Orioles Top 10 Prospects Chat

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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.

Moderator: Will Lingo will chat about Orioles prospects with subscribers at 3 p.m. ET.

Will Lingo: 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.

Will Lingo: 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?

Will Lingo: 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. The end.

    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?

Will Lingo: 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 makers.

    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?

Will Lingo: 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 these guys?

Will Lingo: 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 the spring.

    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?

Will Lingo: 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?

Will Lingo: 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?

Will Lingo: 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 top 10.

    JAYPERS (IL): Are the O's open to putting Givens on the mound if it doesn't work out for him in the infield?

Will Lingo: 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?

Will Lingo: 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.

Will Lingo: 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 doing that.

    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 Oriole teams?

Will Lingo: 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?

Will Lingo: 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?

Will Lingo: 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?

Will Lingo: 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?

Will Lingo: 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?

Will Lingo: 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 liked that.

    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?

Will Lingo: 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 Radhames Liz?

Will Lingo: 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 ball consistently.

    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?

Will Lingo: 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?

Will Lingo: 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.

Will Lingo: 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?

Will Lingo: 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?

Will Lingo: 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?

Will Lingo: 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 fifth outfielder.

    Ben (Leland Grove): After Machado and Klein, which draft picks from this year came closest to making the Top 10?

Will Lingo: 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?

Will Lingo: 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.

Will Lingo: 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.