2013 Baltimore Orioles Top 10 Prospects Chat With Matt Forman





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.

Matt Forman: The World Series is over. That means one thing: It's time for Baseball America's Top 10 lists, debuting today with the Orioles. Hello and welcome to another season of Prospect Handbook goodness, baseball fans and prospect followers alike. I'm honored and proud to be throwing out the first pitch on the next two months of list releases, in which Baseball America will chat throughout the fall and winter and bring you scouting reports on 300 future big leaguers to enjoy. If you're on the East Coast (particularly in the Mid-Atlantic or Northeast) battening down the hatches for Sandy, like I am, please be safe. But hunker down with me in the BA chatroom for the next couple hours. We'll keep our fingers crossed the power stays on. Let's get to some questions...

    Grant (NYC): If you compared this list of 10 against last year's, which would you prefer and why?

Matt Forman: This seems like as good a place to start as any. Thanks for the question, Grant. With the benefit of time to look back on last year's list, I'll give a slight edge to the 2012 version. After substituting in Kevin Gausman for Manny Machado at the No. 2 spot, a lot of the names remain the same: Dylan Bundy, Jonathan Schoop, Nick Delmonico, L.J. Hoes and Xavier Avery. Delving a bit deeper, Parker Bridwell, Jason Esposito and Dan Klein all dropped out, and those are names I'm sure we'll touch on throughout the chat, while Eduardo Rodriguez took a huge step forward, as did Mike Wright. I'm a fan of 2012 draftees Branden Kline and Adrian Marin. So the Top-10 has star potential at the top, and while only two or three of these prospects will make the Top 100 list, there's big league value deeper than last year offered.

    Dara (Denver): Safe to assume only Bundy and Gausman are likely to make BA's top 100, or does Schoop get your vote as well? (We realize you don't contribute to that list, just wanted your opinion.)

Matt Forman: Thanks for joining us today, Dara. Always enjoy the Top 100 questions. As indicated, and following up on the previous answer, Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman are locks to make the Top 100, possibly even the top 25. Bundy should secure a spot in the top 5, and Gausman won't fall far behind. After those two, it'll be based on how each individual views Jonathan Schoop. I believe in Schoop's bat enough that he'd make the back end of my personal Top 100. Without sitting down and putting together the list. Neither Nick Delmonico nor Eduardo Rodriguez would make the cut, but they're ones to watch for next year.

    Ty (Baltimore): Had he not graduated from prospect status, any chance Machado could have unseated Bundy from the #1 spot?

Matt Forman: Good question, Ty, and hope you're staying safe from Sandy in Baltimore. Jim Callis' newest column addresses this very topic, the list of "almost prospects" for 2012: http://www.baseballamerica.com/online/prospects/column/2012/2614243.html But to play devil's advocate here for a minute... It would have been a very, very hard decision to make, and I might have argued in favor of Machado. Middle-of-the-diamond, middle-of-the-order All-Star shortstops don't come along very often. And Machado did nothing but exceed expectations in his two-month big league stint, batting .262/.294/.445 in his age-19 season.

    Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Matt, thank you for the chat today, and thanks for the great work! Obviously I have to work in a question for personal cheesball Glynn Davis. How close was he to the cutoff here? Also, he is still raw, but did evaluators feel like there was improvement in his overall game this year?

Matt Forman: Hey Joe, so glad you could join us today for the chat, and stay safe on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. We've talked about your #personalcheeseball Glynn Davis several times, and you'll be happy to know he was one of the last cuts for the Top 10. In fact, an original iteration of the list had Davis occupying the 10th spot, with Adrian Marin and left-hander Tim Berry at No.'s 11 and 12. For more detail than that, you'll have to pre-order the Prospect Handbook! As suggested, Davis is definitely raw, particularly at the plate. Scouts saw some improvement with his approach this year, but it'll have to continue to improve if he's going to be an everyday player. But he's got top-of-the-scale speed, a true 80 runner, and he can throw. The comparison that was thrown out there: Peter Bourjos.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Thanks for the chat, Matt. What did scouts have to say about Torsten Boss' season, specifically his tools?

Matt Forman: Ahh, it wouldn't be a chat without a question (or five) from Jaypers. Thanks for the question Jaypers; this was the first one in the queue. Torsten Boss, the Orioles' 2012 eight-round pick, is an interesting case. He doesn't have any standout tools, but he doesn't have any glaring weaknesses. Boss batted .257/.360/.414 in 67 games at short-season Aberdeen in his professional debut, and scouts like his smooth left-handed stroke, though they're not certain of his future defensive home. He's got a plus arm that should play in multiple spots, and at least for now, Baltimore might be best developing him at the hot corner.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Did Bundy look Major League ready to you during the brief time he pitched for the O's? If not, where do you believe the O's will send him to start 2013?

Matt Forman: We'll go back-to-back Jaypers questions here... I saw Bundy pitch seven times across three levels this summer, and I'd rather use that sample to judge Bundy's 2013 assignment than his two big-league appearances (1.2 innings). Bundy certainly could contribute in Baltimore right away in 2013, but my guess is he'll spend the early portion of next season at Triple-A. With the caveat that I'm not a scout, yet acknowledging that I talked to plenty for this list, Bundy would benefit from some additional minor-league seasoning. Late in the year, especially at Double-A, opposing hitters were seeing the ball well and making solid contact off Bundy, even if his numbers don't indicate it, largely because his fastball has average life and his command/consistency wavered. Additionally, in his playoff start for the Baysox that I was in attendance for, Bundy threw 5 of 13 curveballs for strikes, and none were swinging strikes — his arm circle in the back was tipping the pitch. Now, all that said, we were spoiled by a 19-year-old who dominated all season long, and has an argument for being the top prospect in baseball. With his combination of polish and power, he's well on his way to being Baltimore's ace.

    Grant (NYC): Would Bobby Bundy be a top 30 guy to you?

Matt Forman: Another good question, Grant, and let's keep the questions in the Bundy family... While the finishing touches are still being applied to the Orioles' Top 30, at this stage Bobby Bundy, Dylan's older brother, likely will not be make the list. His stuff was down all year, and scouts suggested he pitched all season with an injury that he didn't talk about until late July. Bundy had surgery to address bone spurs in his right elbow. The elder Bundy has a four-pitch mix, and when healthy, his ceiling is a back-end starter or more likely a middle reliever.

    Lori (Manhasset, NY): Between Clay Schrader and Lex Rutledge, who came closer to your list, and why?

Matt Forman: Interesting question, Lori, and thanks for joining us from Long Island today. Clay Schrader came closer to making the Top 10 (although not that close), and he will rank higher in the Prospect Handbook when it's released in January. Schrader and Lex Rutledge show plus velocity, albeit from different sides of the rubber, and both get it done with unorthodox deliveries. But Schrader has done it at higher levels, pitching for Double-A Bowie this summer and now in the Arizona Fall League, while 2012 sixth-rounder Rutledge debuted for short-season Aberdeen this year. Schrader, a max effort guy, sits 91-95 mph with his fastball, and he throws a swing-and-miss 79-82 slider. Rutledge, way over the top with his arm action, operates 90-93 as a starter (has shown more in relief), and also mixes a 77-80 straight downer curveball.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Who would you consider the system's biggest sleeper?

Matt Forman: Fun question, Ben, and appreciate you stopping by. My biggest sleeper award goes to 2012 19th-round draftee Josh Hader, a tall, lanky left-handed pitcher from suburban Baltimore whose velocity and physicality took off once he signed. Jim Callis has some good details in his Orioles Draft Report Card entry here: http://www.baseballamerica.com/online/draft/news/2012/2614208.html Hader was an under-the-radar prep prospect, sitting 84-87 mph with his fastball and showing secondary stuff in its nascent stages. But Baltimore put him on a long-toss program, helped him bulk up, straightened out his delivery, and Hader was working 89-94 in instructional league. In terms of body type, delivery and arm action (and not projection), Hader drew comparisons to Chris Sale. He's one to keep an eye on, for sure.

    Ben (Leland Grove): How close was Ty Kelly to your top 10, and what's the skinny on him?

Matt Forman: Another good question, Ben, as a few others asked about Ty Kelly, who wasn't particularly close to cracking the Top 10 but will make the Top 30. Kelly hit .327/.425/.467 across three levels in 2012, moving from high Class A Frederick to Triple-A Norfolk. He walked 79 times and struck out just 72 times this year, and his plate discipline ranks among the best in the system. The skinny: Kelly will have to continue hitting to reach the big leagues. His bat, from both sides of the plate, is his only above-average tool. He doesn't run particularly well, he doesn't have a great arm and he doesn't have a real defensive home. But if he hits the way he did, the Orioles will be pressed to find a spot for him, which they started to do during instructional league, where Kelly even played some first base.

    Not Jaypers (Wisconsin): Matt, is there a chance that Brandon Waring gets to the majors in 2013 as a power bat off the bench?

Matt Forman: Are you sure you're not Jaypers? Sure, there's a chance Brandon Waring reaches the majors in 2013 in the role you've described. Waring, who has among the best power in the system, smacked 53 extra-base hits this summer across two levels. Right-handed power is an increasingly rare commodity in the game today, which gives Waring a boost, and we saw how many different position players Baltimore used last year — something like 27. But I'd give a slight edge to Joe Mahoney, as far as potential bats off the bench for next season.

    Dan (Ohio): Who is the best natural 1B, Delmonico or Tyler Townsend?Best power potential when healthy? Thanks.

Matt Forman: Like the question, Dan. Along with Brandon Waring, Tyler Townsend and Aaron Baker have the best power potential in the system, though they're a tick behind Schoop, if only because Schoop has the best chance to have an impact in the big leagues (Re: He's the best prospect of the bunch). Nick Delmonico shows some raw power in batting practice, but he projects to have average usable (game) power.

    Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Matt, we've spoken about it before: Esposito's year was pretty horrific - coming out of Vandy and over-matched in the SAL was a little shocking. Were does he begin next year - pushed to Frederick because of his age, or does start back in Delmarva?

Matt Forman: You're guess is as good as mine, Joe. I'm not sure what you do with Esposito, Baltimore's 2011 second-round selection. Esposito hit .209/.260/.277 for low Class A Delmarva in his first full professional season, and he didn't show many positive signs of being able to make an impact with the bat. One scout compared Esposito to a poor man's Matt Dominguez — that is, smooth with the glove, not sure the bat will play.

    Greg (Fullerton, CA): How far has Dan Klein fallen in terms of prospect status? Too injury prone or still big league potential?

Matt Forman: Glad you addressed Dan Klein, Greg. Klein, Baltimore's 2011 third-round selection, ranked 10th on last year's list, and on pure stuff (when healthy) would rank pretty well. But it's hard to rank Klein in the Top-10 or even Top-30 given his injury history. In three minor-league seasons, Klein has compiled just 38.2 innings, and he didn't throw at all in 2012. If he could get back to full strength, there's big-league stuff in there. At 24 and multiple arm surgeries in his past, it won't be an easy road.

    Richard (North Brunswick, NJ): I thought Henry Urrutia would be on the list. A 25 year old Cuban who hit .397 his last year (2010) seems like he would fit somewhere on this list, especially considering that the O's system isn't that deep.

Matt Forman: Good call, Richard, and hope you're able to fight off Sandy safely. I anticipated Henry Urrutia would make this list when I first started reporting and researching, but he was bumped out by the prospects in the 7-10 range. Urrutia is still dealing with Visa and residency issues, so he hasn't yet played in the States, even in instructional league. In a perfect world, deferring to international prospect guru Ben Badler on this one, Urrutia profiles as a fourth outfielder in a perfect world, because he doesn't project to have the power you're looking for in a corner outfielder. Whenever his residency is straightened out, Urrutia likely will not need much time in the minor leagues, however, and could quickly help in Baltimore after a short stint in Double-A Bowie or Triple-A Norfolk.

    Zach (Baltimore): What's your take Parker Bridwell? Despite poor numbers this year, I would have thought his power arm and projectable frame would make him a Top-10 consideration.

    Dan (Idaho Falls): Given his 2012 performance, I'm not surprised that Parker Bridwell fell off of the top-10 list for the O's. What might we expect from him in the future, and what contributed to his lack of forward progress this season? Thanks!

Matt Forman: There's still plenty of hope for 2010 over-slot ninth-rounder Parker Bridwell, who ranked fourth on this list a year ago, despite struggles in the South Atlantic League this year. Bridwell didn't receive much consideration for the Top-10, but he will rank in the 30. Scouts still like his 6-foot-4 frame, and youth is on his side. More than anything, Bridwell struggles with consistency — of stuff (down later in the year) and delivery (repeatability and arm slot).

    jim (portland): What kind of prospect is Tim Berry? Hasn't put up great numbers but is regarded as a top 20 prospect for the O's.

    Deron (Chicago): How close was Tim Berry to making it into the top 10. Also, can you explain why his numbers in pro ball have not been very good but he is so highly regarded?

Matt Forman: As indicated earlier, Tim Berry was a borderline Top-10 candidate, and he while reached Double-A Bowie at the end of 2012, opponents hit .291 against him across three levels. Berry is highly regarded because of his projectable 6-foot-3, 180-pound frame, his plus velocity (90-94 mph) from the left side and his pitchability. But his stuff is inconsistent, specifically his secondary offerings, and he doesn't quite have fine command (which still could be coming back from Tommy John as a prep senior). His curveball flashes plus potential in warmups, and he's able to spin the ball well, but he doesn't quite get to it during game action. That, and his solid-average changeup, give him the makings of three solid-average pitches, which means he has the potential to pitch at the back-end of a rotation, possibly as a No. 4 starter.

    Rich Dauer's Glove (Hagerstown, MD): Hi Matt. I'm a huge Nicky Delmonico fan and was able to see him play here in SALLY country. What are your thoughts on his potential as well as eventual position. Thanks for the chat!

Matt Forman: Nice chat handle, Mr. Glove, and thanks for the question. I'm a believer in Delmonico, and have been ever since I saw him play at the Tournament of Stars in 2009. Delmonico has an advanced bat and approach at the plate, which should carry him to the big leagues, and his ceiling is as an everyday corner infielder. Which (somewhat) addresses his future position. Most scouts I spoke with see Delmonico's future at third base, even though he didn't play there in 2012, instead splitting time between first and second base. He doesn't have the hands or actions to stick at the keystone, but he should have the arm and feet to play the hot corner. Now, if Delmonico needs to move to first full-time, questions will surface whether he has enough power to play there.

    @ProspectD2J (Toronto): Would you have ranked C Gabriel Lino (who was traded to the Phillies in the Jim Thome deal) in the Orioles top 10 if he was still in the system?

Matt Forman: Thanks for the question, D2J. I'll have a better feel for Gabriel Lino once I start further delving into reporting/researching for the Phillies list, which I'm putting together once again this year. My gut feel: Lino would have fallen somewhere in the 10-20 range, much like last year. Lino is very young, but he's also very raw. Early reports indicated he's a good receiver with soft hands, though his catch-and-throw skills are still improving, with pop times in the 2.15- to 2.25-second range. He's still working to tap into his raw power.

    @ProspectD2J (Toronto): The Orioles shocked the world in 2012 by contending, let alone actually making the playoffs. Are they for real? Or do you see them falling back down to earth in 2013? There isn't much depth in the minor league system. Outside of Bundy and Gausman there aren't many players to get excited about now that Machado has graduated.

Matt Forman: Another good question, D2J. The Orioles certainly shocked Pythagoras in 2012, surpassing their expected 82-80 record by finishing 93-69 and beating the Rangers in the one-game Wild Card playoff. As currently constructed, I'd foresee Baltimore's 2013 record being more in line with the anticipated win-loss total right around .500. But what do I know? Plus, the Orioles won't have the same lineup next season. They'll have the option of playing Manny Machado for a full season. If they sign Nate McLouth, that would be a boost. If Nick Markakis and Nolan Reimold can stay healthy for a full year, that too would help. Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman won't be far away. Beyond that, though, there's not a ton of depth, as you've indicated. As one front-office official said to me: "We love the guys we've got, we've just got to get more of them."

    Mike Tangee (NorCal): Some articles I have read indicated Gausman may actually be a better long term prospect than Bundy. He has a decided size advantage and generates the same velocity with much less effort. Your thoughts?

Matt Forman: Appreciate the question, Mike, and hope you're enjoying NorCal's weather today. I hadn't seen many articles suggesting Gausman over Bundy, but I will say this: There's not total consensus within Baltimore's front office. Before I get to the heart of the question, having seen Bundy pitch in-person a bunch (and Gausman at Tournament of Stars in 2009, along with on TV), I don't think it's fair to characterize his delivery as having much effort. I liked Conor Glassey's comparison from last summer: Of course someone 6-foot-4, who's like a V6 engine, isn't going to have to work as hard as someone 6-foot, a 4-cylinder, to sit in the low- to mid-90s. But the ball comes out pretty easy for Bundy. Now, addressing the meat of the prompt: I don't think Gausman is far behind Bundy, and it wouldn't totally surprise me if he's the better long-term pitcher. Gausman is the better athlete, and his fastball is more deceptive to hitters. His future will really depend on the development of his slider, because his changeup is a plus-plus offering. They're both going to pitch in Baltimore for a good while.

    Tim (Oxnard): What is the future for Matt Hobgood? Is it time to move on from him or is there anything in there that gives reason to keep him around? Maybe he should try hitting?

Matt Forman: You know, Tim, I wondered the same thing when I set out putting this list together. I didn't expect there to be much support for Matt Hobgood, Baltimore's first-round pick in 2009. But one scout from outside the organization said something like, "Don't sleep on him, if he can come back healthy." Hobgood had rotator cuff surgery in early April and didn't pitch at all in 2012. Shoulders seem to be tougher than elbows these days, so there's no guarantee he'll come back 100 percent. But at this point, there's nothing for the Orioles to lose. They've invested him in, and they should keep him around. Anything you get out of him would be a bonus.

    JD (AZ): Matt, thanks for the chat. Wondering what you have heard about Johnny Ruettiger and whether he has a chance to crack the top 30?

Matt Forman: Thanks for the question, JD: Are you an Arizona State fan? There was some support internally and externally for Johnny Ruettiger, and he'll be a fringe Top-30 candidate. Scouts like his baseball IQ, and his effort for playing the game the right way. The word "gamer" gets tossed around a lot, and that's usually associated with the profile of an over-achiever. Ruettiger doesn't have loud tools; he's a plus runner, but everything else is average or fringy on the major-league scale. He's a solid defender who tracks the ball well, and because he can hold his own in centerfield, his ceiling is as a fourth outfielder.

    @ProspectD2J (Toronto): Can you give a brief scouting report on Orioles OF Roderick Bernadina, and a rundown on his progress in 2012?

Matt Forman: Scouts didn't get many extended looks at Roderick Bernadina, who taxied between Baltimore's three local Class A affiliates, wherever he was needed: Aberdeen, Delmarva and Frederick. For that reason, it was hard to tell how much progress he made from last year, which he spent in the Gulf Coast League, in an age-appropriate setting. Bernadina made the back half of the Top 30 last year, and he's a borderline candidate this year. He has good bat speed and hand strength, and he can square up a fastball, though he's still learning to recognize offspeed stuff. He's a high-energy, love-the-game competitor. The 2013 season, when he settles in at a level, will be an important developmental year.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Do you agree with the O's decision for Bundy to scrap his cutter?

Matt Forman: Figured I'd get a few more questions about Dylan Bundy's cutter, which was arguably his best pitch as an amateur. As an aside, I thought MASN's Steve Melewski did a nice job covering the topic this summer, getting insights from general manager Dan Duquette and well-respected pitching coordinator Rick Peterson. Personally, I had no problem with the Orioles removing Bundy's cutter from his arsenal, if only to help him further develop his other secondary stuff. This is not uncommon practice for other organizations; One instance I'm most familiar with is the Phillies scrapping Lisalverto Bonillia's changeup to make him establish his fastball early in counts and more often utilize his slider. I'd say there's evidence this worked for Bundy: His changeup improved drastically from early in the season, and in that playoff start at Double-A Bowie that I referenced earlier, Bundy induced nine swinging strikes (18 total strikes) on 22 changeups. The changeup was average early in the year, and had the makings of a plus pitch (or more) by September. Any other justifications for removing the cutter, however, I couldn't claim to support personally, specifically the long-term loss of fastball velocity or its effectiveness as a big-league out pitch. I'd guess Bundy won't be allowed to throw the cutter as long as he's in the minor leagues. Once he gets to the big leagues, all bets are off, as getting outs will be a premium. (Time will tell, and it's unclear whether there will be an adjustment period to reintroduce it.) The cutter could be a real separator for Bundy, especially against opposing left-handed hitters, who squared up his four-seamer at the higher levels.

    Jake (Palatine, IL): Hi Matt, thanks for the chat! Who do you like better long-term, Gausman or Matt Barnes?

Matt Forman: Wow, nice question, Jake. That's a tough one. (Having put together the 2011 Northeast draft reports, I've got some background with Barnes.) I'll give a slight edge to Gausman, but it's close. I'd be interested in knowing Jim Callis' answer to the same question — You'll have to stop by and ask him Wednesday, when he tackles the Red Sox chat!

    Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Matt, what were your thoughts about the O's draft overall this year? Even with some front office changes made it still felt like the same outcome as usual: take the no-brainer in the 1st round and then select a lot of players that essentially feel like low-ceiling AAAA talent.

Matt Forman: Interesting perspective, Joe. Generally, I can see why you'd feel this way, but let me argue the opposite side here. (And quickly, it's worth noting that several members of Baltimore's front office said former scouting director Joe Jordan, now the Phillies farm director, doesn't get enough credit for the job he did.) Kevin Gausman was the no-brainer first-rounder you spoke of, and I know of at least one team who had Gausman as high as No. 2 on their draft board. But beyond Gausman, I like a couple of the Orioles' picks. Second-rounder Branden Kline has two plus pitches and could stick in the middle of the rotation, though he'd be on the fast track with a role in the bullpen. Adrian Marin, the third-rounder, showed more hittability in his pro debut than expected as an amateur, and he can really defend. With some smoothing out of his delivery, sixth-rounder Lex Rutledge could click, and he's shown elite-level velocity from the left side in the past. As mentioned earlier, sleeper Josh Hader could surprise some people, and he's already taken big steps. And that leaves off one of my personal cheeseballs, fourth-rounder Christian Walker, who's got an over-achiever profile. With his bat-to-ball skills, he's going to hit, and it wouldn't surprise me if turns into a Kevin Millar-like player. There's potential for some impact there.

Matt Forman: Alright, folks, thanks very much for joining me this afternoon, and I appreciate all of your great questions. We're quickly approaching three hours in the chat room, and there's still a number of questions left in the queue, so I'm going to wrap things up. I tried to address every prospect mentioned more than once, and any other pertinent prompts. If there's anything else you'd like to ask, give me a shout on Twitter @matt_forman. Be sure to come back Wednesday for Jim Callis' Red Sox chat, and keep it at BaseballAmerica.com throughout the fall and winter for more prospecty goodness. And for those of you in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, again, stay safe.