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.
Will Lingo will chat about Orioles prospects with subscribers at 3 p.m. ET.
Welcome everyone. I'm proud to be kicking
off another great season of prospect goodness with the Orioles Top 10
list. We'll be chatting throughout the fall and winter as we give you
300 future big leaguers to enjoy, and of course it all builds to the
release of the Prospect Handbook in January, so feel free to go ahead
and reserve your copy today.
All right, so let's get right to it. For
today's listening, we're going with North Carolina's own Benji Hughes
and his genius work, "A Love Extreme." As you have to do with many top
prospects, I have accepted that Benji is probably never going to fully
deliver on his promise, but this album alone is a great contribution to
modern culture. I can't recommend it highly enough. And if Benji is in
your town, go see him, you are sure to be entertained. Now, how about an
Orioles question . . .
Tom T. (Houston): Does Billy Rowell hold any
interest as a prospect at this point, or is he more of an object lesson
or a scary story for misbehaving children?
I think we can probably consider this the
final time Billy Rowell's name will appear in an Orioles prospect chat.
His only interest comes in the fact that he still has an extremely
strong arm. Long, stiff swing and hasn't mastered A-ball in three years.
Morris (OH): Compare this year's BAL Top 10
with last year's - which would you rather take? Would you say they would
rank in the 25-30 range this year?
Interesting question. Lost Matusz, Bell and
Arrieta to major league graduation; Hobgood, Snyder, Erbe, Mickolio and
Joseph fell out for various reasons, so Britton and Givens are the only
repeaters. What really would have been nice is if Bell and Arrieta had
not lost their eligibility, and a couple of the other guys had performed
better, particularly Hobgood. Then you would have the makings of a very
solid Top 10. As it is, I don't think the Top 10 is terrible, but you
feel like everyone past the top two is ranked about four spots higher
than you would like. You're missing that level of guy between the
potential stars and the organization depth. Hard to figure out where to
rank organizations now when we're just starting to sort through all the
lists coming in, but I would guess the Orioles would be in the 20-25
range. Great top two, some depth, but not enough big league difference
Dan (Balt.): Is Machado a no-brainer to stick
at short? The write-up made him sound like a heck of an athlete, but
will the lack of speed eventually neccesitate a move to second or third?
Hard to say no-brainer at this point
because he has played so little professionally, but I think all signs
point to him being at least an average defensive shortstop. While he is
not a burner he should have plenty of range for the position. And as I
wrote in his scouting report, Machado has shown good aptitude for the
position and has picked up instruction very quickly.
Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): Looks
like Manny Machado, Mychal Givens, Jonathan Schoop, and Garabez Rosa are
all headed to Delmarva to play shortstop in 2011. If you are the O's
management what do you do to get the maximum development out of each of
Great point from Karl, and Orioles
officials did bring this up when I was talking to them. The organization
does have a lot of interesting players in the middle of the diamond,
and finding the right level for them as well as opportunities to play is
going to be an issue. Rosa you can move up to Frederick, even though he
didn't set the world on fire at Delmarva you could at least justify
moving him up to start with. The real problem is that Givens was hurt
and thus isn't ready to move up, but you really have to play Machado at
short in Delmarva if you want to get him moving like you expect him to.
Schoop, given his age and experience, wouldn't be hurt by going to
Aberdeen this year, after either extended spring or starting off with a
Class A club and then falling back. My guess is that you'll see Rosa at
Frederick, Machado at short and Givens at second in Delmarva, and Schoop
at Aberdeen, but that's just a guess. Something worth watching during
Darren (Vancouer): You have Mahoney listed as
the 1B in the 2014 line-up. Do you think he will hit for enough power
to be an everyday 1B in the majors, or is he slotted there because there
are no better in house options?
Honestly I expected more Joe Mahoney
questions after the great season he had, but I guess Orioles fans are a
realistic bunch. Mahoney is slotted there because there are no better
options. Tyler Townsend would be a guy you would have perhaps more hope
for, but he has been hurt so much that you really need to see him prove
himself over a full season before you buy in. Mahoney deserves tons of
credit for how far he has come as a prospect, but he is the kind of guy
who will have to prove himself every step along the way. Scouts just
don't think his swing will produce against major league pitching. Would
have been nice to see what he could do in Venezuela this winter, but he
hurt his wrist and had to come home, and then doctors discovered a knee
injury, so he's done for the offseason.
Dan (Balt.): Everyone hated the Hobgood selection when it happened. Given that he missed the top 10, does it look even worse now?
While I was surprised by the lack of
Mahoney questions, we are getting plenty of Hobgood questions. I would
say it's still too early to evaluate the Hobgood pick, but the early
returns are not good. It's hard to imagine a premium pick having a worse
first full season. After talking to a lot of people, here's how it
seems to have happened: Hobgood came to spring training out of shape,
then had some shoulder issues and was shut down in the middle of the
season as a precaution—essentially I believe because the Orioles didn't
want him to really hurt himself. He did log 94 innings so there are no
real issues with health. The problem is that his stuff was off, mostly
in the high 80s with a very inconsistent curveball. This answer is
already getting long, so I'll continue it with another Hobgood question.
Candice (Washington State): Is Matt Hobgood a bust?
Not hard to find another Hobgood question.
So basically the pitcher people saw this season is not the guy the
Orioles saw when he was in high school. And while the Orioles did like
him more than the consensus view then, there were plenty of scouts who
liked him when they saw him throw 90-94 mph with "electric stuff," as
our predraft scouting report said. That just wasn't there this year. One
scout who saw him this year said he had a "XXL body", which is fine for
sportswriters but not so much pitching prospects. The hope: He is
working on his conditioning this offseason and the Orioles are keeping
closer tabs on him, and they think it's a nutrition issue, not anything
with bad makeup or work ethic. So I can see Hobgood coming to spring
training after learning some hard lessons and having a bounceback year. I
just didn't have enough evidence from this season to rank him in the
JAYPERS (IL): Are the O's open to putting Givens on the mound if it doesn't work out for him in the infield?
I don't see that happening unless it's a
desperation thing, and we're nowhere close to that point. He shows
enough potential particularly with the bat that the infield is where
he's going to have the most value.
Pat Kenney (North Tonawanda, NY): Is Brandon Snyder still considered a MLB propsect?
Still a prospect but he has definitely
stalled. Had back issues this year and didn't really show anything in
his limited ABs during his September callup. His defense has improved at
first and he still fits the righthanded-hitting Sean Casey profile, but
he needs to establish offensive consistency. Needs to get it going at
Norfolk in '11 to keep himself in the picture.
Mudcatsfan (Raleigh, NC): What impact will Buck
Showalter have on Baltimore's drafting and player development, if any? I
remember he was much more than just a hands-on mgr in the past, and i
wonder if he will have that kind of influence in Baltimore.
I don't think Showalter necessarily will be
hands-on in dealing with the farm system, but the organization in
general seems to be going with a more "whole system" approach, rather
than just having guys graduate from the minor leagues and then getting
thrown into the major league pool to sink or swim. I think they are
making more of an effort to have guys earn their way to the big leagues
and to continue to improve when they get there. Farm director John
Stockstill, as noted in the overview, will have more involvement in
personnel—from the minors to the majors—than the traditional farm
director, and his wide range of experience should be well suited to
Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware):
Delmarva and Bluefield had the worst record in their respective leagues,
the Ironbirds were next to last in their division, and the GCL O's
finished in last place. Will Frederick and Delmarva be the worst ever
in 2011, or is there some ray of hope for success with these class A
I think a lot of that was a case of Orioles
prospects being spread too thin with three short-season affiliates, and
that's one of the reasons you saw the organization drop the Bluefield
affiliation to go with the GCL and NYP as its short-season stops going
forward. So I think the Class A teams should be OK next year. And the
correlation between minor league winning and prospect development is
sketchy anyway, so I wouldn't worry too much about it. I think the
organization is looking to bolster the higher levels with more veteran
types, though, which could slow down player movement, so that might help
the record as well.
Kyle (Oxford): Do you think Brandon Waring has a future in the big leagues as a power bat off the bench?
I think that is precisely his future. He
can spell guys at first and third and even the outfield, but you really
don't want him playing any of those spots every day. And his power is
legit, so in a perfect world he's a great guy to have on your bench.
Ryan Hall (Abingdon, MD): Hi Will, thanks for
all the work you've done on the O's lists over the years. This year,
I've heard Machado referred to many times as a 5-tool player, and it
happened again in your scouting report today. How can you say that with
a straight face while also calling his speed fringe-average? I think
Machado is an example of how people are too eager to toss out 5-tool
labels. Shouldn't the tools be above-average to be included in the "X"
number of tools a player gets credit for?
Strictly speaking, five-tool player just
means he's at least major league average in all five areas, which is
intended to designate a well-rounded player. Over the years, though, it
has become more associated with "superstar," which is not always the
case. I think people underestimate just how hard it is to be major
league average in ANY area. If you look through a long list of minor
league scouting reports, you'll find a lot of guys with zero major
league average tools, or maybe just one. So my intention with the term
was just to show that he does not have a glaring weakness in his game. A
guy who's above-average in all five areas is rare indeed. And I typed
all that with a straight face.
Dylan Paul (Chapel Hill, NC): Does Ryan Adams project to be an everyday IF at the ML level?
Ideally, I think Adams is more of a utility
guy, though I'm not sure he can play short. But he can play second and
third and maybe left field as well, so that could be a fit. He has hit
everywhere he has been, though, so he still could end up being an
everyday player. To me that would be most likely at second, but he
really needs to improve his defense to make that happen. Some in the
organization like him better at third, so you may see him get more
opportunity there next season. His 2010 was definitely the kind of
season he needed to have, so let's see if he can build on it.
Peter (NYC): Which of our injured 2009 draftees
had the best chance of recovering and moving forward: LHP Coffey, LHP
Wirsch, 1B Townsend, RHP Henry, RHP Cowan, and LHP Tolliver? How would
you rank them in terms of hope fort he future?
The number of injuries that hit the Orioles
system this season was amazing. We haven't even mentioned Erbe's torn
labrum, Lebron's Tommy John surgery, Givens' thumb, Hoes' mono (illness,
but still slowed him down like an injury), Angle's hamate, Justin
Dalles' two concussions, and I'm sure I'm leaving some out. Of the guys
Peter mentions, the one I would have most liked to rank would have been
Townsend, but he has just missed too much time. He had thumb problems in
09, hamstring problems this year, and then had to leave the AFL with a
cyst on his wrist so he didn't get to make up those at-bats. It's kind
of like Hobgood. You can have reason to hope for a bounceback next year,
but there's not enough actual evidence there to bet on it by ranking
him in the top 10.
Dingbat Charlie (Washington, DC): How close was Connor Narron to the top 10?
I went into the process thinking he might
have a chance, but really didn't generate much buzz, at least for top 10
purposes. I know some scouts thought he would have been better off
going to college, and as a North Carolina alum I certainly would have
Jeff (Syracuse, NY): I know they're not
eligible now, but how much have things changed long-term for Matusz,
Arrieta and Tillman? How would you rank the three, and where does
Britton fit in?
I would say Matusz still comes out on top,
with the way he finished the season. Britton we have moved ahead of
Arrieta and Tillman in our future rotation, but I think that's more of a
commentary on Britton's continued improvement than Arrieta or Tillman
slipping significantly. Obviously you're going to want them to pitch
better going forward, but the encouraging development is that Britton
has been consistently getting better over the last few years.
Rick (Aberdeen): Beato had his best year as a
pro out of the 'pen. How does he profile as a reliever? Same thing
with Pelzer, are these quality future relievers, or the second coming of
I think both guys profile best as
relievers, but I think Pelzer at least still has a chance as a starter.
Beato definitely will have to make it in the bullpen if he makes it at
all. I think Pelzer's stuff plays up out of the bullpen, but the Orioles
may give him a chance to start this season to see if he can command the
Peter (NYC): Should we hope on any of our 1B
candidates Snyder, Mahoney, or Townsend or are we better off filling the
need outside the organization?
I've sort of answered this question in
pieces previously in the chat, but at this point I would say you would
want to go outside the organization if you're looking for a
first-division everyday first baseman.
Peter (NYC): What is holding RHP Bundy back from making the top 10?
Bundy has interesting stuff, a fastball
that touches 95, good changeup, a curveball and a slider, though he uses
the slider as his primary breaking ball now, but his command and
delivery aren't consistent, and that also means the quality of his stuff
is inconsistent as well. Has a chance as a bullpen guy, though based on
his age if he starts showing better command he could take a leap
forward next year.
Mudcatsfan (Raleigh, NC): If i pick up my Baseball Handbook at the BA offices, can i get an autographed copy? I will pay extra, but not much extra.
Sure. You would be even more likely to have success if you take us to the Backyard BBQ Pit.
Nick (Boston): Will,
Realistically where do you expect Ryan Berry to end up? I know he has
mid rotation starter potential, but he was dominating last year. Is it
because of the injury risk you wouldnt rank him higher?
It's really based more on the fringiness of
his pure stuff. On pure velocity his fastball grades below-average,
though its life makes it play up, so any guy who isn't overpowering is
going to have to be on top of his command all the time. So really you're
likely talking about a back of the rotation starter or a useful guy out
of the bullpen.
Al (Suwanee, GA): Between Xavier Avery and LJ Hoes, which one will make it to the Big Leagues first?
I would guess Hoes because he's more polished with the bat, but Avery's ceiling is higher.
B (chicago): ANy thoughts on Chicago prospect Rick Zagone from Mizzou and how about former Buckeye Matt Angle?
Just don't see how Zagone has the stuff to
be a big league starter, and his command is spotty too, so probably a
bullpen guy and probably not in the top 30. Angle is a great defensive
outfielder and solid hitter. If only he had even the least little bit of
power. Should be a reliable big leaguer, but probably as a fourth or
Ben (Leland Grove): After Machado and Klein, which draft picks from this year came closest to making the Top 10?
Outfielder Trent Mummey is probably the
next guy, and have gotten a few questions about his today. Interesting
guy, center field type, similar to Angle with more power. I know that's
not saying much, but he is athletic and should be a gap to gap guy,
heard one guy compare him to Lenny Dykstra.
Nora (BAL, MD): What's the word on Parker Bridwell, and is he a Top 30 prospect?
Oh, another 2010 draft pick I almost forgot
to mention. Lots of good buzz on Bridwell, just not enough to rank him
in the top 10 yet. He was a multi-sport guy in high school and so flew
under the radar a bit for a Texas pitcher, but he has a big arm and a
pitcher's body. He's long and lanky with an athletic build, and the ball
jumps out of his hand. Can throw in the mid-90s with life, and has
shown both a curveball and slider. Definitely a guy to watch, and he
will be in the top 30.
All right, I think I hit all the
highlights. Thanks for all the questions. If I overlooked yours feel
free to find me on Twitter @willingo and I'll try to answer. Lots of
great prospect excitement on the way, with Jim Callis coming up on
Wednesday with the Red Sox.