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Midseason Prospect Update: Orioles

The Midseason Top 10 Prospect lists are compiled from conversations with front office officials and scouts from all 30 teams. Players who have exhausted prospect eligibility or were in the Major Leagues as of June 22 are not eligible. Draftees from the 2016 draft and July 2, 2016 signees are also not eligible. SEE ALSO: Midseason Top 100
In a bit of a surprise, the Orioles entered the all-star break on top of the American League East with a 51-36 record and a two-game edge over the Red Sox. To do so, they’ve mashed the ball.
C Chance Sisco
1B Chris Davis
2B Jonathan Schoop
3B Manny Machado
SS Ryan Mountcastle
LF Joey Rickard
CF Adam Jones
RF Hyun Soo Kim
DH Mark Trumbo
No. 1 Starter Kevin Gausman
No. 2 Starter Chris Tillman
No. 3 Starter Dylan Bundy
No. 4 Starter Hunter Harvey
No. 5 Starter Chris Lee
Closer Zach Britton
Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis had combined for 50 home runs at the break, and the Orioles led baseball with 137 longballs. Their .800 OPS as a team was second only to the Red Sox. At 28 years old, righthander Chris Tillman put together a sparkling first half as well. He’s 12-2, 3.41 at the break with a team-best 98 punchouts. If general manager Dan Duquette wants to buoy his club for a deep postseason run, however, its moribund farm system might provide a bit of a roadblock. Righthander Hunter Harvey, their prospect with the highest upside, has spent most of his career injured and is pitching in the lowest rungs of the minors after recovering from offseason surgery to repair a sports hernia. The system’s highest riser over the past two seasons has been catcher Chance Sisco, who is hitting very well as a 21-year-old in Double-A and showed off power at this year’s Futures Game with an opposite-field home run at San Diego’s Petco Park. He’s still got a bit of work to do behind the plate, but he’s improved and the market for even average offensive catchers is always open. Of course, with Matt Wieters a pending free agent, Sisco may be more valuable to the O's as his longterm replacement than as a trade chip. Beyond Sisco and Harvey, the Orioles could offer hard-throwing lefthander Tanner Scott or infielder Jomar Reyes, a hulking youngster with raw power that rates at 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. Trumbo, Davis, Tillman and superstar third baseman/shortstop Manny Machado have boosted the Birds into postseason contention, but it might take a little work to acquire the additions to keep them there through the second half.
MIDSEASON TOP 10 1. Chance Sisco, c Being a 21-year-old in Double-A is always a challenge. After a cameo in the Eastern League last year, Sisco returned this season and has thrived. He’s among the purest hitters in the minor leagues, with a .326 career average, and has shown the ability to make consistent contact without many strikeouts. His .394 on-base percentage is tied for second in the EL. He doesn’t hit for much power right now, but his opposite-field shot at Petco Park in the Futures Game hinted at his raw pop. He’s improved behind the plate, too, and has made mechanical adjustments to assist his footwork when he gets set to throw to second.
2. Hunter Harvey, rhp Harvey did return to the mound this summer, but it was a brief stay. Harvey had surgery this past offseason to correct a sports hernia and got back on the mound for games in June. His three-pitch mix looked as dynamic as ever, but he was pulled from his July 16 start for short-season Aberdeen after 1 1/3 innings, and he's having his elbow examined.
3. Jomar Reyes, 3b Reyes’ power is among the best in the system, grading as a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. His numbers aren’t the prettiest, but the Orioles say he’s been giving them the competitive at-bats they seek. He’s got a big arm at third base, but his size may mean a move to first in the future.
4. Ryan Mountcastle, ss The Orioles' second draft pick in 2015, Mountcastle has performed well in his first taste of full-season ball. He’s shown both average and power, and scouts who have seen him buy the bat. There are question marks surrounding his defense, with some evaluators questioning with his arm will be strong enough to stick at shortstop in the long-term.
5. Tanner Scott, lhp A lefthander with big velocity will always be in demand, and Scott fits that bill perfectly. He couples a fastball that can reach triple digits with an above-average slider. There are control issues to iron out, but he has the ingredients to be an impact reliever.
6. Trey Mancini, 1b After tearing up Double-A in a return there to start this season, Mancini moved to Triple-A and continues to put up numbers. He’s improved his defense to make evaluators he could hold down first base adequately. With Chris Davis in Baltimore, his future might be elsewhere, though.
7. Chris Lee, lhp A lefthander acquired from the Astros, Lee is currently on the disabled list with a lat strain. When healthy, he combines a fastball that can reach into the mid-90s with a slider and changeup that he throws for strikes. He projects to have a ceiling of a No. 3 starter.
8. Garrett Cleavinger, lhp A closer at Oregon, the Orioles have stretched Cleavinger out for multiple innings in an attempt to further develop his offspeed offerings, particularly a seldom-used changeup. His primary weapons are a low-90s fastball with sink and tail and a two-plane curveball, helping him earn a promotion to high Class A.
9. Ofelky Peralta, rhp The Orioles are high on Peralta, a 19-year-old with a big body and a fastball that can sit in the mid-90s. He has a changeup that is average now and a curveball that needs to develop further. His command also remains raw, but he's taken every turn in low Class A.
10. Jonah Heim, c The best defensive catcher in the system, Heim has required patience, as the Orioles have waited for him to gain strength. That, combined with his contact ability, should help his offense as he moves up the ladder.
RISING Righthander Matthew Grimes has shown improved velocity two years off of Tommy John surgery. He sits in the low-90s and can touch 94-95 mph. He was recently promoted to Double-A Bowie . . . Catcher/first baseman Alex Murphy, strong-bodied at 5-foot-11, 210 pounds, has work to do defensively but has 14 home runs to rank fourth in the SAL.
FALLING Outfielder D.J. Stewart, a first-round pick just a year ago, has struggled offensively while alternating between the squat stance he employed in college and the more upright version the Orioles would prefer . . . Outfielder Josh Hart, repeating a level at high Class A, has hit less than .200 and has just five stolen bases after swiping 30 bags last year.
HURTING Lee has been shelved with a strained lat muscle and hasn’t pitched since May 23. He’s moving toward a rehab assignment, however . . . Righthander Harvey, who had sports hernia surgery in the offseason, is having his elbow examined by Dr. James Andrews after he left a start with arm soreness. . . Righty Parker Bridwell missed nearly two months with a broken rib.
GRADUATING Baltimore has gotten bang for its buck from several rookies. Righthander Dylan Bundy, the team’s No. 1 prospect entering the season, was out of options and earned a spot in the team’s bullpen, and looks to be moving into the rotation . . . Righthander Mychal Givens has also been one of Baltimore’s bullpen stalwarts this season, while righty Tyler Wilson has eaten some back-of-the-rotation innings . . . Outfielder Hyun Soo Kim, whom the team attempted to send to the minors out of spring training, has been a pleasant surprise . . . Outfielder Joey Rickard, the team’s Rule 5 pick from Tampa Bay, has slugged five homers in earning an everyday role.
COMING ABOARD (Check Draft Database for all picks) The Orioles' first five picks of the 2016 draft. (s-supplemental round) Cody Sedlock, rhp, Illinois. Thrust into the Friday starter’s role at Illinois after Tyler Jay and Kevin Duchene were high drafts in 2015, Sedlock this year showed improvement across the board. He starts his mix with a low-to-mid-90s sinker and complements with two potentially above-average breaking balls and an average changeup. Keegan Akin, lhp, Western Michigan. A smaller lefthander, Akin’s primary draw is a fastball that sits around 92-94 mph and has touched as high as 97. He also throws an average slider and a changeup that can be average as well. Matthias Dietz, rhp, John A. Logan (Ill.) JC. Dietz’s fastball—and thus his draft profile—jumped this year when his fastball started touching the mid-90s. He grew a bit between his junior and senior years of high school, which explained the uptick in stuff. His offspeed pitches need work, but his slider has a chance to be average. Austin Hays, of, Jacksonville. After transferring to Jacksonville from Seminole State (Fla.) JC, Hays proved his offense would translate against a higher caliber of pitching. He showed excellent contact skills and started hot in pro ball. Brenan Hanifee, rhp

Ryan Mountcastle Makes Shift To Left Field

The Orioles are hoping they've found a permanent home for the 2019 International League MVP.

, Turner Ashby HS, Bridgewater, Va. A four-sport player in high school, Hanifee jumped up draft boards when he started touching 93 with his fastball. He’s an athletic righthander with room to fill out, so the Orioles can dream on him a bit.

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