Baltimore Orioles: Top 10 Prospects Chat With Will Lingo

Baltimore Orioles: Chat




Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2008.

Moderator: Will is running a few minutes late but will get right to your questions momentarily...

 Q:  Chad from Dallas asks:
Would it be too premature to start comparing Wieters to Joe Mauer? It seems that if Wieters can improve a few mechanics in his hitting approach he could be the league's next best catcher.
 A: 

Will Lingo: Sorry I'm running late, folks. Glad to get back in the swing of things after the holiday break and kick off the American League prospect lists. Let's jump right in...

Will Lingo: It's too soon to compare Wieters to a guy who is already a major league standout from the standpoint that he hasn't played a pro game yet (Hawaii notwithstanding), but from a tools perspective, there's nothing wrong with it. Wieters has everything you could want in a catching prospect, and he's exactly the kind of difference-making player the Orioles need.

 Q:  Chad from Dallas asks:
I was surprised to see Arrieta make the top 10. I know when he's healthy he's solid, but it seems that there are too many flaws in his mechanics. Were you surprised that the Orioles picked him so high, or do you think with some adjustments, Arrieta will be back on track?
 A: 

Will Lingo: I think Arrieta will be fine with minor mechanical adjustments, and that's definitely what the Orioles think as well. (Obvious, since they invested $1.1 million in him.) He looked much better pitching in the Arizona Fall League than he did during the spring at TCU, and the Orioles also had scouts who saw him good as a sophomore, so they're excited about his potential.

 Q:  Stotle from New York asks:
How would you compare the arms in the Baltimore system to those in Boston and New York — based on quality andor quantity? Thanks!
 A: 

Will Lingo: I think both the Yankees and Red Sox have bigger arms at the top of their prospect lists—Clay Buchholz and Joba Chamberlain are among the best prospects in the game—but I would put the Orioles' depth right behind the Yankees. I would dare say that if you asked Jim Callis (who does our Red Sox list) and John Manuel (Yankees) the same question, though, they would probably rank those organizations ahead of the Orioles.

 Q:  Joe R. from Newport News, VA asks:
Garrett Olson seems to be virtually identical to Troy Patton — a left-hander, virtually certain to top out as a #3 starter — yet Patton ranks #3 while Olson is nowhere to be found. Did Olson's limited major league action cause him to drop that much?
 A: 

Will Lingo: All of Patton's pitches probably grade out a little better than Olson's, and while the sample size is very small, he didn't look overmatched in the big leagues, while Olson did. He's also a full two years younger than Olson. And while Patton does have the ceiling of a No. 3 starter, he's a much better bet to reach that ceiling, I think. But you're right, there's not a whole lot of difference between their profiles. And Olson is just off the top 10 list, so it's not like we've given up on him.

 Q:  Chad from Dallas asks:
Kieron Pope. Any chance he rebounds from a 20 game season? Even if he wasn't injured, does his inability to hit for average hurt his chances at the bigs?
 A: 

Will Lingo: We refuse to give up on Pope—yet. He had shoulder surgery last spring and got just 66 at-bats, as you note, which is the last thing you want to see for a guy who needs lots and lots of minor league at-bats. He saw some action at DH in instructional league and should be healthy for spring training. He has a lot of juice in his bat, but the key will be getting the ball on the bat more often. He has to be classified as a longshot at this point, but it would be nice to see a full season of performance before we make a judgment.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Was Costanzo considered for the Top 10? (He would have been ranked on three of your lists this year).
 A: 

Will Lingo: It's not a BA chat without Jaypers. Costanzo was considered (Patton came in at No. 3), but finished just off the list. Biggest question for me is how much he'll hit because I think he'll definitely end up at first base. He's willing to take a walk but also strikes out a lot, so he'll need to have huge power. The Orioles could also have a glut there with Rowell and Snyder also likely to end up at first.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
Your evaluation of Ryan Adams? Is there any room at SS in Camden for him in the coming years?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Adams had a bad year, batting .236 at Aberdeen, so he'll need a big bounceback in 2008 to work his way back into their plans. He also played much more at second base than short last year and looks like a better long-term fit there. His main problem last year was getting too carried away with trying to crush the ball and pulling off offspeed pitches. He still has good tools, so he'll get another chance this season.

 Q:  Nick from New York asks:
Hi Will; thanks for the chat! Where would you estimate the Orioles's system ranks overall? How high a boost would it receive from potentially adding VottoBaileyetc. or JonesClementetc.?
 A: 

Will Lingo: The Orioles are solidly in the middle of the talent rankings now, with good depth but not enough impact players like Wieters. Adding more players like that is never a bad thing, so that could drive them up a few spots if any of those deals come together.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
Where was the love for Joe Mahoney, and is he a Top 30 guy? Was Baltimore right in grabbing him where they did?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Wow, several questions on Richmond alum Mahoney, the Orioles' sixth-round pick in June. It was hard to decide how many players from the 07 draft class to rank (in the top 10 and top 30 for the Prospect Handbook), and Mahoney finished just outside the 30. He has plus-plus power potential but needs to clean up his swing some. He's a good athlete for his size and showed potential in instructional league along with hitting nine home runs in Aberdeen, so he'll bear watching this year. Chasing power, particularly for the Orioles, is never a bad idea.

 Q:  Eric from Elk Grove asks:
Will, thanks for the chat. I was happy to see your rosy outlook for the electric Radhames Liz. I'm a big fan, but he seems to get very mixed reviews from scouts who either write him off as a future reliever or even more terrifying, the next Daniel Cabrera! <shudder> Do you have anything more to add on why we should believe?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Excellent use of <shudder>. I think the main thing that has impressed me in the last couple of years has been how definitively Liz has stepped forward as a starter. He seemed like a cinch to be a reliever a couple of years ago, but he improved all his pitches and has made a believer of me. Now a move to the bullpen isn't really discussed very much, though obviously it's there as a fallback position. A 23-year-old getting knocked around in his first big league experience doesn't worry me that much. I think he'll do much better the next time around.

 Q:  J.P. from Springfield asks:
I heard Wieters' signing was basically a miracle for the O's, as the two sides were about $3 mil apart up until the day of the deadline. Any truth to this?
 A: 

Will Lingo: I don't know the specific numbers, but I know when Jim Callis was following all the signings for us leading up to the deadline, at one point close—very close—to zero hour he and his sources had basically written off the Wieters signing. So it was a huge score at the last second.

 Q:  J.P. from Springfield asks:
No Patton on your 2011 Lineup Card?
 A: 

Will Lingo: As we've discussed before, the future lineups have a lot of limitations. But you the readers still love them, so we keep em around. So Bedard is still the No. 1 guy for 2011 even though it seems likely the Orioles are anxious to deal him. But we don't assume trades or free-agent departures for lineup purposes. We also give credit to Jeremy Guthrie for his big league performance, and slot Matt Albers in there because we think he'll be better than Patton, even though he isn't eligible for our prospect list. And yet I think Patton will pitch in the Baltimore rotation this season. Go figure.

 Q:  Jay from Madison asks:
Bob McCrory vs. James Hoey. who's better and is either good enough to be a closer?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Both have closer stuff, though I give McCrory the nod if he can stay healthy. Both are in the 11-20 range in the Prospect Handbook. McCrory seems more likely to end up as a closer to me, while Hoey seems like he's being groomed for more of a middle-relief role.

 Q:  Not JAYPERS from NYC asks:
David Hernandez pile up a lot of K's, doesn't give up that many hits compared to IP but still has a pretty high ERA. Is he a guy that is a couple of adjustments from really turning the corner to becoming a top prospect? Where does he fit in the top 30 and whats his ceiling?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Hernandez comes in at No. 15, and if he can improve his command he could definitely take a big step forward. He has always generated big strikeout numbers—single season and career record holder at Consumnes River (Calif.) JC—because of a very deceptive delivery, but he does give up too many hits and home runs because he tends to leave the ball up at times. His ceiling would be middle of the rotation starter, but we'll see how he fares in Double-A before we really try to nail that down.

 Q:  Hoosiers from Hangout North asks:
Great chats. I believe Spoone was the highest rate Oriole in the BA League Top 20s at #6 in the Carolina League, yet he's eighth in the Os Top 10. Can you please explain the disparity (other than Wieters, of course)? Thanks.
 A: 

Will Lingo: Our league and organization prospect lists often have ratings that don't mesh for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is new players coming into the organization—Wieters, Patton and Arrieta all either weren't Orioles or weren't playing anywhere during the minor league season. Also for our league lists we talk to managers, who tend to base their evaluations more on performance, while our org lists are based more on scouts' opinions and a player's ultimate potential. The talent level and number of teams in a league also make comparing those rankings tough. Getting ranked in the eight-team Carolina League isn't as tough as the 16-team Sally League, for example. Either way, though, Spoone had a great year and looks like he has a legitimate big league future.

 Q:  Nick from New York asks:
Glad to see some talent building up in the Birds' system! Where in the top 30 did CostanzoAlbersSarfate fall?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Great response from O's fans today! I'm going to have to switch into at least moderate lightning mode to make a dent in all the questions.

Will Lingo: Free Handbook preview! Constanzo ended up at No. 11, while Sarfate is No. 20. Albers is no longer eligible for our prospect lists, but as alluded to earlier he is in our 2011 rotation, so he clearly would have been in the top 10.

 Q:  alexei from St Johnsbury, VT asks:
Where is Zach Britton rated? Is is ceiling the front end of the rotation?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Britton has a lot of potential, with a live, low-90s fastball, but the Orioles have kept him on a short leash so far so it's a little early to tell on his ceiling. He made a lot of progress with his slider in instructional league, so that could be a pitch that elevates him on next year's prospect list. He's in the 20s this time around.

 Q:  Mark from Arlington asks:
Is Hayden Penn still eligible for the list? Also, Tim Bascom had a good rookie season, what are the teams thoughts on him? Thanks
 A: 

Will Lingo: Penn is no longer eligible, and I have no idea what to make of him at this point. Tim Bascom is a very interesting pitcher who pitched indy ball last year after a draft snafu from 2006 prompted Central Florida to declare him ineligible (too complicated to explain here, but just search our site). He was a bit rusty last year as he worked back into game shape, but he has a good feel for pitching and can touch 93-94 mph with his fastball. He should open the season in the Frederick rotation.

 Q:  J.J. from Annapolis asks:
The O' made noise with Wieters and Arrieta, but what do you think of some of the quieter picks they made like Bascom, Kolodny, Binick, Mahoney, and Angle. Also who do you see as the best sleeper in their 07 draft?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Too early to know for sure, of course, but I think it's a draft with a lot of potential. Very college heavy, which I didn't really grasp until I was putting together the prospect list. Kolodny was one of just two high school players they signed, if I remember correctly. They signed a lot of college pitchers who have a chance, including Shane Matthews and John Mariotti.

 Q:  Matt from Harrisburg asks:
Thoughts on Brandon Tripp? How close was he to the Top 10?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Tripp lands in the 15-20 range after his first full season, and he has made adjustments to his swing that now give him a chance to become an everyday outfielder and tap into his plus raw power.

 Q:  Not JAYPERS from NYC asks:
What are your thought on Henson? He had a very strong year in the Penn league and was the youngest player to make the all star team in the league. Do you see him sticking at SS and where does he fit in the top 30?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Tyler Henson is in the 21-30 range but is a good athlete who looks like he has a chance to hit after looking overmatched in his first pro season. He made 30 errors in 67 games at shortstop last year and he's still growing, so I would expect him to end up at third base. Definitely a darkhorse guy to watch as he heads into his first full season.

 Q:  Not JAYPERS from NYC asks:
Matt Angel is listed as the 2011 CF. Is that more of a result of the O's not really having any other strong CF prospect or does angle really have the ceiling of an everyday outfielder?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Not Jaypers getting a lot of love today. Definitely a factor of the lack of candidates. You'll also notice Luis Hernandez at short, even though I didn't include him in my top 30, a subject of rancorous, heated debate here at BA HQ. But Angle does have the potential to be an everyday player. He has good leadoff skills and actually embraces that role.

 Q:  Mike from Lynchburg, VA asks:
I'm going to order the handbook :) - but where did you rank Wieters in your personal top 50 overall? Where did this compare to other 2007 top draftees?
 A: 

Will Lingo: I ranked Wieters No. 21 on my list for the book, though that could definitely change by the time we rank a full 150 for our Top 100 Prospects list that wraps up prospect season. At any rate, I think that's just behind David Price, who was the No. 1 pick and the only 07 draftee I rated ahead of Wieters. Callis and Manuel both rated Wieters at No. 15, by the way.

 Q:  Stotle from New York asks:
It seems like BA is fairly positive with regards to the direction of the Orioles farm system. Is it possible this franchise is in a position to compete with BOS and NYY by 2010? Will it be possible for any team in the AL East to consistently compete with the big two solely by building from within?
 A: 

Will Lingo: I think things are going well in scouting and player development, but the big league roster still is far, far behind the Red Sox and Yankees. But with MacPhail in charge and Angelos promising to keep his hands off, I think there's hope, at least. I think the Rays will show us if it's possible to compete in the AL East just by building from within. But the Orioles have the resources to supplement their roster if they can develop a few stars, too.

 Q:  Jerry from NYC asks:
What is the deal with Fiorentino? They rush him up to Baltimore and now he looks like organizational fodder. I know he's been hurt, his swing is all upper half (thank you, various Prospect Handbooks), but is there any upside here?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Fiorentino is still on the list, though he has fallen into the 20s. I've always thought of him as an ideal fourth outfielder for a winning team.

 Q:  Jim from MA asks:
Will- If you were MacPhail, would you trade Bedard in the rebuilding process or try to extend him and build around him?
 A: 

Will Lingo: My first inclination is to keep him and build around him, but there's nothing wrong with shopping him and seeing what the offers are. If you get blown away by an offer, go for it, because you aren't winning this year anyway.

 Q:  Kyle from Arbutus, MD asks:
How much does age at a given level of the system play into the analysis of a prospect. For example, Rowell and Erbe played well ahead of the average age of their league, but both also slipped in this year's rankings. Did getting moved up hurt them as prospects?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Age is very important, but so is performance. It's not enough to be young for your league. You have to be young and excel for it to really mean something.

 Q:  Joe from Easton, MD asks:
Hey Will. Happy New Year. How much concern is there right now amongst scouts that Billy Rowell's make-up is going to be a long-term issue? I've heard that his ego has made him difficult to work with and at times become an issue in the clubhouse.
 A: 

Will Lingo: Happy New Year to everyone out there as well. And thanks to the BCS and college football's money-grubbing hypocrites for ruining what used to be one of the best days of the year. If you're going to make bowl season interminable, why not at least make the system lead to some determination about the best team in the nation? Sorry about that, but USC-Illinois and Georgia-Hawaii yesterday? Ugh.

Will Lingo: Anyhoo... Heard less concern about Rowell's makeup this year than last, so I'll take that as a good sign. The problem is that his performance dropped off significantly, in part due to his oblique strain.

 Q:  Warren from Texas asks:
just wondering if there were any sleepers in the system that you would like to mention? Thanks for the chat!
 A: 

Will Lingo: I think we've talked about quite a few, but here's a deep sleeper for you: Dashenko Ricardo, a catcher from Curacao who hit .297 in the Dominican Summer League last year. Good body, strong arm, good hands.

 Q:  Adam from VA asks:
Do you think the Orioles made the right decision taking Weiters with their first round choice? No knock on Matt because he is a tremendous player, but would a projectable college pitcher, such as Ross Detwiler, made a little more sense based on the immeadeate needs of the MLB club?
 A: 

Will Lingo: I think it was absolutely the right call for the Orioles. They have a crying need for impact bats in the big leagues, and if they can get one at a premium position, all the better.

Will Lingo: Just got word that Fiorentino has been designated for assignment but is likely to stay with the organization, so that gives you some idea of where he stands in the Orioles' eyes.

 Q:  jamie from jonesville, va asks:
Does Beato have the stuff to crack a major league starting rotation someday, or is he just a project destined for middle relief?
 A: 

Will Lingo: I think he can definitely pitching in a rotation. I look for him to move up the list next year.

Will Lingo: I wish I could go on, but my kids would be very sad if I didn't pick them up this afternoon. Thanks for all the great questions, and keep hope alive O's fans!