With plenty of time to recover from his shoulder ailment, Stahl should be sound and ready to move in 2002. Hell probably return to Frederick to start the season, but a strong spring or fast start in the regular season could get him to Double-A Bowie quickly.
2. Erik Bedard, lhp
Age: 23. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 180. Drafted: Norwalk (Conn.) CC, 1999 (6th round). Signed by:Jim Howard.
Background:Bedard has been one of the biggest surprises to come out of the Orioles big 1999 draft class. Much of the credit goes to scout Jim Howard, who has a knack for finding cold-weather pitchers. An Ontario native whose high school didnt have a baseball team, Bedard walked on to his junior college team and steadily has improved. He continued his progress with a good Arizona Fall League.
Strengths:The velocity on Bedards fastball has climbed from the 88-90 mph range when he signed to 90-92 now. He has a good curveball and changeup and good movement on all his pitches. The way he goes after hitters is outstanding, especially considering his limited experience. Opponents have batted just .214 against him for his career.
Weaknesses:Bedards pitches have no real shortcomings, but hes inconsistent and must stay focused to avoid big innings. He was shut down with a sore arm for six weeks in 2001 and needs to get stronger.
The Future:Added to the 40-man roster this winter, Bedard will get a look in major league camp. He should open the season in Double-A, but dont be surprised if he shows up in Baltimore sometime in 2002.
3. Keith Reed, of
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 215. Drafted: Providence, 1999 (1st round). Signed by:Jim Howard.
Background:Reed rose to the top of the Orioles prospect list entering 2001, but was inexplicably exposed to the Rule 5 draft after getting bounced around the system. He was bothered by a leg injury at the beginning of the season and a hand injury at Bowie, but bounced back with a solid three weeks at Triple-A Rochester.
Strengths:Regarded as one of the best athletes in the 1999 draft, Reed has done nothing to refute that. Hes a pure tools player with good bat speed and the potential for a terrific power-speed combination. And his arm may be his strongest tool.
Weaknesses:Reed still is unrefined and needs lots of at-bats, which explains why he wasnt a Rule 5 pick. He still hasnt tapped into his power or speed. Pitch recognition is his biggest weakness at this point, and he needs to learn how to stay back on balls. Some in the organization also question his work habits.
The Future:Reeds potential caused the Orioles to expect too much, too fast. He should return to Double-A and will develop into a good major league outfielder if the organization is patient.
4. Matt Riley, lhp
Age: 21. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 201. Drafted: Sacramento CC, D/F 1997 (3rd round). Signed by:Ed Sprague.
Background:Following a disastrous 2000 season that began with immature behavior in major league camp and ended with Tommy John surgery, Riley spent all of 2001 rehabilitating his left elbow. Hes expected to be ready for spring training in 2002, and by most accounts he has looked good in Florida workouts.
Strengths:When healthy, Riley throws a fastball that touches 97 mph, along with a curveball and changeup that also could be plus pitches in the major leagues. His delivery has looked more free and easy since the surgery, which bodes well for staying away from future injuries.
Weaknesses:Immaturity was Rileys biggest problem before he got hurt, and the injury may have helped him overcome that. He worked hard in rehab and should come to spring training in the best shape of his career. As with any injured pitcher, hell have to prove his arm is sound and make up for two lost years.
The Future:If Riley bounces back to pre-injury form, he gives the Orioles another premium lefty prospect. With the positive reports on his rehab, the organization is optimistic. Even so, hell probably start off in Double-A unless hes overwhelming in spring training.
5. Ed Rogers, ss
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 150. Signed: Dominican Republic, 1997. Signed by:Carlos Bernhardt.
Background:Orioles officials and fans compared Rogers with the best shortstops in baseball after the 2000 season, and the organization jumped him to Bowie to start 2001. He was overmatched there but regained his footing at Frederick. His brother Omar is an infielder who played at Rookie-level Bluefield in 2001.
Strengths:Rogers has pure shortstop tools, with smooth, fluid actions, a great arm and outstanding range. He makes the infield smaller for those who play around him. He runs well and started to show a little pop in his bat last season.
Weaknesses:Double-A pitchers dominated Rogers, who has a long way to go to become a major leaguer at the plate. He has no real plate discipline and will need a couple of years of at-bats to improve his strike-zone judgment.
The Future:Rogers has been taken off the fast track as the organization has tempered its expectations for him, at least in the short term. He still has a high ceiling if he can hit consistently. Hell probably return to high Class A this year to work on his hitting, and his bat will dictate how quickly he moves up.
6. Sean Douglass, rhp
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-6. Wt.: 200. Drafted: HSLancaster, Calif., 1997 (2nd round). Signed by:Gil Kubski.
Background:Douglass projected as a first-round pick before quitting his high school team midway through his senior year. He jump-started his pro career by beating the three first-round picks the Orioles took ahead of himsince-traded Jayson Werth, Darnell McDonald and Papy Ndungidito Baltimore.
Strengths:None of Douglass pitches knock hitters out, but taken together they give him a quality repertoire. His fastball sits in the low 90s, and he also has a good slider and changeup. He has an effortless delivery, and the ball comes out of his hand easily and gets on hitters fast. His demeanor and presence on the mound are also positives.
Weaknesses:When Douglass struggles, its because of problems with his command, which is very good when its on. Because he lacks an out pitch, he has to be precise and keep the ball down to succeed.
The Future:Douglass has the frame and ability to become a solid No. 3 starter in the big leagues, an innings-eater who takes the ball every five days. He should make the Baltimore staff this spring, possibly as a member of the rotation.
7. Tim Raines Jr., of
Age: 22. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 183. Drafted: HSSanford, Fla., 1998 (6th round). Signed by:Harry Shelton.
Background:Raines ran from Class A to the big leagues last year. On the way, he first played against his father (then with the Expos) in Triple-A. Then the Orioles traded for Tim Sr. and the two played together in the Baltimore outfield in October.
Strengths:Like his dad in his prime, Raines has outstanding speed that makes him a threat on both offense and defense. He projects as a leadoff man and started to figure things out at the plate in Bowie. He has surprising power potential for his size. He covers a lot of ground in the outfield and has a playable arm for center.
Weaknesses:A righthanded hitter growing up, Raines still is adjusting to batting from the left side. To be an effective leadoff man, hell need to improve his plate discipline and make better use of his speed.
The Future:The progress Raines showed in 2001 was exciting, but the Orioles rushed him a bit. Hell probably return to Double-A to begin this season and needs another full year in the minors.
8. Willie Harris, 2b/of
Age: 23. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 5-9. Wt.: 175. Drafted: Kennesaw State (Ga.), 1999 (24th round). Signed by:Lamar North.
Background:A late-round pick who has gone from organizational player to legitimate prospect through strength of will, Harris is the nephew of former big leaguer Ernest Riles. He was born in Cairo, Ga., and became just the second big leaguer from the townfollowing Jackie Robinson.
Strengths:Harris biggest strength is his drive, which allows him to play above his tools. He has solid skills and his makeup is off the charts. Hes determined to be a major leaguer and doesnt get discouraged by setbacks. His speed is a tick above average, allowing him to play second base or center field, and his bat is his best tool.
Weaknesses:Harris has just enough pop in his bat to get himself in trouble when he starts swinging from his heels. Because his tools arent overwhelming and hes just 5-foot-9, hell have to prove himself every year and at every level.
The Future:The Orioles started comparing Harris to Tony Phillips last year, and he continues to fulfill those expectations. Hell start 2002 in Triple-A and should be in Baltimore by the end of the year.
9. John Stephens, rhp
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 200. Signed: Australia, 1996. Signed by:Brett Ward.
Background:The Eastern Leagues ERA champ in 2001, Stephens has proven himself at every level in spite of velocity that wouldnt get the attention of scouts at a high school game. His fastball slowed after nerve damage in his arm in 1998 at Delmarva, and it never has fully recovered.
Strengths:The comparison to Greg Maddux is an obvious one because Stephens is a surgeon on the mound. He gets hitters out by changing speeds and putting the ball exactly where he wants it with a deceptive delivery. He essentially has six different changeups, making his 82-86 mph fastball effective. His curveball is slow with a big break, making it look almost like a softball pitch.
Weaknesses:Though his velocity has come back a bit, Stephens is still a soft tosser with a small margin for error. Hell have to prove himself seemingly with every start.
The Future:Stephens will return to Rochester, where he put up the highest ERA of his career last year. If he proves he can get Triple-A hitters out, he could get the improbable callup to Baltimore. The Orioles have given an opportunity to Josh Towers, who has a similar fastball.
10. Bryan Bass, ss
Age: 19. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 180. Drafted: HSSeminole, Fla., 2001 (1st round supplemental). Signed by:Harry Shelton.
Background:Bass moved from Alabama to Florida to get more exposure for the draft before the 2001 season, but it didnt work out. He started out at Westminster Academy in Fort Lauderdale and transferred to Seminole (Fla.) High, but a snafu made him ineligible. He turned down a University of Alabama football scholarship to sign for $1.15 million.
Strengths:Scouting director Tony DeMacio remembers seeing Bass as a ninth grader while scouting his older brother Kevin for the Cubs. Even then, Bryan drew attention. He loves to play and makes big plays at the plate and in the field. His bat is his best tool, and he offers power from both sides of the plate.
Weaknesses:Despite good hands and a solid arm, Bass is a step short in terms of range and probably will end up at third base. Second base is another possibly. He comes off as arrogant to some people, and the Orioles would like him to tone that down a bit.
The Future:Bass is in a hurry to get to the big leagues. If he hits the way he did in his debut, he could move quickly. He should open his first full pro season in low Class A.
Rest of the Best:
11. Beau Hale, rhp
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