2012 Baltimore Orioles Top 10 Prospects Chat With Will Lingo

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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 answer your Orioles questions beginning at 1 p.m. ET.

Will Lingo: Hi everyone. It's a cold, dreary day here at Baseball America HQ, so why not sit around the hot stove and talk prospects?

    Frank (Chicago): Is Roderick Bernadina someone we should keep an eye on? How far is he from full season ball?

Will Lingo: Roderick, brother of Roger, signed with Orioles in 2009 and played in the Gulf Coast League last year. He is not close to the Top 10 yet, but he has intriguing right-field tools. He is in the 21-30 portion of the list in the Prospect Handbook. His bat speed and raw power are his most intriguing traits; the question will be if he can develop better pitch recognition and handle breaking stuff. I would think he'll get a chance to win a spot on the Delmarva roster in spring training, but probably more likely he'll go to Aberdeen in the New York-Penn League this year.

    Brenda (Philly): Hi, Will! I always look forward to the O's list each year, as well as the top 100. How many of these guys can we look forward to seeing there?

Will Lingo: Brenda, the O's have a pretty well defined top three, and the dropoff after them is significant. Bundy and Machado are shoo-ins for the Top 100 and will be high on the list. Schoop should figure into the middle of the list somewhere. After them, I would be surprised if anyone else is on there. Parker Bridwell hasn't proven enough, and there are questions about how L.J. Hoes' offensive and defensive profiles will mesh.

    StP (Sarasota): No love for the "crafty" Tsuyoshi Wada?

Will Lingo: Wada signed too late for inclusion on the Orioles list, which closed when the print edition went to press. If he had signed in time, he certainly would have been a Top 10 guy, as he will step right into the big league rotation. We do have a full scouting report on Wada (as well as five other international free agents) in the appendix of our Prospect Handbook. He's a pitchability lefty who has to be precise with his stuff to succeed. I probably would have slotted him in at No. 6 on the Orioles list.

    Burton Guster (Santa Barbra (CA)): I was surprised Bobby Bundy didn't make the top 10 after a very impressive showing in the Carolina League. What kept him off, and how does he profile long-term?

Will Lingo: The elder Bundy (he is Dylan's older brother for the uninitiated, which I'm guessing does not include anyone checking in on this chat) did have a good 2011 season to put himself in the Orioles' plans. He ranks in the 11-20 group in the Prospect Handbook. He earns high marks for his competitiveness. The problem with profiling BBundy for higher levels is that he doesn't have an overpowering fastball (solid at 89-93 mph with sink, but not overpowering) and his offspeed stuff is too inconsistent. That's why he had a 9.60 ERA when he moved up to Double-A. So he's a mid-rotation starter at best, and he'll have to improve his complementary pitches to reach that ceiling.

    Greg T (London, ON): Hi - it seems Hoes is a bit underrated. Those numbers in AA look very solid for someone who was only 21 years old. Thoughts?

Will Lingo: Greg, I agree with you to a point. I think he is a proven hitter and can continue to hit at higher levels. The problem is his profile. If he could play second base I think you would have a really nice offensive second baseman, but he just can't get it done there, lacking range both ways. There are some who actually think he has a better chance at third base, but it's looking like he'll be best off in left field, and there it's going to be dicey for him to have enough power. As noted in his scouting report, he did show improved power last year, so you can find people who think he can do it, but those people are in the minority.

    Will T. (Cary, N.C.): Clay Schrader was lights out this past year in the lower minors. Is he a guy who could potentially be a late-inning reliever in the O's bullpen or will his command hold him back?

Will Lingo: Schrader is a really interesting guy who just missed the Top 10. He's aggressive and his fastball and curveball are both plus pitches at their best. Points of concern: he has effort in his delivery, and he was shut down in August with tendinitis and tenderness in his forearm; and as you mention, command. He has gotten outs at lower levels, but there's a worry that he won't throw enough quality strikes to get outs at higher levels. So I think at best you're looking at a set-up guy.

    Burton Guster (Santa Barbra (CA)): Tyler Townsend has really hit when he's been healthy. Was he close to cracking the Top 10? Is he the best pure hitter in the system?

Will Lingo: Asked and answered, counselor. "When he's been healthy" is a huge statement when talking about Townsend because he's played in just 155 games in 2 1/2 seasons in the organization, mostly due to hamstring problems. He tried to return at the end of 2011 but went back on the DL before Frederick's run to the Carolina League title. In addition to being a good pure hitter, he's also got some of the best power in the system. The Orioles have worked with him on his conditioning to get the hamstring issues resolved once and for all, but for now we have him ranking in the 20s.

    Neil F (Kingston): Reading the scouting report on Dylan Bundy - extremely encourgaing! Seems the teams drafting in front of the Orioles may have missed the boat. Who would you rather have? Gerrit Cole, Danny Hultzen, Trevor Bauer or Dylan Bundy?

Will Lingo: Hard to say those teams "missed the most" after taking three premium college arms. I think that speaks more to the strength of the draft class than to any team making a mistake. The easiest distinction to draw between those three and Bundy is that they could all make contributions in the major leagues this year, while Bundy is further away. And of course because they've pitched at a high level in college ball, they have a better track record against stiffer competition. That said, Bundy could have a higher ceiling than any of them. If I had to draft one of those guys, I think I might take Bauer first, but I would probably take Bundy second. But that's just me, and I have exactly 0 dollars invested in the decision.

    Jadam (A train home): What are your opinions of Matt Angle and Kyle Hudson? Both are burners who probably can run a 4.40 60 time but can't hit the ball put of the infield. Five years from now, are they in MLB , Aaa, or out of baseball?

Will Lingo: I think you're right in grouping them in that they have similar (limited) profiles, but I think Angle has much more value. Granted, he has a limited ceiling, which is why he isn't in the Top 10, but I think he's a very safe bet to reach it. He's a great defender who can play all three outfield positions, and he knows how to put the ball in play and make use of his speed. So he's an asset as a reserve outfielder. Hudson has much more speed, but less aptitude. He's a premium athlete, but he's still refining his baseball skills, particularly his swing. I could see Angle carving out a good career as an outfield reserve, while it seems more likely that Hudson gets more ABs in Triple-A than the big leagues. Kudos to Hudson for reaching Baltimore in 2011, though.

    Grant (NYC): Hobgood - prospect or suspect?

Will Lingo: I'm afraid he has moved to the suspect list until further notice.

    Jake (Baltimore): Between RHPs Kyle Simon and Mike Wright, who are you higher on and why? Thanks Will.

Will Lingo: Not a huge gap between the two, but I think Wright's stuff is a little bit better. Both are sinker/slider types who throw strikes. Wright usually works in the low 90s and touches 96, and he get high marks for his competitiveness. Simon is a little bit thicker (both are listed at 6-5) and works more in the high 80s, touching 93. They should open up together in the Delmarva rotation.

    Norris (Dallas, TX): Thoughts on Ryan Berry at this time?

Will Lingo: The Orioles have cornered the market on pitching Berrys, with Ryan and Tim both ranking in the Top 30 in the Prospect Handbook. Ryan still ranks higher because he was on the fast track before he got sidelined this year. Shoulder problems at Rice dented his draft stock in 2009, so hearing that he missed time due to a shoulder injury last year is worrisome, but it seems the problems were related to a cyst in the muscle around his shoulder, so not a long-term concern. The cyst has been removed and he should be healthy going forward. Look for him to open the season in the Double-A rotation, with the chance to get some big league time if he stays healthy.

    PT (IBC): Glynn Davis or Xavier Avery long term?

Will Lingo: Not many places in the universe are you going to see that as a chat question. Obviously because we ranked Avery No. 9 on our list and Davis 10 spots lower, we would take Avery in that argument. Both rate as "extreme" risks on our new BA grading scale, which you'll see when the Handbook comes out. Avery's ceiling is higher, though, because he has more strength in his hands and should be a better hitter. Davis is an interesting guy, though, a true burner and the fastest runner in the organization. The Orioles followed him throughout 2010 but ultimately decided not to draft him, signing him later in the summer for $120,000. He played short-season ball last year but should be in the Delmarva outfield to open this season.

    Burton Guster (Santa Barbra (CA)): Oliver Drake rebounded nicely after struggling early in AA Bowie. Were any scouts optimistic about his chances to make it to the big leagues as a starter, or at least help in the major league pen?

Will Lingo: Drake is another interesting story, as the Orioles took him out of Navy when he was a draft-eligible sophomore, when other organizations didn't realize that if he left school before his junior season he would not have to fulfill his military commitment. He pitched well in Frederick last year, including a 27-inning scoreless streak, but has struggled in Double-A because his curveball needs work. If he can improve with his breaking ball he could be an innings-eating starter; otherwise he will top out in Double-A or Triple-A.

    Ryan H. (Abingdon, MD): Reports are that the O's have signed Chen Wei-Yin, too. Would he have made the top 10? How does he compare to Wada?

Will Lingo: For Chen you can refer back to the Wada answer in large part. He has a similar profile as a smallish southpaw, though he's 26 while Wada will open the 2012 season at 31. He used to be more of a power pitcher, but his stuff dropped off some last year due to abdominal and leg injuries, as did his strikeout rate. He had been up to 94 mph in games previously, so maybe his stuff will come back. Hard to know exactly where a guy would line up without debating Jim Callis about it, but maybe you'd like him up at No. 6 and Wada at No. 7. Certainly makes the list look a bit better.

    Chris (Aberdeen): Some of the amateur prospect sites out there have Gabby Lino as a top ten Orioles prospect. Even in a thin system, that's a little rich on a slightly oversized complex league catcher, right?

Will Lingo: I would agree with that, Chris. I had Lino at No. 21 on my list, because as you say, he has a good frame, a strong arm and intriguing tools, but he's an awful long way away. He's unrefined defensively, though he does show a good ability to work with pitchers. He has a decent approach and some power potential, but here again you're talking about someone who had 78 at-bats in the GCL in 2011 after batting .200 in the DSL the previous year, so just way too early to get too excited.

    Burton Guster (Santa Barbra (CA)): The GCL Orioles had some intriguing arms in Jaime Esquivel, Sebastian Vader, Miguel Chalas, and Eduardo Rodriguez. How would you rate the four in terms of long-term potential?

Will Lingo: Rodriguez is the only guy who made it into the Top 30, as a command and feel lefty who usually pitches in the high 80s can touch 93 mph. He'll have to improve his complementary pitches and command as he moves up, and probably profiles as a back of the rotation type. He needs to improve his feel for pitching. Interesting to note here that the people I talked to for the Orioles list were not impressed with the level of competition in the GCL in 2011, saying that it was hard to judge the "good" players because they were competing against guys who might never reach A-ball.

    Chris (Aberdeen): Yuck. Is there any other situation in baseball where the worst organization in the division is further away from the next best organization than Baltimore is from Boston/New York? Just talking prospects, not Major League talent here.

Will Lingo: Yuck sums up the feelings of many Orioles fans, I'm guessing. The farm system is not in terrible shape because of the top three, which put it more middle of the pack than bottom of the barrel, so I don't know about the distance of the gap, but the more significant thing is that the Rays, Yankees, Blue Jays and Red Sox (not necessarily in that order) all rank ahead of the Orioles. So if you're trying to climb up, that doesn't give you optimism about the next few years.

    Johnny Vegas (Baudette, MN): How difficult of a choice was it between Bundy and Machado at #1? Is Machado a top 10 prospect in baseball? Machado or Profar?

Will Lingo: The best way it was put to me when I was doing the reporting for the list was the person who said that if both players reach their ceilings, Bundy is a little bit more valuable than Machado as a true No. 1 starter. Based on early polling results, I would guess that Machado will be in the 8-12 range on our Top 100 Prospects list, with Profar ranking a few spots ahead of him.

    Burton Guster (Santa Barbra (CA)): Mychal Givens seemed to find a little traction in the NYPL. Is he still a top 20 guy, or are scouts getting bearish?

Will Lingo: There's still a little bit of hope for Givens because he has a strong arm and athleticism, but in general I would say scouts are bearish. He's not in the Top 30.

    Joe R. (Newport News, VA): I know that Bundy, Machado, and to a lesser extent Schoop are potential stars — but I think from a depth standpoint the Orioles may be the worst farm system in the game. Thoughts?

Will Lingo: Worst in the game is a bit strong, but there is a big dropoff from the top guys to the talent after that. Depth is not the system's strong suit. But it's more from a lack of potential high-ceiling guys who may or may not come through. You can find plenty of solid players in the Orioles system, but they're more of the types who are role players or reserves. Not a lot of premium raw tools in the back of the Orioles list.

    Dan (Maine): He missed much of 2011, but did Trent Mummey make the top 30? What kind of upside do you see in him? Thanks.

Will Lingo: Mummey is at the back of the Top 30, though as you mentioned he played in just 29 games last year. As just discussed, the type of guy who profiles more as a fourth outfielder than an everyday contributor. Undersized guy who goes all out all the time, has a good feel for hitting and can play all three outfield positions.

    Halvy (Seattle, WA): Not exactly a prospect question, but what are your thoughts on Brian Matusz at this point? Is he going to be able to put it back together and get back on track?

Will Lingo: I wish I had a good answer on Matusz. We have a feature in the AL East Top 10 issue on the Orioles' efforts to get their pitchers over the hump and into big league success, and as you would guess it talks quite a bit about Matusz. He's saying all the right things heading into 2012, but after last year who knows what to make of him? Based on his previous track record, I'm willing to believe he can get back on track.

    William (Baltimore): Between last year's top 10 and this year's, which one wins out to you and why?

Will Lingo: I guess I would take this year's list because of Bundy. Machado, Avery, Hoes, Klein and Schoop are all holdovers. Then you trade Britton, Pelzer, Givens, Adams and Ryan Berry for Bridwell, Delmonico, Flaherty, Esposito and of course Bundy. Neither group is making me do backflips.

    Bill White (DC): What are the details regarding Klein's surgery? I was a bit surprised to see someone with a history of shoulder issues (initial issues at UCLA, if I'm not mistaken, and now this) making a top ten, without having proved himself post-surgery. In most other cases, I feel like a pitcher is written off as damaged goods until he can show his velo, stuff, feel have bounced back. What's the difference here?

Will Lingo: Yeah, tough call there, but the reports from the surgery were so positive—just a small tear in the labrum and they also loosened up his shoulder capsule from a previous operation—that we gave him the benefit of the doubt. Also based on how well he pitched before the surgery and that he'll be pitching in relief. Top 10 would look better if we had the two Asian pitchers in it, and Avery and Klein pushed out.

    Rick (London): What are your thoughts on Joe Mahoney after the year he had between Bowie and the Fall League?

Will Lingo: Still looks like a solid bat, but he's pretty much limited to first base so he'll have to be even better than that to make an everyday impact. Struggled to stay healthy last year, limited to 323 at-bats because of a strained quad, though he did make up for it some in the AFL. His swing has a tendency to break down at times. He's in the 11-15 range, it'll be interesting to see how he does in Triple-A this year.

    Burton Guster (Santa Barbra (CA)): I was surprised to see the 4th selection in the Rule 5 draft, Ryan Flaherty, crack the top 10, and somewhat shocked that he ranked 7th. Is that ranking an indication of the weakness of the back-end of the Orioles' top 10 list, or do you believe the Cubs made a mistake leaving Flaherty off their 40-man?

Will Lingo: In a perfect world you probably wouldn't have a Rule 5 guy in your Top 10, but Flaherty is much more big league ready than the average Rule 5 pick. He's definitely not the "lottery pick" kind of Rule 5 player. Hard to say if the Cubs made a mistake leaving Flaherty off, but it does seem odd that they usually played him in the middle infield when his skills are much more suited to third base or an outfield corner. I don't see why the Orioles wouldn't give him plenty of at-bats at third this season.

    Zack (Salisbury, MD): I had the pleasure of watching both Machado and Profar playing last year, since I live close to the Shorebirds stadiums. Which of the two do you think has the higher ceiling, and which one do you think has the best shot of staying at SS?

Will Lingo: Quite a few questions regarding Machado v. Profar. Power is probably the only area where you'd grade Machado higher. Profar should be a better hitter and better defender, and he gets exceptionally high marks for his makeup as well (not that Machado has any problems there). Machado is the more likely to move off shortstop. That's why we rate Profar a little bit higher though both are among the best in the game right now.

    Bobby (Limbo): Will, I gotta ask you - how frustrated are you when creating the Orioles' top 30 list all these years, on a scale from 1 to 10?

Will Lingo: A good question to end on. It doesn't really frustrate me because I'm just reporting on it, but I can certainly see how fans would be getting frustrated by now. But hey, it's Jan. 9 and hope springs eternal! Good luck this season and be sure to come back to the BA chat room on Wednesday for a system that will make Orioles fans feel great about the state of their prospects: the White Sox.