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, 2009.

Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
While Wieters was a no-brainer to lead off your list, just how close was it between Tillman and Matusz for the #2 slot?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Monday: A Hold Steady and Drive-By Truckers twinbill in beautiful downtown Raleigh. Tuesday: An election that, no matter your feelings, looks like a generational signpost. Wednesday: Kicking off another great year of prospect rankings with the Orioles top 10 and chat. What more could you ask for? Well, how about the Almanac going to press on Friday? It's truly a memorable and exhausting week here, so let's jump right in.

Will Lingo: I did not, in fact, have to use my brain to make Wieters No. 1, but I think you could justify any order of the three pitchers who follow him. Tillman got the nod because he excelled at Double-A at a young age, but Matusz could have four plus pitches with command, and Arrieta could have the best fastball of the group. Great situation for the Orioles to have three legit big league starters of the future assuming everyone continues on the right path.

 Q:  Jon from Northeast asks:
I am curious why David Hernandez was left off your list. At age 23 he put up a 2.70 ERA in AA, K-ing 166 in 141 IP with almost a 2.5 K/BB rate...what am I missing?
 A: 

Will Lingo: He will certainly be in the 11-15 range when you read the full top 30 in our Prospect Handbook, so it's no slap against him that he doesn't make the top 10. But I would say overall the feeling I get from those who have seen Hernandez is that he has a pretty low ceiling and gets his strikeouts more from deception than overpowering stuff. He has a 92-93 mph fastball and good slider, but his changeup isn't there yet. I think the Orioles would actually like him to not pitch for strikeouts as much to keep his pitch counts down. Most people see him more as a bullpen guy than a big league starter, so that's why you don't see him in the top 10.

 Q:  John from Pensacola, FL asks:
Is Kieron Pope a lost cause? It doesn't seem like he's made any adjustments..
 A: 

Will Lingo: I wouldn't say he's a lost cause yet just because he hasn't stayed healthy enough to get the at-bats he needs to find out if he can tap into his tremendous raw power. Coming off shoulder surgery this year he still didn't play every day, and was mostly at DH with a few games a week in the outfield. He obviously strikes out way too much, and the main thing he's working on is just seeing pitches better, recognizing breaking balls and letting the ball get deeper before he commits to swinging. He guesses way too much now and tries to outthink the pitcher, but the only way to cure something like that is with at-bats. So let's see if he can have a healthy season playing in the outfield every day and then we can more fully judge him.

 Q:  Otto from DC asks:
Did Hoes and Avery crack your 11-20 range? What are your thoughts on them?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Those guys will certainly be in that neighborhood and got some consideration for the top 10. In past years, they would have been welcome additions to an O's top 10 list. I would say Avery probably has a higher ceiling, while Hoes is a little more advanced as a hitter at this point. Avery is a great athlete with great hands, and the Orioles think he can be a .300 hitter with power down the road. Hoes already swings the bat well and shows a knack for using the whole field, so his big challenge will be learning to play second base.

 Q:  Mike from Tampa asks:
What is wrong with Pedro Beato? If he's really pushing 95 with his fastball, any off-speed pitch whatsoever should yield better results than he has the past two seasons. He's been simply horrible.
 A: 

Will Lingo: Beato is one of the players I'm most interested in seeing next year. I think some people have already written him off, and after the 2008 season that's certainly understandable to a degree. His velocity just wasn't there this season, and no one seems quite sure why. There were reports of arm trouble, but he was checked out a couple of times and no one ever found any physical problems. The Orioles worked on his delivery in instructional league and apparently his stuff was back to where it was when he was drafted. He went down to the Orioles' Dominican complex to work more, though there are no plans for him to pitch in winter ball. So we'll just have to see what we get from Beato when '09 opens.

 Q:  Mike from Tampa asks:
BA may rank some teams over Baltimore because of farm system depth, but how many teams really have a top 5 better than Wieters, Tillman, Matusz, Arrieta, and Reimold?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Double-play for Mike in Tampa! I think the Orioles' top five does compare favorably with just about any other organization's. As you say, the depth probably isn't as good, but if you're going to pick one or the other, I think history shows us having a few studs is better than having a bigger group of middling players. The key of course is for those studs to become studs in the major leagues. It's hard to tell this early in prospect season exactly how the organizations will stack up, because seeing the lists and reading the scouting reports can change your preconceived notions about where you think teams should be, but the Orioles feel like a top 10 organization to me.

 Q:  Eddie C from Acworth, GA asks:
Will, Where do you think Chorye Spoone ranked prior to his injury? Thanks!!!!
 A: 

Will Lingo: He was a top 10 guy before the injury, but shoulder injuries for pitchers are always scary, especially a guy with a power arm like his. Troy Patton of course faces the same concern, but reports on him out of instructional league were good and he has more of a track record and less reliance on power than Spoone, so he's back in the top 10. Spoone will probably be back in action sometime in the middle of the 2009 season.

 Q:  Jim from Cincinnati, OH asks:
I know we're a few months away from your Top 100 Prospects list, but who would you give odds on to be your # 1 guy - Wieters, Price or neither?
 A: 

Will Lingo: I do think that's who the debate will come down to, and it's already being discussed here in the halls of Baseball America. I would pick Wieters, possibly because I'm biased because I do the O's top 10, but in my mind because he's a guy who should hit for average and power, and oh yeah he's a switch-hitter, and oh yeah he's a catcher and a good one at that, and then all the intangibles are not just there but are the subject of effusive praise from anyone who has been around him. It's not just that there are no holes in his game, it's that he's at least above-average in just about every way. There is no wrong answer to the Price-Wieters question, but I'll take Wieters.

 Q:  Frank from Chula Vista, Ca asks:
Thoughts on Matusz? Watching Hamels in the playoffs and world series makes me believe that that can be him. Has 4 quality pitches and mixes them great like Hamels. He doesn't have to just rely on his fastball like so many others..
 A: 

Will Lingo: Got a couple of chat questions along these lines, and it's an interesting comparison. Also got an e-mail about Jeremy Guthrie and why he isn't a top of the rotation starter (as mentioned in the top 10 overview) in spite of good numbers. Hamels is a good guy to think about. It's not just the stuff, but also the mentality, both his and his team's. When he was starting in the playoffs, the Phillies almost assumed they were going to win those games. That's an ace, and while I don't think Matusz (or Tillman or Arrieta) are necessarily going to be that, all three at least have that possibility.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
If the Orioles are still 3+ years away from contending, would it be worth trading Nick Markakis considering the package they recieved for Eric Bedard?
 A: 

Will Lingo: I don't think they're necessarily three-plus seasons from contending; that's a long time in baseball. And at some point you have to put some cornerstones in place, and I think Markakis can be one of those pieces. A piece that makes more sense to me would be Brian Roberts, who's only under contract for one more year, a year we *can* be pretty certain the Orioles aren't going to be the playoffs. Of course, the next step is the hard one: getting Bill Bavasi another GM job.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
Does Pat Burrell seem like a fair comparison for Nolan Reimold?
 A: 

Will Lingo: I think Reimold is a much better athlete than Burrell, and his bat is not as much of a sure thing as Burrell's was. Interestingly, though, I did hear a Burrell comparison when discussing Brandon Snyder, just in the fact that Snyder's bat is pretty much his whole game at this point. The comp wasn't necessarily to say that Snyder would hit like Burrell, but just to make the point that if a team has to accept well-below-average defense, you'd better be able to rake.

 Q:  Bertram from Taiwan asks:
Will Erbe ever figure it out? An ERA over 4.00 in A ball is not exactly tearing it up. Do you expect him to develop the changeup or is his future in the bullpen?
 A: 

Will Lingo: He's still mighty young, and he did make progress this year, so I think you could build a case for him figuring it out. But if you put a gun to my head, I would guess that he'll eventually end up in the bullpen.

 Q:  John from Pensacola, FL asks:
The Orioles took a couple of interesting HS pitchers in Bobby Bundy and Jesse Beal. Where do you see them starting out next season?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Quite a few questions about the O's 2008 draft class, and those are two of the more interesting arms. Still too early to get a real good read on either of those guys. Bundy didn't get much work in the summer as he came back from a knee injury, but he's an eighth-round pick whom the Orioles considered a top three-round talent, and they paid him like it, giving him $600,000. His fastball touches 94 mph. Beal is a high school kid who fell to the 14th round because of signability and a commitment to Maryland. He's 6-foot-7 and earned a Chris Volstad comp, except a little more physical. He's up to 92 now but obviously has plenty of room for projection. I think where they start will depend on spring training. Wouldn't be bad for them to stay in extended spring and open in the NYP.

 Q:  Glenn from Ellicott City asks:
It was disappointing to see Luis Hernandez listed as the starting SS in your 2011 projected lineup. Is there any hope that Miclat can progress rapidly through the system and spare us that horror? What is Miclat's upside? Brian Roberts light?
 A: 

Will Lingo: As another Luis Hernandez lament (which I'm not posting) mentioned, the future lineups are not an exact science. Some say Miclat is already the best defensive infielder in the organization, so the defense should be there. He has changed his approach at the plate to change his load, and that apparently made a big difference, but he's still a long way away. With Hernandez, at least you know what you're getting. But no, I don't think he's really the shortstop of the future. The bad news is that I don't really see a bona fide shorstop between Hernandez and Miclat; Blake Davis feels more like a utility guy.

 Q:  Craig from Canada asks:
Tony Butler came over in the Bedard trade but has been fairly inconsistent even when healthy. Is he still a legit prospect and can he stay healthy long enough to move up in the system?
 A: 

Will Lingo: He feels more like a depth player who could eventually contribute in the bullpen than a frontline prospect to me.

 Q:  alexei from st jay, vt asks:
Did Zach Britton get consideration for the top ten and what are his strengths and weaknesses? Also, where there any others that were close?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Britton is probably No. 11 on the O's list. Most of the other guys who are in this neighborhood have already been discussed, like Hernandez, Avery, Hoes, Spoone—actually, we haven't discussed Berken or Bergesen, who are also in this group. As for Britton, he usually pitches in the 88-90 mph range and touches 91, and he has taken a leap by learning a slider in instructional league a year ago. He still needs to get stronger and could add velocity as he matures.

 Q:  Nick from Old Greenwich, CT asks:
When it is all said and done who will be the better pitcher, Matusz, Tillman or Patton?
 A: 

Will Lingo: OK, time to switch to full lightning round mode: I would actually pick Arrieta personally (not even one of your choices, but I'm assuming you're asking which O's pitching prospect works out best), but the consensus choice would be Tillman.

 Q:  Peter from NYC asks:
Shoud we chalk Costanzo's year up to a poor ballpark in Norfolk or just a poor year? Does he have any chance of sticking in the majors as 1B/3B/Dh type?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Didn't hear much of anybody excited about Costanzo, so he's going to have to hit his way back into the picture.

 Q:  Pete from Downers Grove Ill asks:
Could we get your thoughts on Ryan Adams (2B)? He didn't make your Top 30 last year, but put up respectable numbers this season.
 A: 

Will Lingo: Nice player but probably no more than a utility player at best. Good runner, strong defense.

 Q:  Eddie C from Acworth, GA asks:
Will, Did Lou Montanez receive and consideration after his fantastic year? Did he just suddenly put together his tools this year, or what happened? Thanks!!!!
 A: 

Will Lingo: He'll certainly be on the list somewhere. Hard to know exactly where to put him because of his age, but he could legitimately be an extra major league outfielder. To be a regular he would have to get back in the infield, and that doesn't seem likely.

 Q:  Greg from Baltimore asks:
What's the forecast for Bill Rowell & Brandon Snyder? Can they be star corner infielders? Solid corner infielders? What positions do you see them manning? Can either handle 3rd? Thanks.
 A: 

Will Lingo: I think they'll both be big league hitters. To be stars they're going to have to work harder, particularly on defense. Rowell somehow has not equaled the sum of his parts so far. I think he'll eventually end up in the outfield. Not sure where to put Snyder. He could end up in the outfield as well. I think either could theoretically play third, though there is no evidence to support such a claim at this point.

 Q:  James from North East, MD asks:
Why Mikolio at #10? Why him above above pitchers like Spoone, Britton, and Hernandez, and above positional players like LJ Hoes, Xavier Avery, and Henson?
 A: 

Will Lingo: In short because he could end up being a dynamic back of the bullpen guy. The other pitchers in the running are mostly lower-ceiling guys or guys like Spoone with major questions (in his case a shoulder injury). The bats you mention are all too far away to project what they'll be with any certainty.

 Q:  Nick from NY asks:
Overall, the system looks fairly impressive at the top (the top 4 guys should all be top 100 prospects) but kind of falls off a cliff after that with guys that you need to dream on a bit. Would that be a fair summary of the system? Thank you.
 A: 

Will Lingo: I wouldn't quite say it falls of a cliff, but there is a drop in quality after the top 4. In part that's because the top 4 are so good, though.

 Q:  Greg from LA asks:
I know Wieters has solid defense behind the plate and such, but could his path to the pros be aided by him possibly playing 1st some next year? or would they be more likely to promote someone else or move Hernandez to first?
 A: 

Will Lingo: When the Orioles think he's ready, he'll go behind the plate and stay there for a very long time. What's ahead of him will not be a major consideration.

 Q:  Jacob from Bethesda asks:
Can you tell me a little bit about Tyler Henson? Does he profile as a possible every day ss or more of a utility guy or too early to tell?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Henson is a great athlete who's probably not suited to third base. There's some thought of moving him back to shortstop, or maybe even center field, but his bat has more value if he stays in the infield. He also worked at second base in instructional league.

 Q:  Robert from Glen Burnie Maryland asks:
Matt Angle is a guy that intrest me. After a rough start last year he came on strong. Scouting reports already have him playing a major league quality center field. Do you think he can hit enough to make his way to the big leagues?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Angle is a little guy who's a plus runner and knows how to play. He's a smart hitter, good bunter and good basestealer, and a good center fielder as well. The question will be if he's good enough to be a big league center fielder, or will produce enough with the bat if he moves over to left.

Will Lingo: Well, that's it for today. Honored to kick things off and will see you again for the Diamondbacks in many weeks, when we're about to wrap things up. In the meantime, I believe we have Red Sox up next on Friday. Jim Callis will see you then.