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The Orioles have leaned toward pitching at the top of recent drafts and hadn't selected a shortstop in the first round since taking Rich Dauer out of Southern California in 1974, but Machado's talent was too much to pass up. The scouting consensus was that the top three players in the 2010 draft--Bryce Harper, Jameson Taillon and Machado--were a cut above everyone else, so the Orioles were happy to grab their shortstop of the future with the No. 3 overall choice after the Nationals picked Harper and the Pirates selected Taillon. Machado laid the groundwork for going near the top of the draft with his standout showcase performances in 2009, with the highlight coming when he batted .367 to help the U.S. 18-and-under team win the Pan American Junior Championship. He earned BA High School All-America honors as a senior, batting .639 with 12 homers and 17 steals for Brito Miami Private High. Machado gave up a scholarship from Florida International to sign at the Aug. 16 deadline, netting a $5.25 million bonus that's the sixth-highest ever for a high schooler and the second-highest in franchise history, trailing only Matt Wieters' $6 million bonus in the 2007 draft. The Orioles let him get his feet wet with brief assignments in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and at short-season Aberdeen, then brought him to their abbreviated instructional camp in Baltimore in September. The Orioles brought in J.J. Hardy to fill their gaping hole at shortstop, but longterm they had no one in the system to take over the position until signing Machado, who has legitimate five-tool ability. He has a good swing and bat speed. He makes consistent hard contact--he struck out just three times in 36 pro at-bats--and repeatedly puts the barrel on the ball. The ball already carries well off his bat, and he has the room to add muscle to his wiry 6-foot-3 frame. Baltimore believes he can become a .300 hitter with 20 homers a season as he matures. Machado also has the arm, build and strength to be a major league shortstop. He shows advanced defensive skills, with solid range, soft hands and a plus arm. His weakest tool is his speed, but even that rates as fringe average. In addition to his physical ability, Machado has made a quick impression with his makeup, showing a great work ethic and receptiveness to instruction. When working on nuances of shortstop with Orioles instructor Mike Bordick in the fall, such as the footwork on his feeds from shortstop on the double play, he quickly made adjustments and never reverted to his previous habits. He would execute the new skill within two or three ground balls. Machado has all the tools and just needs to play. Because of his build, Dominican bloodlines and hype as a high school shortstop coming out of South Florida, he earns obvious Alex Rodriguez comparisons. He's not as physically mature as Rodriguez was when he came into pro ball, and his ceiling isn't as lofty, but Machado still has the look of a perennial all-star. He'll open his first full season at low Class A Delmarva, and should move quickly through the system if he hits as expected. He could be ready for Baltimore at some point in 2013.
Britton has boosted his stock every year since getting drafted in 2006 and now ranks as one of the best pitching prospects in the minors. In 2010, he aced his Double-A debut, pitched in the Futures Game and finished strong in Triple-A, getting added to the 40-man roster after the season. He led Orioles farmhands in ERA (2.70) while ranking second in wins (10) and strikeouts (124). Britton has the best sinker in the minor leagues and generated a 2.8 groundout/airout ratio last season. Showing more than just good action, his fastball sits in the low 90s and peaks at 94 mph. His slider is also a plus pitch, though at he times throws it too hard while trying to get more break out of it. His changeup has developed to the point where he's willing to throw it behind in the count and use it to get quick outs rather than strikeouts. Britton showed his best stuff more consistently in 2010. He does a good job of spotting all of his pitches within the strike zone. The Orioles liked how Britton refined his arsenal and came after hitters with a plan rather than just overpowering them with his sinker. He'll probably return to Triple-A Norfolk at the start out of 2011, but it's not out of question that he could pitch his way into the big league rotation.
The Orioles knew Avery was a development project when they signed him away from a Georgia football scholarship for $900,000 in 2008. He started to translate his tools into performance in 2010, reaching Double-A as a 20-year-old. A premium athlete, Avery stands out most with his well above-average speed. It already translates into plus defense in center field even though he's polishing his routes and instincts. He's learning the nuances of basestealing as well, and went 10-for-10 stealing bases at Double-A Bowie. Avery batted leadoff all season and knows his game is to put the ball in play and put pressure on the defense. He showed better plate discipline and pitch recognition in 2010. He still struggles against breaking stuff, however, and particularly against lefhanders, batting .193 against them. He's strong enough to sting the ball on occasion but will never be a power hitter. His arm has improved, though it still rates as fringe-average. He gets by on his pure tools more often than not, but he has a thirst for instruction and is making up his deficiencies in baseball polish. Avery has made progress but still has refinements to make to become a consistent hitter. He'll return to Double-A to open 2011.
Hoes was in the midst of a breakout season at high Class A Frederick, batting .310/.435/.416 in mid-May, when he developed a case of mononucleosis that knocked him out for more than a month. He didn't hit with the same authority when he returned to action at the end of June, as the mono seemed to sap his strength for the rest of the season. With great balance at the plate and good command of the strike zone, Hoes is going to hit. He has quick hands and uses the middle of the field, projecting as a .300 hitter with gap power and average speed. A pitcher and outfielder in high school, he's still working on the nuances of playing second base. He has average actions and defensive tools, and he improved his fielding percentage from .939 in 2009 to .967 last season. Third base and left field are other possibilities, though his bat wouldn't profile nearly as well there. The Orioles are pleased with Hoes' progress and think he could be poised to consider his breakout in 2011. He'll probably spend the season in Double-A after finishing 2010 there.
The Orioles took Klein, who was also a standout quarterback in high school in southern California, in the 24th round of the 2007 draft. He also had football scholarship options, but he opted to attend UCLA to play baseball instead. He missed the 2009 season after shoulder surgery but returned to be the closer for the Bruins' College World Series runners-up last spring. He signed for a slightly over-slot $499,900 as a third-round pick. Though Klein worked as a closer at UCLA and in his pro debut, Baltimore likes his big, strong frame and ability to throw four pitches for strikes, so they will try to develop him as a starter. He isn't overpowering but has an easy delivery and consistently throws his fastball at 91-93 mph with good life. His changeup is his second-best pitch, and it and his curveball already rate as the best in the system. He also uses a slider as another breaking pitch option. Klein throws strikes and commands his pitches well within the strike zone. Because of Klein's limited college workload, the Orioles will use him carefully in 2011. He's advanced enough to handle a jump to high Class A. His ceiling is as a No. 3 starter, and it also could be tempting to move him quickly to the big leagues as a set-up man.
Miguel Tejada certainly didn't figure into the Orioles' future, and they got a solid return for him at the trade deadline by sending him to the Padres for Pelzer. Pelzer had spent his pro career as a starter until San Diego moved him to the bullpen two weeks before the deal. He continued in that role at Bowie. Pelzer offers a potent fastball/slider combination, but he never dominated as a starter because he couldn't find a consistent third pitch and his delivery didn't allow him to establish reliable command. He throws both two-seam and four-seam fastballs, sitting at 91-94 mph and touching 97 with good life. His slider is at least major league average and shows flashes of becoming a true plus pitch. He has used both a changeup and splitter but never has embraced either. His delivery can get out of sync, causing him to miss up in the strike zone. The Orioles are still open to trying Pelzer as a starter, but focusing on his two best pitches will give him the opportunity to pitch at the back of a bullpen. While his landing spot out of spring training will depend on his performance as well as his role, he should reach Triple-A at some point during 2011.
Givens signed too late to play in his first summer, so he stayed in extended spring training before reporting to Delmarva at the end of May. Just seven games into his season, he ruptured a tendon in his left thumb sliding into first base, essentially turning 2010 into a lost year. Givens has a quiet approach at the plate, and his bat takes a short path to the ball and generates sharp contact. He should offer gap power, with the ability to hit 15 homers annually, though he'll need a lot of at-bats to refine his swing. He has middle-infield skills with solid-average range, a plus arm and good hands. Some clubs liked him more as a pitcher after clocking him up to 97 mph in high school. He has solid speed but won't be a big basestealing threat. Givens' injury cost him a year of development and created a jumble in the organzation's middle-infield depth chart. The Orioles want Manny Machado to play shortstop at Delmarva, but it may be a reach to send Givens to Frederick given his limited experience. He could end up playing second base across from Machado.
Adams has had an up-and-down ride through the organization, balancing his offensive potential with injuries and questions about his approach. He hit a low point in 2009, missing two months with a groin injury and then getting suspended for disciplinary reasons for the final two weeks. He turned things around in 2010, making the Eastern League all-star team and leading the circuit in hits (158), doubles (43) and extra-base hits (58). Adams squares the ball up more consistently than any other hitter in the system, but he still hasn't found a position where he's serviceable. While he doesn't have great bat speed, he has a compact swing and gap power. He has improved his flexibility after bulking up too much when he entered pro ball, but he's still a belowaverage runner. He has a quick first step and decent defensive tools, but he's erratic at both second and third base. Some club officials think the faster action at the hot corner keeps him more focused. Adams is blocked by Brian Roberts at second base and Mark Reynolds and Josh Bell at third base. He'll go to spring training looking to win a job in Triple-A.
Berry was pitching himself into first-round consideration for the 2009 draft before straining his shoulder that spring at Rice. He fell to the ninth round and signed late in the summer for $417,600, though he didn't see his first pro action until 2010. He looked strong all season, quickly reaching high Class A, and the Orioles put him in the bullpen in late July to keep his innings down. Berry works quickly and throws strikes, coming after hitters with four pitches. His fastball, which usually ranges from 87-90 mph, plays above its below-average velocity because it has good life. His best pitch is a knuckle-curve with 12-to-6 break, and he also throws a more slurvy breaking ball. His changeup should be an average pitch. Berry gets in trouble when his fastball loses its sink. Because he lacks a putaway pitch, he has to be sharp with his command. His herky-jerky delivery gives him deception without detracting from his ability to find the strike zone. He'll have to prove himself at every level because he lacks overpowering stuff. He profiles as a back-of-the-rotation option who could be a useful bullpen arm if starting doesn't work out. He'll move up to Double-A to open 2011.
After Schoop made his pro debut in 2009, he came Stateside and worked with Gulf Coast League hitting coach Milt May in extended spring training to refine his swing and approach. He earned a quick promotion from the GCL and hit the last homer in Bluefield Orioles history. Schoop was the most improved player in the system in 2010. He improved his bat speed and showed an ability to hit for average and spray the ball around the field, though he still has holes and is seeking his ideal swing mechanics. His gangly frame has started to fill out, and he could develop average home run power as he gets stronger. Schoop has good defensive instincts at shortstop, with agility, soft hands and a strong arm. His speed also got a boost as he improved his body control, though he'll be just an average runner. He's ready for full-season ball, though he may not have a spot to play at Delmarva if the Orioles send Manny Machado and Mychal Givens there. Schoop is built similarly to Machado but projects to be bigger and stronger, which could mean a move to third base or the outfield.
Mahoney seemingly came out of nowhere in 2010, earning honors as the Orioles' minor league player of the year, but in reality his emergence had been years in the making. He showed good power in college at Richmond but remade his swing in pro ball, improving his balance, getting his hands in better position and becoming less stiff. Since the 2008 season, when he endured a torn quadriceps, he has lost more than 40 pounds and now shows fringe-average speed. Mahoney is a contact-oriented hitter with good command of the strike zone. He shows raw power in batting practice and is working to tap into it in games. Some scouts think his stroke remains too stiff to succeed against major league pitching. Mahoney has become a solid defender at first base and will get more time in the outfield this season to increase his versatility. He has an average arm. He left winter ball in Venezuela after one game with a sprained right wrist, and then doctors found a meniscus tear in his right knee, requiring arthroscopic surgery in October. He may return to Bowie to open the season and will have to prove 2010 year wasn't a fluke, but Baltimore showed it believes in him by adding him to the 40-man roster.
Though he was known better as a football prospect coming out of high school in Texas, Bridwell's lifelong dream had been to play professional baseball. He was a quarterback in high school (and played basketball as well), throwing for 4,789 yards and 36 touchdowns in his career, with 10 rushing TDs. He drew football recruiting interest before accepting a baseball scholarship from Texas Tech, but then Baltimore took him in the ninth round and signed him for an above-slot $625,000 bonus. Bridwell has an ideal pitcher's frame with a lanky, athletic build that offers lots of room for projection. He already can dial his fastball into the low 90s, touching 94. The ball jumps out of his hand and his pitches all show good life. He throws both a curveball and slider. He's developing a changeup, which he rarely threw in high school. His command will need polish, and he'll require lots of innings because of his limited baseball experience. He'll try to win a spot in the low Class A rotation this year.
In his last at-bat of spring training last year, Angle broke the hamate bone in his right hand. He had the bone removed and reported to Double-A in mid-May, hitting just as well as he had the year before and earning a promotion to Triple-A. Angle is a gamer whose biggest asset is his defense. He's an above-average center fielder, with legitimate speed for the position and an above-average arm. His speed plays on the bases as well. Angle is a solid hitter who is fundamentally sound at the plate and can lay down a bunt when needed. He shows good feel for the strike zone and makes consistent contact with a line-drive stroke. He has virtually no power, so he has to accentuate the other aspects of his game. Because he doesn't have a truly standout tool, most scouts see Angle as a fourth or fifth outfielder, but he's the kind of player managers love to have at their disposal. Added to the 40-man roster in November, he'll open 2011 back at Norfolk and could find a spot in the big leagues if he continues to hit.
Bundy rewrote the record book at Sperry (Okla.) High, and now his brother Dylan is one of the top high school pitchers in the 2011 draft class--though he now attends Oklahoma powerhouse Owasso High. The two played together in Bobby's senior year in 2008, though Bobby missed part of the season with a knee injury sustained during basketball season. Signed for $600,000 after falling to the eighth round, he got off to a slow start in pro ball because he got out of shape after his knee injury. The Orioles moved him to bullpen to open 2010, but he pitched himself into the Delmarva rotation in May. Bundy is built to eat innings, with a strong, sturdy frame and a fastball that he can dial up to the mid-90s. He more frequently pitches at 88-92 mph with good sink. He throws both a curveball and slider, using the latter more frequently in 2010, but both pitches need to be tightened up. His changeup shows promise, flashing above-average potential. Bundy has a long arm action and will have to clean up his delivery, and he doesn't throw enough quality strikes. He'll open the 2011 season at age 21 in the Frederick rotation.
It would be harder to have a less auspicious full-season debut than Hobgood had, after the Orioles made him the No. 5 overall pick and the first high school pitcher selected in the 2009 draft. He signed for a slightly belowslot bonus of $2.422 million. Hobgood came to spring training last year out of shape and never showed the stuff he had the previous spring, when he dominated prep competition with a mid-90s fastball with sink. At times his fastball sat at 87-89 mph, and he showed a slurvy breaking ball and poor command. He was overweight and had mild tendinitis in his shoulder, so the Orioles shut him down for a few weeks in June and again in August as a precaution. At his best, Hobgood will have a low-90s fastball and an above-average curveball with tight break. His changeup is a work in progress, as he slows his arm when he throws it, but he does throw it for strikes. He needs to work on his command and establish his fastball first. Baltimore doesn't question Hobgood's work ethic and just thinks he needs to learn how to take better care of himself. To that end, they sent him to Athletes' Performance in California to get in better shape. Hobgood will get a do-over for 2010, but it will be important for him to come out of the gates strong from the beginning of spring training this year.
Auburn was counting on Mummey in the middle of its lineup in 2010, but he sustained a high ankle sprain in an intrasquad workout and missed the first half of the regular season. He swung a hot bat when he returned, batting .366 with 17 home runs in 153 at-bats, and the Tigers made it to the NCAA playoffs for the first time since 2005. The Orioles signed him for $252,000 in the fourth round and compare him to Matt Angle as an athletic gamer who can hold down center field. Mummey has more power than Angle, though his best pure tool is his plus speed, which allows him to steal bases and should make him a quality defender as well. He also has a strong arm. Mummey has a simple swing and should be an average hitter, though he'll need to improve his pitch recognition. The intrigue comes with how much power he'll develop. He's not going to be a masher, but if he has average power to go with his defense and speed he could develop into a poor man's Lenny Dykstra. Mummey showed power and speed with wood bats in the Cape Cod League in 2009, so Baltimore hopes to see a similar package in his first full pro season. He should open 2011 in low Class A.
Narron has deep baseball bloodlines. His father Jerry is the best-known member of the family, having played and managed in the major leagues, but his uncle Johnny is also a longtime minor league player and coach who's currently a special-assignment coach with the Rangers. His great-uncle Sam was a big league catcher with the Cardinals; Sam's son Rooster was a minor league catcher; and Rooster's son Sam is a lefthander who spent 2010 in the Brewers system and has reached the majors. So it probably shouldn't have been a surprise that Narron took the Orioles' $650,000 bonus offer as a fifth-round pick in 2010, passing up a scholarship to North Carolina. His father's time in major league dugouts gave Narron ample exposure to the professional game, including serving as a batboy, and he was a four-year starter in high school, leading Aycock High (Pikeville, N.C.) to a state championship in 2007. Narron's best tool is his bat, as he's a switch-hitter with pop from both sides of the plate. Some scouts like his swing better from the right side, though he may have better bat speed lefthanded. He's lean and lanky and played shortstop in high school, but third base will be his position as a pro. He started the move there toward the end of his pro debut. He has good hands and arm strength, as well as average speed. Some amateur scouts thought Narron showed a big league attitude in high school, but Baltimore has seen none of that and likes his work ethic. He'll get an opportunity to break camp with Delmarva as a teenager in his first full pro season.
The Orioles love what they have seen of Townsend. The problem is that they just haven't seen enough. Townsend had a left wrist injury that limited him after he signed as a third-round pick, and then he pulled his hamstring in spring training in 2010. The hamstring injury bothered him all season, so the Orioles sent him to the Arizona Fall League--and he had to leave after one game to have a cyst removed from his hand. Townsend shot up draft boards with an MVP performance in the Shenandoah Valley League in the summer of 2008, followed by a .434/.512/.858 performance with 24 home runs at Florida International. He has shown the same smooth, lefthanded stroke as a professional, with a swing and set-up that have drawn comparisons to Mark Grace. He should have more power than Grace did. Townsend played mostly in the outfield in college, but because he's a below-average runner with an average arm, Baltimore moved him to first base. He should be an average defender in time. Townsend may return to high Class A to start 2011, but the Orioles believe he'll move quickly if he can stay healthy.
Welty has made the postseason league all-star teams in each of his three seasons, but it was only when he added power in 2010 that more scouts started to take notice. Welty has added 30 pounds to his gangly frame since high school in Arizona and tapped into his power potential. He's aggressive and confident at the plate and can handle just about any fastball. He has good leverage in his swing and uses the middle of the field. He generates far too many swings and misses, however, particularly against breaking balls and pitches on the outer half, and he has a tendency to expand his strike zone. Welty has improved as a right fielder and rates as a solid-average defender with enough arm for the position. He's a slightly below-average runner. Before 2010 Welty looked like a tweener outfielder, but if his power continues to grow he could be more. The key will be maintaining his power without striking out so much, which will be a big challenge against Double-A pitching this year.
The Orioles hoped Snyder would seize their first-base job in 2010, but injuries and poor performance kept that from happening. The son of former big leaguer Brian Snyder, Brandon signed for $1.7 million in 2005 and made his major league debut as a September callup last season. He missed five weeks with a back injury and pressed when he did play, causing him to slump. At his best, Snyder shows a smooth swing with good hands that allow him to take the ball to all fields, which should allow him to be a .300 hitter. He doesn't have prototypical power for first base but should be able to hit 15-20 homers a season. He got himself in trouble last year by getting too aggressive and putting himself in bad counts. Snyder has significantly improved at first base since moving from behind the plate and now is an average defender, with plenty of arm for the position. He's a slightly below-average runner. The Orioles will make Snyder earn his spot in the big leagues, so he will return to Triple-A to open 2011.
Lebron had positioned himself for a spot in the major league bullpen last season, but he felt elbow discomfort late in spring training, was shut down for a few weeks and had to cut short a bullpen session in early May. He had Tommy John surgery and missed the entire year. When healthy, he's a legitimate power arm out of the bullpen, pairing a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and touches 97 with a plus slider. He gained confidence in his changeup in the last couple of seasons, making it a useful third option. Lebron has legitimate swing-and-miss stuff, though he can still tighten up his command. The Orioles hope he can follow the path of Alfredo Simon, who had Tommy John surgery in May 2009 and was closing games by April 2010. Lebron will come to spring training just looking to work himself back into pitching shape, and he'll move as quickly as his arm will allow.
A standout three-sport athlete as an Oklahoma high schooler, Henson gave shortstop and third base a shot in his first four years in the organization, then moved to left field last year and held his own against Double-A pitching. Henson remains athletic and has gotten bigger and stronger since he was drafted, but he's more steady than flashy. He has good bat speed and seldom gets beat in the strike zone, showing the ability to hit to all fields. He should have average power but tries to pull the ball too much. He'll have to cut down on his strikeouts to advance, and he's susceptible to chasing breaking balls out of the zone. Henson should be at least an average defender in left field, with solid-average speed and arm strength. He takes good routes and gets good jumps on balls. Unless he adds more power he isn't an ideal corner outfield profile, but his versatility still could win him a major league bench role. He'll have a big opportunity to prove himself in Triple-A.
Waring has hit 49 homers in two seasons since coming over from the Reds (along with Justin Turner and Ryan Freel) in a trade for Ramon Hernandez in December 2008. Waring's calling card is his above-average power, and he has the ability to drive the ball to all fields as well as the strength to drive it deep. He's confident and aggressive at the plate, but he doesn't adjust his approach to hit for average. He continues to work on pitch selection, though he'll always pile up large strikeout numbers. The bigger impediment toward Waring claiming a big league role is finding him a defensive home. He split time between third base, first base, left field and DH in 2010, seeing most of his action at the hot corner. He has an average arm and surprising quickness and agility for his size, but most scouts don't think he can hold down third base on an everyday basis. He's a below-average runner. Waring should get an opportunity to play every day in Triple-A this season, though his long-term role is most likely as a power bat off the bench.
Spoone went down with a shoulder injury and had surgery to repair a small tear in his labrum after the 2008 season and pitched sparingly in 2009 as he worked his arm back into shape. He pitched 132 innings last year, finding his mechanics and getting comfortable with his pitches again, though he had an eight-start stretch in the middle of the season when he allowed just nine earned runs in 49 innings. At his best, Spoone has a fastball that ranges from 88-92 mph with life and touches a few ticks higher. At times, his power curveball is his most effective pitch. His changeup has improved and shows good sink, and he's comfortable throwing it in any count. His command is still coming back, though it never was his strong suit. Spoone had electric stuff when he first emerged as a prospect but he didn't show it very often last year, so some scouts think he'd be better off as a reliever. Baltimore will keep him as a starter for now, and he'll try to win a rotation spot in Triple-A during spring training.
Gamboa has grown accustomed to being overlooked. He played basketball and soccer in high school before focusing on baseball, and UC Davis was his only Division I scholarship offer. Gamboa had Tommy John surgery in 2006 and entered pro ball as a fifth-year senior who signed for $1,000 in 2008. He was so effective working out of the bullpen in Double-A in 2010 that he got a chance in the rotation in the second half, going 4-1, 3.98 in 11 starts. He attacks hitters with a fastball, cutter and changeup, and he gives them different looks by varying his arm angle. His fastball ranges from 88-91 mph with good sink, generating a lot of groundballs. His cutter is probably his second-best pitch, and his changeup also shows good sink. He throws a slider on occasion, but he lacks confidence in it. Gamboa throws strikes and is working on his command in the zone, as he has a tendency to nibble. He's a good athlete and should be able to handle a starter's workload. Gamboa's arsenal doesn't leave a lot of margin for error, but he has been effective with it and will compete for a spot in the Norfolk rotation this year.
Miclat signed for an over-slot bonus of $225,000 in 2008 even though he had battled shoulder and arm injuries in his last two seasons at Virginia. Overcoming a broken nose in April and a sprained foot in May, he ranked fourth in the high Class A Carolina League last season in on-base percentage (.403) when he earned a promotion to Bowie. He struggled against Double-A pitching, but finished the year on a high note with a .308/.390/.385 performance in the Arizona Fall League. Defense remains Miclat's calling card, as he makes all the routine plays even though he doesn't have pure shortstop actions. He's an above-average runner with good range, and he uses his speed well on the bases. His arm is average now and may be a bit short for plays deep in the hole, with most of his errors being a result of errant throws. Miclat is a slap hitter who uses the whole field, and his offensive success is predicated on plate discipline. In Double-A, he looked overmatched at times and piled up too many strikeouts. His power is well below-average. The Orioles have worked Miclat out at second base, and he profiles as a utilityman who can play both middle-infield positions. He'll go back to Double-A to open the season
The Orioles were counting on Erbe to be part of the wave of young pitching that has surged into Baltimore, but he had a disastrous 2010 season. He went 0-10, 5.74 before the Orioles shut him down, and then had surgery in August to repair a torn labrum. Before his injury, Erbe had been held back by his inability to develop an effective secondary pitch to complement his fastball. He works in the low 90s, touching 94 mph with good life. But advanced hitters have teed off on his below-average slider. His changeup is a fringy pitch as well. Erbe battled his mechanics, leading to inconsistent command and ultimately his injury. The hope is that he'll come out of his rehab with a cleaner delivery. He started a throwing program in December, and the Orioles are optimistic he will bounce back like Chorye Spoone and Jim Hoey have after similar procedures. The optimistic view is that he'll be ready by spring training, but he probably won't return to game action until May or June.
Joseph emerged in 2009 with a solid year in high Class A, but he gave that progress back in Double-A last year. He struggled both at the plate and behind it, and his problems were exacerbated when he injured his shoulder in late July in a home-plate collision with 225-pound Giants outfielder Thomas Neal. The Orioles sent him to the Arizona Fall League, where he went 16-for-41 (.390), but as a taxi squad member his emphasis was on instruction. At the plate, he worked on letting the ball travel deeper and hitting to right field more consistently. Behind the plate, he focused on his footwork and getting a wider base in order to improve his throwing and blocking skills. Joseph's defense grades higher than his offense anyway, and the adjustments should solidify him as an average defender with a solid-average arm. He threw out 26 percent of basestealers in 2010. Joseph's bat will determine whether he can be more than a backup. He's a bit lean for a catcher, and his lack of strength hurts him offensively. He has below-average power, so he'll have to hit for better average. He's a below-average runner but not bad for a catcher. Joseph has played a few games at first base and in the outfield, but Baltimore still sees him as a catcher. He'll go back to Double-A to try to get himself back on track this season.
Florimon played his way on to the 40-man roster in 2009, but couldn't build on his progress with the bat, hitting .183 in two months at Bowie before a strained left oblique knocked him out of action for a month. After a rehab stint at Aberdeen, Florimon got himself back on track at Frederick. A switch-hitter, he has learned to use the whole field and improved his two-strike approach late in the season. He has a little bit of pop, particularly from the right side. He has an aggressive approach, leading him to strike out too much for a player with his offensive profile. He makes better contact from the left side. He's a solid-average runner but not a huge basestealing threat. Tall and athletic, Florimon has flashy defensive skills, showing soft hands, good range and a strong arm. His arm can be erratic and he still has a tendency to botch routine plays, piling up 27 errors in 103 games at short last year. The question is whether Florimon can hit advanced pitching, and so far he hasn't. He remains on the 40-man roster, however, and will give Double-A another shot in 2011.
The Orioles lost two relievers in the 2010 major league Rule 5 draft--Pat Egan and Pedro Beato--but think they found a pitcher with more upside when they took Rosario from the Brewers. He hasn't played above low Class A, so it will be a challenge for him to stick in the big leagues. Rosario has a low-90s fastball and backs it up with a plus changeup that falls off the table. That's what gets scouts interested, but it's also about all he has at this point. He lacks a reliable breaking ball and struggles with the command of all of his pitches. He needs to become more confident and aggressive on the mound. At some point he could become a major league set-up man, but not this year. The Orioles will have to stash Rosario as the 25th man on their roster and use him sparingly. If they can't keep him on the major league roster, he'll have to clear waivers and be offered back to Milwaukee.
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