Baltimore Orioles Top 10 Prospects With Scouting Reports

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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, 2011.

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Replacing their manager got all the attention, but the Orioles are making modifications throughout the organization to try to reverse a 13-year run of losing seasons since their last playoff appearance in 1997.

Dumping Dave Trembley became an obvious move after Baltimore got off to a 15-39 start in 2010, and interim replacement Juan Samuel was little better at 17-34. Hiring Buck Showalter at the end of July brought the team instant credibility, however, and he won more games in his two months at the helm, 34, than Trembley and Samuel had in four.

Showalter also got credit for bringing a more professional approach, discipline and confidence to the major league club, and the Orioles' young players responded to the new outlook. Rookie lefthander Brian Matusz, for example, went 3-11, 5.46 before Showalter was hired, then went 7-1, 2.18 the rest of the way.

The changes went deeper than just the manager. Baltimore reassigned farm director David Stockstill at the end of spring training, essentially having him switch jobs with his brother John, who had been director of international scouting. John Stockstill wants to oversee a return to The Oriole Way, the uniform instruction of fundamentals at every level of the system. That philosophy became the foundation of the organization in the 1950s and carried the team through the rest of the century.

The Orioles will have fewer roving minor league instructors, choosing instead to have an extra coach at each level in hopes of bringing greater consistency to the daily instruction players receive. Stockstill himself will focus more directly on personnel than farm directors traditionally do, working with players in the majors as well as the minors in hopes that young big leaguers will continue to develop rather than stagnate.

To that end, Baltimore also will have longtime batting coach Terry Crowley move into a new system-wide hitting evaluation job, working with both major and minor leaguers. Showalter will hire a new hitting coach, and the rest of the major league and minor league staffs could see significant changes as the hiring process continues through the offseason.

The Orioles dropped their longtime affiliation with Bluefield after sending players there for 53 seasons. The organization decided that its resources were spread too thin with seven affiliations and opted to go with one Rookie-level club in the Gulf Coast League instead.

The GCL team will play in new digs in 2011, as a $33 million renovation project nears completion in Sarasota, Fla. Baltimore moved its big league spring-training operation back to Sarasota in 2010, putting their major and minor league complexes in the same city for the first time since 1995. Both facilities are getting complete makeovers, and the team has a 30-year lease to stay in Sarasota for the foreseeable future.

Because of the renovations, the team could not hold a traditional instructional league program in the fall, so it brought 15 of its top position players to Camden Yards for 10 days of focused instruction and other programs, such as dealing with the media and learning Orioles history.

Still, the Orioles face an uphill battle to compete in the American League East. The farm system has thinned out despite the addition of Machado, with numerous graduations in the last couple of seasons as well as an inordinate number of injuries to top prospects in 2010.

1.  Manny Machado, ss   Born: July 6, 1992B-T: R-RHt: 6-3Wt: 185
 Drafted: HS—Hialeah, Fla., 2010 (1st round).Signed by: John Martin
Manny MachadoBackground: The Orioles have leaned toward pitching at the top of recent drafts and hadn't selected a shortstop in the first round since taking Rich Dauer out of Southern California in 1974, but Machado's talent was too much to pass up. The scouting consensus was that the top three players in the 2010 draft—Bryce Harper, Jameson Taillon and Machado—were a cut above everyone else, so the Orioles were happy to grab their shortstop of the future with the No. 3 overall choice after the Nationals picked Harper and the Pirates selected Taillon. Machado laid the groundwork for going near the top of the draft with his standout showcase performances in 2009, with the highlight coming when he batted .367 to help the U.S. 18-and-under team win the Pan American Junior Championship. He earned BA High School All-America honors as a senior, batting .639 with 12 homers and 17 steals for Brito Private High (Hialeah, Fla.). Machado gave up a scholarship from Florida International to sign at the Aug. 16 deadline, netting a $5.25 million bonus that's the sixth-highest ever for a high schooler and the second-highest in franchise history. The Orioles let him get his feet wet with brief assignments in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and at short-season Aberdeen, then brought him to their abbreviated instructional camp in Baltimore in September.

Scouting Report: The Orioles have a gaping hole at shortstop, and Machado has the legitimate five-tool ability to fill it. He has a good swing and bat speed. He makes consistent hard contact—he struck out just three times in 36 pro at-bats—and repeatedly puts the barrel on the ball. The ball already carries well off his bat, and has the room to add muscle to his wiry 6-foot-3 frame. Baltimore believes he can become a .300 hitter with 20 homers a season as he matures. Machado also has the arm, build and strength to be a major league shortstop. He shows advanced defensive skills, with solid range, soft hands and a plus arm. His weakest tool is his speed, but even that rates as fringe average. In addition to his physical ability, Machado has made a quick impression with his makeup, showing a great work ethic and receptiveness to instruction. When working on nuances of shortstop with Orioles instructor Mike Bordick in the fall, such as the footwork on his feeds from shortstop on the double play, he quickly made adjustments and never reverted to his previous habits. He would execute the new skill within two or three ground balls.

The Future: Machado has all the tools and just needs to play. Because of his build, Dominican bloodlines and hype as a high school shortstop coming out of south Florida, he earns obvious Alex Rodriguez comparisons. He's not as physically mature as Rodriguez was when he came into pro ball, and his ceiling isn't as lofty, but Machado still has the look of a perennial all-star. He'll open his first full season at low Class A Delmarva, and should move quickly through the system if he hits as expected. He could be ready for Baltimore at some point in 2013.
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
GCL Orioles (R) .143 .143 .571 7 1 1 0 0 1 2 0 1 0
Aberdeen (SS) .345 .406 .448 29 2 10 1 1 0 3 3 2 0
2.  Zach Britton, lhp   Born: Dec. 22, 1987B-T: L-LHt: 6-3Wt: 195
 Drafted: HS—Weatherford, Texas, 2006 (3rd round)Signed by: Jim Richardson
Zach BrittonBackground: Britton has boosted his stock every year since getting drafted in 2006 and now ranks as one of the best pitching prospects in the minors. In 2010, he aced his Double-A debut, pitched in the Futures Game and finished strong in Triple-A. He led Orioles farmhands in ERA (2.70) while ranking second in wins (10) and strikeouts (124).

Scouting Report: Britton has the best sinker in the minor leagues and generated a 2.8 groundout/airout ratio last season. Showing more than just good action, his fastball sits in the low 90s and peaks at 94 mph. His slider is also a plus pitch, though at times throws it too hard while trying to get more break out of it. His changeup has developed to the point where he's willing to throw it behind in the count and use it to get quick outs rather than strikeouts. Britton showed his best stuff more consistently in 2010. He does a good job of spotting all of his pitches within the strike zone.

The Future: The Orioles liked how Britton refined his arsenal and came after hitters with a plan rather than just overpowering them with his sinker. He'll probably return to Triple-A Norfolk at the start out of 2011, but it's not out of question that he could pitch his way into the big league rotation.
2010 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Bowie (AA) 7 3 2.48 15 14 0 0 87 76 4 28 68 .231
Norfolk (AAA) 3 4 2.98 12 12 0 0 66 63 3 23 56 .245
3.  Xavier Avery, of   Born: Jan. 1, 1990B-T: L-LHt: 6-0Wt: 188
 Drafted: HS—Ellenwood, Ga., 2008 (2nd round)Signed by: Dave Jennings
Xavier AveryBackground: The Orioles knew Avery was a development project when they signed him away from a Georgia football scholarship for $900,000 in 2008. He started to translate his tools into performance in 2010, reaching Double-A as a 20-year-old.

Scouting Report: A premium athlete, Avery stands out most with his well above-average speed. It already translates into plus defense in center field even though he's polishing his routes and instincts. He's learning the nuances of basestealing as well, and went 10-for-10 stealing bases at Double-A Bowie. Avery batted leadoff all season and knows his game is to put the ball in play and put pressure on the defense. He showed better plate discipline and pitch recognition in 2010. He still struggles against breaking stuff, however, and particularly against lefhanders, batting .193 against them. He's strong enough to sting the ball on occasion but will never be a power hitter. His arm has improved significantly, though it still rates as fringe-average. He still gets by on his pure tools more often than not, but he has a thirst for instruction and is making up his deficiencies in baseball polish.

The Future: Avery has made significant progress but still has refinements to make to become a consistent hitter. He'll return to Double-A to open 2011.
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Frederick (Hi A) .280 .349 .389 447 73 125 25 6 4 48 42 96 28
Bowie (AA) .234 .288 .374 107 10 25 6 0 3 18 7 34 10
4.  L.J. Hoes, 2b   Born: March 5, 1990B-T: R-RHt: 6-1Wt: 190
 Drafted: HS—Washington D.C., 2008 (3rd round)Signed by: Dean Albany
L.J. HoesBackground: Hoes was in the midst of a breakout season at high Class A Frederick, batting .310/.435/.416 in mid-May, when he developed a case of mononucleosis that knocked him out for more than a month. He didn't hit with the same authority when he returned to action at the end of June, as the mono seemed to sap his strength for the rest of the season.

Scouting Report: With great balance at the plate and good command of the strike zone, Hoes is going to hit. He has quick hands and uses the middle of the field, projecting as a .300 hitter with gap power and average speed. A pitcher and outfielder in high school, he's still working on the nuances of playing second base. He has average actions and defensive tools, and he improved his fielding percentage from .939 in 2009 to .967 last season. Third base and left field are other possibilities, though his bat wouldn't profile nearly as well there.

The Future: The Orioles are pleased with Hoes' progress and think he could be poised to consider his breakout in 2011. He'll probably spend the season in Double-A after finishing 2010 there.
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Frederick (Hi A) .278 .375 .368 353 52 98 19 2 3 44 53 70 10
Aberdeen (SS) .464 .531 .821 28 8 13 5 1 1 5 2 1 1
Bowie (AA) .222 .222 .222 9 1 2 0 0 0 1 0 1 0
5.  Dan Klein, rhp   Born: July 27, 1988B-T: R-RHt: 6-3Wt: 190
 Drafted: UCLA, 2010 (3rd round)Signed by: Mark Ralston
Dan KleinBackground: The Orioles took Klein, who was also a standout quarterback in high school in southern California, in the 24th round of the 2007 draft. He also had football scholarship options, but he opted to attend UCLA to play baseball instead. He missed the 2009 season after shoulder surgery but returned to be the closer for the Bruins' College World Series runners-up last spring. He signed for a slightly over-slot $499,900 as a third-round pick.

Scouting Report: Though Klein worked as a closer at UCLA and in his pro debut, Baltimore likes his big, strong frame and ability to throw four pitches for strikes, so they will try to develop him as a starter. He isn't overpowering but has an easy delivery and consistently throws his fastball at 91-93 mph with good life. His changeup is his second-best pitch, and it and his curveball already rate as the best in the system. He also uses a slider as another breaking pitch option. Klein throws strikes and commands his pitches well within the strike zone.

The Future: Because of Klein's limited college workload, the Orioles will use him carefully in 2011. He's advanced enough to handle a jump to high Class A. His ceiling is as a No. 3 starter, and it also could be tempting to move him quickly to the big leagues as a set-up man.
2010 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Aberdeen (SS) 1 0 0.00 5 0 0 1 6 1 0 1 10 .048
6.  Wynn Pelzer, rhp   Born: June 23, 1986B-T: R-RHt: 6-1Wt: 205
 Drafted: South Carolina, 2007 (9th round)Signed by: Pete DeYoung (Padres)
Wynn PelzerBackground: Miguel Tejada certainly didn't figure into the Orioles' future, and they got a solid return for him at the trade deadline by sending him to the Padres for Pelzer. Pelzer had spent his pro career as a starter until San Diego moved him to the bullpen two weeks before the deal. He continued in that role at Bowie.

Scouting Report: Pelzer offers a potent fastball/slider combination, but he never dominated as a starter because he couldn't find a consistent third pitch and his delivery didn't allow him to establish reliable command. He throws both two-seam and four-seam fastballs, sitting at 91-94 mph and touching 97 with good life. His slider is at least major league average and shows flashes of becoming a true plus pitch. He has used both a changeup and splitter but never has embraced either. His delivery can get out of sync, causing him to miss up in the strike zone.

The Future: The Orioles are still open to trying Pelzer as a starter, but focusing on his two best pitches will give him the opportunity to pitch at the back of a bullpen. While his landing spot out of spring training will depend on his performance as well as his role, he should reach Triple-A at some point during 2011.
2010 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
San Antonio (AA) 6 9 4.20 22 18 0 0 94 102 9 56 83 .277
Bowie (AA) 1 0 4.50 10 1 0 0 20 24 2 7 20 .296
7.  Mychal Givens, ss   Born: May 13, 1990B-T: R-RHt: 6-1Wt: 190
 Drafted: HS—Tampa, 2009 (2nd round)Signed by: John Martin
Mychal GivensBackground: Givens signed too late to play in his first summer, so he stayed in extended spring training before reporting to Delmarva at the end of May. Just seven games into his season, he ruptured a tendon in his left thumb sliding into first base, essentially turning 2010 into a lost year.

Scouting Report: Givens has a quiet approach at the plate, and his bat takes a short path to the ball and generates sharp contact. He should offer gap power, with the ability to hit 15 homers annually, though he'll need a lot of at-bats to refine his swing. He has middle-infield skills with solid-average range, a plus arm and good hands. Some clubs liked him more as a pitcher after clocking him up to 97 mph in high school. He has solid speed but won't be a big basestealing threat.

The Future: Givens' injury cost him a year of development and created a jumble in the organzation's middle-infield depth chart. The Orioles want Manny Machado to play shortstop at Delmarva, but it may be a reach to send Givens to Frederick given his limited experience. He could end up playing second base across from Machado.
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Delmarva (Lo A) .222 .444 .222 18 2 4 0 0 0 4 5 4 1
GCL Orioles (R) .207 .207 .276 29 2 6 2 0 0 2 0 4 0
Aberdeen (SS) .364 .488 .727 33 8 12 3 0 3 5 6 2 2
Frederick (Hi A) .500 .600 .500 4 2 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
8.  Ryan Adams, 2b/3b   Born: April 21, 1987B-T: R-RHt: 6-0Wt: 195
 Drafted: HS—New Orleans, 2006 (2nd round)Signed by: Mike Tullier
Ryan AdamsBackground: Adams has had an up-and-down ride through the organization, balancing his offensive potential with injuries and questions about his approach. He hit a low point in 2009, missing two months with a groin injury and then getting suspended for disciplinary reasons for the final two weeks. He turned things around in 2010, making the Eastern League all-star team and leading the circuit in hits (158), doubles (43) and extra-base hits (58).

Scouting Report: Adams squares the ball up more consistently than any other hitter in the system, but he still hasn't found a position where he's serviceable. While he doesn't have great bat speed, he has a compact swing and gap power. Though he has improved his flexibility after initially bulking up too much when he entered pro ball, he's still a below-average runner. He has a quick first step and decent defensive tools, but he's erratic at both second and third base. Some club officials think the faster action at the hot corner keeps him more focused.

The Future: The Orioles have Brian Roberts at second base in the majors and a number of middle-infield prospects, so Adams has a better shot eventually cracking their lineup at third base, where Josh Bell struggled in his first taste of the big leagues. Adams will go to spring training looking to win a job in Triple-A.
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Bowie (AA) .298 .365 .464 530 81 158 43 0 15 68 47 121 2
9.  Ryan Berry, rhp   Born: Aug. 3, 1988B-T: R-RHt: 6-1Wt: 195
 Drafted: Rice, 2009 (9th round)Signed by: Rich Morales
Ryan BerryBackground: Berry was pitching himself into first-round consideration for the 2009 draft before straining his shoulder that spring at Rice. He fell to the ninth round and signed late in the summer for $417,600, though he didn't see his first pro action until 2010. He looked strong all season, quickly reaching high Class A, and the Orioles put him in the bullpen in late July to keep his innings down.

Scouting Report: Berry works quickly and throws strikes, coming after hitters with four pitches. His fastball, which usually ranges from 87-90 mph, plays above its below-average velocity because it has good life. His best pitch is a knuckle-curve with 12-to-6 break, and he also throws a more slurvy breaking ball. His changeup should be an average pitch. Berry gets in trouble when his fastball loses its sink. Because he lacks a putaway pitch, he has to be sharp with his command. His herky-jerky deliver gives him deception without detracting from his ability to find the strike zone.

The Future: Berry handled Class A hitters with ease, but he'll have to prove himself at every level because he lacks overpowering stuff. He profiles as a back-of-the-rotation option who could be a useful bullpen arm if starting doesn't work out. He'll move up to Double-A to open 2011.
2010 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Delmarva (Lo A) 0 3 3.50 8 8 0 0 46 49 4 11 43 .268
Frederick (Hi A) 2 2 3.04 17 12 0 2 71 57 5 25 63 .218
10.  Jonathan Schoop, ss   Born: Oct. 6, 1991B-T: R-RHt: 6-2Wt: 187
 Signed: Curacao, 2008Signed by: Ernst Meyer
Jonathan SchoopBackground: After Schoop made his pro debut in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League in 2009, he came Stateside and worked with Gulf Coast League hitting coach in extended spring training to refine his swing and approach. Schoop earned a quick promotion from the GCL to Bluefield, where he hit the last homer in Bluefield Orioles history.

Scouting Report: Schoop was the most improved player in the system in 2010. He improved his bat speed and showed an ability to hit for average and spray the ball around the field, though he still has holes and is seeking his ideal swing mechanics. His gangly frame has stated to fill out, and he could develop average home run power as he gets stronger. Schoop has good defensive instincts at shortstop, with agility, soft hands and a strong arm. His speed also got a boost as he improved his body control, though he'll be just an average runner.

The Future: He's ready for full season ball, though he may not have a spot to play at Delmarva if the Orioles send Manny Machado and Mychal Givens there. Schoop is built similarly to Machado but projects to be bigger and stronger, which could mean a move to third base or the outfield.
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
GCL Orioles (R) .250 .329 .467 60 11 15 4 0 3 16 7 7 0
Bluefield (R) .316 .372 .459 133 16 42 11 1 2 16 12 14 1
Frederick (Hi A) .238 .273 .381 21 5 5 3 0 0 3 1 4 0

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