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.

Will Lingo: Welcome to another BA prospect chat. It has been snowing here in North Carolina today and we're wrapping up the Prospect Handbook, so things are crazy here. But we'll try to keep things together long enough to talk O's prospects for a little while. So let's go...

    John (Acworth,GA): What did scouts think of Pedro Florimon? Were you surprised the O's put him on their 40 man roster?

Will Lingo: Florimon may rank as the most improved player in the Orioles system. He has outstanding defensive tools and started to look better at the plate last season as well. He hit .310 in the first two months of the season and .312 in August, but fell back into bad habits in June and July to drag his numbers down. With his tools and him showing signs of figuring it out, it makes sense for him to get added to the 40-man. If he puts together another strong season he could start figuring into the big league picture.

    Tim (MD): How close was Matt Angle to breaking the top ten? Where do you see his long term potential?

Will Lingo: I like Angle in the 11-30 range but don't see him as a top 10 guy because I just don't know how much offense he's going to produce. His defense is good enough to play in the big leagues now, but for me he's going to be a reserve who will offer speed and defensive versatility.

    Tom (San Diego): Why is Brad Bergeson the forgotten pitcher? Before he got hit in the leg he was making a case for rookie of the year. Why does BA seem to go with unproven minor leaguers instead of guys that have shown success at the MLB level and still very young

Will Lingo: Because with 123 major league innings he's no longer eligible for our prospect lists. Same goes for Jason Berken, David Hernandez and Chris Tillman. All four players were among our Orioles top 18 last year.

    Steve (Chicago): Hey Will, It looks like Luis Lebron and Wilfrido Perez have a shot at making the team this year. What do you know about these two???

Will Lingo: Perez to me is just going to be a situational lefty. He missed a lot of time last season because he had bone chips removed from his elbow. Lebron just missed the top 10 after returning from an injury in 2008 and putting up great results in 2009. With his plus fastball and slider, he has the stuff to work at the back of a big league bullpen if he can stay healthy and throw strikes. His .137 opponent average ranked second among all minor league relievers last year, and his 13.6 strikeouts per nine innings ranked fifth.

    Avon (Baltimore): With Matt Wieters entrenched in Baltimore for the future, what does the future hold for Caleb Joseph? A future backup C? Trade bait? Position switch?

Will Lingo: It's too early to worry about those kinds of questions. I think Joseph profiles as a major league regular for sure—or else I wouldn't have ranked him in the top 10—but he has a lot of development time ahead before the Orioles have to worry about how to use him and Wieters.

    Jon (Peoria): Hi Will: What can be made of the big difference between Troy Patton's season at Bowie and Norfolk? What is his profile? Also, where does Tim Bascom rank among O's prospects?

Will Lingo: People thought Patton wore down a bit in his first season back from his shoulder injury, and his command also wasn't sharp enough to get Triple-A hitters out at Norfolk. He still profiles as a back of the rotation starter as long as he gets his command completely back because he has never been a big velo guy. Bascom is more of a depth pitcher, particularly in a system with as many arms as the Orioles have now.

    Nick (Baltimore): If Ryan Berry breaks the Rice injury curse, do you expect him to make next years list? What can we expect from a healthy Ryan Berry or hope for in the future? Thanks!

Will Lingo: Aside from the injury questions, which as you show in your question will always come up with Rice pitchers, Berry's herky-jerky delivery also concerns some people. He'll work as a starter in 2010, but I think he'll end up as more of a middle reliever.

    Ryan H. (Abingdon, MD): With the Orioles graduating so much talent to the big leagues in 2009, how far did they slide in the 2010 organizational rankings? If they aren't finished yet, can you give us a ballpark?

Will Lingo: We'll get to work on those rankings next week, but I would guess that the Orioles would rate toward the high end of the middle of the pack. There are always five to eight systems that stand out as particularly strong and a similar number that are obviously weak, and beyond that that the systems in the middle group are very close. The Orioles have strong pitching talent and a good depth of arms, but they're a little short of position players.

    amy (boston): Ladies first! How certain are you that Erbe will move to the 'pen? Does he have closer stuff for sure or will he most likely top off as a set up guy?

Will Lingo: Sorry you weren't first Amy, but glad to get to your question. I don't think it's certain that Erbe will move to the pen, and the Orioles won't make that move until they have to, but if you ask me my gut feel then I do think he will end up as a reliever. I don't think we can ever say with certainty that a guy will be a closer until we see him pitch in the late innings in the big leagues, but he as the pure stuff that would allow him to fill that role. Obviously it would be safer to just project him as a set-up guy.

    Teddy (Georgia): I was wondering what your thoughts are on Xavier Avery? Do you see him in High A this season? I understand he is a raw ahtlete and I wonder if he can develop those athletic skills he has. What are your thoughts?

Will Lingo: I like Xavier Avery a lot, but he just hasn't performed well enough to justify a spot in the top 10 yet. The fact that he held his own in low A in his first full season was a good sign, but he still needs to refine his hitting to justify the Carl Crawford and Kenny Lofton comparisons he gets. You'll find him in the 10-15 range in the Prospect Handbook.

    John (Acworth,GA): Let me take a guess at numbers 11-15:Brandon Waring, L. J. Hoes, Luis Lebron, Jesse Beal and Xavier Avery. How close did I come?

Will Lingo: Fun game, John! You got just two guys right, and you could probably figure out from previous answers that those players are Lebron and Avery. Waring and Hoes are down the list a little bit more, and Beal further back still. His velocity ranged from 84-92 last year and in an organization with so much pitching it was easy to find guys to put ahead of him. Which is a great sign for the Orioles, by the way, because Beal is definitely not a stiff.

    Kevin (DC): What does a first year like Greg Miclat had for Delmarva (.228 with 25 errors) mean for a college level 5th round pick like him? Will he be automatically promoted to the next level or will he have to repeat Delmarva?

Will Lingo: I think Orioles officials know Miclat can play much better than he did last season, and he really didn't swing the bat well in his first full season. But he's one of the smartest players in the organization and has a chance to be a big leaguer just because of his intangibles. He's more of a utility player than a regular. I would expect the Orioles to advance him to Frederick in spite of his poor performance last year, but it may depend on how he looks in spring training.

    MJ (Valpo): So, has Bill(y) Rowell finally bottomed-out within the O's organization? How disappointed is the front office with their selection of him? And is there any glimpse of hope for him to turn things around, and get back to his once prominent prospect status?

Will Lingo: A lot of Billy Rowell questions, as you might expect given the disappointing performances he's given since he was the ninth overall pick in 2006. He slides way down the Orioles list this year after another uninspiring season and a move to the outfield. I think it's clear that Rowell, for whatever reason, just isn't as good as scouts thought when he was coming out of high school. If you're looking for glimmers of hope, it would be that he has finally struggled so much that he has become more receptive to taking instruction and making adjustments offensively. Whether that will result in improved performance, we'll have to see. I would guess the Orioles will move him up to Double-A in 2010 just to give him a change of scenery from Frederick.

    Jed (Bmore): I see that you guys projected Tillman to be the No. 1 guy in 2013...from what I saw last year, I feel like Matusz will be the No. 1 guy...granted, I'm not a scout so why do you guys think Tillman will be better than Matusz? Or was it just a coin flip because they are both very good?

Will Lingo: I think it is a very close call, but Tillman has done more at a younger age and his stuff is just a shade better. Matusz's tremendous feel for pitching could eventually move him ahead of Tillman, though. Nice problem to have.

    @jpstarkey (Manchester, CT): How close was Brandon Waring to making the top 10, and why didn't he? Lots of K's? Age for his level?

Will Lingo: Waring is in the 11-20 range, and he definitely needs to improve his pitch selection and understand game situations and counts better to avoid being an all-or-nothing hitter. I also don't think he can play third base in the big leagues. If he can't handle advanced pitching better, he'll end up as a power bat off the bench.

    LOREN NODOLF (Fillmore,CA): Who is coming up in the system to handle ss/2b in the future?

Will Lingo: At shortstop I think Givens could be the long-term answer, while Pedro Florimon could help sooner if he puts together a strong year in Double-A. L.J. Hoes is the top second-base prospect in the organization, but he's still a few years away and needs a lot of repetitions on both offense and defense to refine his package. A second baseman who could emerge in 2010 if he stays healthy is Ryan Adams.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Are the Orioles open to letting Givens pitch, or are those days over?

Will Lingo: That's certainly not part of the plan, though it's always in his back pocket if he doesn't pan out as a position player.

    hoosiers (Hangout North): Can you speak to the overall depth in the system? BA has hinted the system lacks depth for a few years, but after graduating a lot of people last year, there seem to be nuggets of talent going 25+ deep.

Will Lingo: Having done this list for a while now, I would say the depth is good, particularly with the pitching. Writing up the players at the back of the top 30 list has sometimes been painful in past years, but there were no retreads this year and probably eight to 10 guys who didn't make the top 30 who you could have put in there with no problem.

    jacob (florida): where will josh bell rank in the 2010 top 100?

Will Lingo: That's a good question, and even harder to figure out than guessing where the Orioles will finish in our org rankings until we actually start putting together the lists. I would guess in the 25-50 range.

    Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): Two players who made absolute U turns in their careers were Pedro Florimon and Rob Widlansky. At Delmarva they were sort of anemic in 2008. Then in 2009 they go to Frederick and one leads the league in batting and the other becomes an all star shortstop. Any thouhgts on these super turn arounds? Who gets to the majors first?

Will Lingo: Florimon was addressed earlier, but to me Widlansky is still a guy who will probably top out at Triple-A. He has the bat to stick around for a long time, though.

    Mark (NC): Do you Cole McCurry as a prospect or organizational guy after a solid year at Delmarva which included 13 k's in a seven inning game (first game of doubleheader) ?

Will Lingo: More of an organizational guy, crafty lefthander with below-average stuff, a profile that often succeeds against lower-level hitters but runs into a brick wall at the higher levels. He's in the 86-88 mph range with a curveball and changeup.

    Ryan H. (Abingdon, MD): I think the person who asked about Bergesen was referring to the fact that he wasn't included in the 2013 projected rotation. I know all those guys have higher ceilings than Bergesen. The only question I would have towards that is how quickly do you see Hobgood moving? I certainly wouldn't have any problems if the 2013 season found Bergesen in the back of the rotation with Hobgood in Triple-A.

Will Lingo: Ah, you're probably right. Sorry about that. Yes, as we talk about often during these chats, the future lineups can be problematic. Barring any setbacks in his development, I would think Hobgood would be in the big leagues by 2013, so that's why pitchers like Bergesen get pushed off the future rotation. But again, these would be great problems for the Orioles to have.

    Ryan H. (Abingdon, MD): Were would have slotted Steve Johnson in the O's rankings if he hadn't been selected in the Rule 5 draft? How do you think he'll do for the Giants?

Will Lingo: Johnson doesn't do that much for me and didn't generate a lot of buzz when putting together the Orioles list, so he probably would have been in the 21-30 range. It doesn't seem like he has a clear shot to a job with the Giants and sounds like they took him as an extra arm to look at in spring training as much as anything, so I wouldn't be surprised at all if he ends up back with the Orioles. I think he'll end up as a middle reliever.

    JAYPERS (IL): Will Cameron Coffey be worth the exorbitant price he ended up fetching, in your estimation? Did he make your 30?

Will Lingo: Jaypers also asked about the Orioles taking Hobgood in the first round, so I figured I would kill two birds with one stone. We were probably a little light on Hobgood in our predraft rankings, but I think the Orioles also liked him more than some other teams. What you can see later in their draft is that signing Hobgood for slot allowed them to spend money in other places, such as Coffey in the 22nd round. It's impossible to know yet if he was worth the money, since he has a short track record of throwing in the mid-90s and will be coming off Tommy John surgery. But he did make the top 30—the top 20, even—so you can get the full rundown there.

    Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): Oriole catching prospects: #1 Caleb Joseph #2 ___________ #3 ___________ Fill in the blanks. Dalles? Ohlman? Somebody else?

Will Lingo: I believe we have Joseph, then Ohlman, then Dalles on the ol' depth chart. But I have serious questions about Ohlman being able to stay behind the plate.

Will Lingo: Great questions, and I hate to run so quickly, but if I don't you won't get your Prospect Handbook on time. Thanks to everyone, happy holidays and tune in next week as we continue to work our way through the AL East.