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, 2007.
|1.||Bill Rowell, 3b|
|2.||Brandon Erbe, rhp|
|3.||Nolan Reimold, of|
|4.||Pedro Beato, rhp|
|5.||Radhames Liz, rhp|
|6.||Garrett Olson, lhp|
|7.||Brandon Snyder, c|
|8.||James Hoey, rhp|
|9.||Jeff Fiorentino, of|
|10.||Kieron Pope, of|
|Best Hitter for Average||Bill Rowell|
|Best Power Hitter||Nolan Reimold|
|Best Strike-Zone Discipline||Jeff Fiorentino|
|Fastest Baserunner||Jarod Rine|
|Best Athlete||Nolan Reimold|
|Best Fastball||Brandon Erbe|
|Best Curveball||Garrett Olson|
|Best Slider||James Hoey|
|Best Changeup||Garrett Olson|
|Best Control||Garrett Olson|
|Best Defensive Catcher||Eli Whiteside|
|Best Defensive Infielder||Luis Hernandez|
|Best Infield Arm||Bryan Bass|
|Best Defensive Outfielder||Jeff Fiorentino|
|Best Outfield Arm||Arturo Rivas|
|First Base||Brandon Snyder|
|Second Base||Brian Roberts|
|Third Base||Bill Rowell|
|Left Field||Nolan Reimold|
|Center Field||Corey Patterson|
|Right Field||Nick Markakis|
|Designated Hitter||Jay Gibbons|
|No. 1 Starter||Erik Bedard|
|No. 2 Starter||Adam Loewen|
|No. 3 Starter||Daniel Cabrera|
|No. 4 Starter||Hayden Penn|
|No. 5 Starter||Brandon Erbe|
OF THE DECADE
|1997||Nerio Rodriguez, rhp||Pirates|
|1998||Ryan Minor, 3b||Out of baseball|
|1999||Matt Riley, lhp||Rangers|
|2000||Matt Riley, lhp||Rangers|
|2001||Keith Reed, of||Orioles|
|2002||Richard Stahl, lhp||Orioles|
|2003||Erik Bedard, lhp||Orioles|
|2004||Adam Loewen, lhp||Orioles|
|2005||Nick Markakis, of||Orioles|
|2006||Nick Markakis, of||Orioles|
|TOP DRAFT PICKS|
OF THE DECADE
|1997||Jayson Werth, c||Dodgers|
|1998||Rick Elder, of||Out of baseball|
|1999||Mike Paradis, rhp||Out of baseball|
|2000||Beau Hale, rhp||Orioles|
|2001||Chris Smith, lhp||Out of baseball|
|2002||Adam Loewen, lhp||Orioles|
|2003||Nick Markakis, of||Orioles|
|2004||*Wade Townsend, rhp||Devil Rays|
|2005||Brandon Snyder, c||Orioles|
|2006||Bill Rowell, 3b||Orioles|
|*Did not sign|
IN CLUB HISTORY
|Adam Loewen, 2002||$3,200,000|
|Beau Hale, 2000||$2,250,000|
|Chris Smith, 2001||$2,175,000|
|Bill Rowell, 2006||$2,100,000|
|Darnell McDonald, 1997||$1,900,000|
s it the best of times or worst of times in Baltimore?
The Orioles integrated four of the top five players from last year's prospect list into their big league roster in 2006, led by right fielder Nick Markakis, who hit .311 with 14 homers after the all-star break, and Chris Ray, who saved 33 games. That group didn't include righthander John Maine, who went to the Mets in the Kris Benson deal and rose to prominence during New York's playoff run.
Baltimore also had its second straight productive draft under scouting director Joe Jordan, adding more high-ceiling talent to the farm system, starting with new No. 1 prospect Bill Rowell. The Orioles also moved their Triple-A affiliation to Norfolk after four years in exile in Ottawa, giving them perhaps the most attractive arrangement of affiliates in the game. All six of the organization's minor league teams are within driving distance of Baltimore.
But there's also the small matter of a ninth straight losing season at the big league level, the worst stretch in team history. The Orioles also finished in fourth place in the American League East for the eighth time in the last nine years, leading inevitably to the lowest attendance ever at Camden Yards. And the farm system still lacks depth, especially among position players, and had virtually no legitimate big league talent at the upper levels after the graduation of Markakis and friends.
The meddling of owner Peter Angelos and his sons also continues to hamper the franchise. The Orioles sought deals for its most marketable asset--shortstop Miguel Tejada, who becomes more disgruntled by the game--only to have them vetoed by ownership.
Manager Sam Perlozzo and pitching coach Leo Mazzone have stabilized things in the big league dugout, but they haven't produced improved results on the field yet. That's because the Orioles simply don't have enough good players at this point.
The pitching staff is young and shows promise, with 27-year-old lefthander Erik Bedard emerging as the team's ace and Daniel Cabrera, Adam Loewen and Hayden Penn trying to show they can be consistent winners. Ray has taken a stranglehold on the closer's job, and Chris Britton and James Hoey show promise as setup men.
It's harder to be optimistic about the team's hitters, though. Whether he's happy or not, Tejada was still the team's best offensive player again in 2006, leading the Orioles with 24 home runs and 100 RBIs. Ramon Hernandez was a good signing at catcher, Markakis should be a productive player for years and Corey Patterson benefited from his change of scenery.
But the team lacks power, finishing 11th in the AL in both home runs and slugging percentage in 2006, and probably will have to go outside the organization if it wants to patch the holes quickly. The only players who look like good bets to be big league run producers in the farm system--Rowell and Nolan Reimold--won't be ready to contribute in the big leagues until at least 2008.
So it's no wonder Orioles fans remain frustrated. Though there are some legitimate reasons for optimism, the last decade has taught them all too well to be skeptical of whether the team has the people in place to pull everything together.