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Track Record: An impressive prospect as a teenager in Cuba, Diaz, signed with the Dodgers for $15.5 million after the 2015 season. He began 2018 with Double-A Tulsa, put together a strong first half, and was fresh off a two-homer performance at the Futures Game in July when the Orioles made him the centerpiece of the Manny Machado trade. Diaz overdid it a bit trying to show he was worthy of that distinction at Double-A Bowie, but his low batting average did little to dampen expectations.
Scouting Report: Diaz has a pretty well-rounded skill set, but the Orioles are working to continue the refinements he was making as a Dodger. He has fast hands and all-fields power, but is working to iron out his lower half. The Orioles observed that his back foot was pointed at the umpire; others saw his front half causing him to pull his hands through to quickly, taking away the opposite-field power that comes naturally to him. His ability to rein his swing in and hit the ball the other way late in counts, plus Diaz’s ability to work a walk, indicate a strong approach that should allow him to continue to post high on-base percentages. He’s proven capable of making adjustments both with the Dodgers and with the Orioles, and must realize that his bat speed and strength will supply plenty of power as he matures. He doesn’t need to rush and get pull-happy to create holes in his swing. Defensively, Diaz showed the Orioles he can handle all three outfield positions, with enough range for center field but an arm that fits in right. His twitchy athleticism allows for plenty of projection to add to his above-average speed, but his career 44.4 percent stolen base rate shows he has work to do to turn his speed into an offensive weapon.
The Future: In terms of ceiling and present pedigree, Diaz is a peerless talent among position players in the Orioles’ system. He’s the closest thing to an everyday impact player that the farm system boasts, and even if he doesn’t show his entire range of skills immediately upon his arrival to the majors—which could be as soon as early 2019—Diaz is the type of player who will contribute enough to stick and grow into an above-average everyday player. He may push for a roster spot out of spring training, but with several other young outfielders on the roster already, Diaz may have to wait his turn at Triple-A Norfolk.
Track Record: Hall was touted as perhaps the premier prep lefthander in the 2017 draft, and the Orioles were thrilled when he fell to the 21st pick. After bypassing a Florida State commitment for $3 million, he has lived up to expectations so far. After struggling some with his delivery upon his debut in 2017, Hall turned in a full, healthy season in 2018.
Scouting Report: Hall got better as the season went on for low Class A Delmarva, and held his fastball velocity throughout the season, topping out at 97 mph and sitting 92-95 mph from an effortless, balanced delivery with excellent arm speed. His changeup, which came into the season as a below-average pitch, improved significantly and joins his fastball and breaking ball as future plus pitches. Hall learned to pitch without his best stuff at times in 2018, and his mental development with his natural athleticism bode well for the future.
The Future: Hall’s early success and health put him in position to break the Orioles’ developmental struggles when it comes to high school pitchers. He projects as a mid-rotation starter at worst, with the only caveat that he needs to stay healthy. He’ll get a chance to do that at high Class A Frederick in 2019.
Track Record: It’s fitting that the Orioles’ compensatory pick for losing Nelson Cruz to free agency after the 2014 season resulted in another pure hitter. Mountcastle won the Carolina League batting title in 2017, and showed few ill effects from a fractured wrist once he settled in at Double-A Bowie.
Scouting Report: Mountcastle’s fluid hands and developed frame make him a hitter with power, not the other way around. Both can be plus skills going forward, and he’ll need every bit of his bat to boost a defensive profile that’s below-average anywhere on the diamond. Even with improvement at third base, where he moved in 2017, Mountcastle remains well below-average there and projects to left field or first base. Even there he wouldn’t be additive defensively thanks largely to a well below-average arm.
The Future: Mountcastle’s bat will make him an everyday big leaguer, but his value will be tied to where he plays. The farther down the defensive spectrum he goes—and scouts believe his arm would be a liability even in left field—the more pressure he’ll have on the bat. He can hit his way into the major league conversation in 2019 from Triple-A Norfolk.
Track Record: Hays became the first member of the 2016 draft class to make the majors in 2017, establishing himself as the Orioles’ top prospect in the process. But his candidacy to win the starting right field job never took off in 2018 after spring shoulder soreness. He scuffled upon his return to Double-A Bowie and missed two months with a stress fracture in his ankle. He bounced back with a solid August but had surgery in September.
Scouting Report: Hays got away from his all-fields approach, appearing to sell out for pull power and get through the zone too quickly. His naturally quick hands and solid approach allow him to catch up to heat and recognize spin, but he only did that in August when he closed off his stance. When his above-average power is a symptom of his fluid, adaptable swing instead of the end goal, Hays has an above-average hit tool. His plus arm projects best in right, but he can also play center.
The Future: Hays hit the reset button once he returned in August and showed his immense talent and everyday outfield ceiling was still in there. He’ll get another crack at the Opening Day roster in what’s expect to be a crowded outfield.
Track Record: Rodriguez pitched his way into the first round of the 2018 draft after transforming his body by adding 20 pounds of muscle and reworking his delivery to use his strapping frame last winter. That made him the biggest pop-up name in the draft, and led the Orioles to sign him to a $4.3 million bonus. Rodriguez didn’t allow a run until his seventh outing in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.
Scouting Report: Though his fastball was up to 97 mph as an amateur, Rodriguez worked 91-94 mph as a pro with good angle and life down in the zone. His slider, which sits in the low 80s with tilt, is the newest of his secondary pitches, though his two-plane, mid-70s curveball might fit better from his high arm slot. His fringy changeup wasn’t necessary in high school, but is developing. He’s able to get down the mound well with a big frame and repeatable delivery, allowing him to locate down in the zone.
The Future: Rodriguez has all the makings of a physical workhorse starter who can slot into a rotation and provide quality innings with a ceiling as high as a No. 3 starter. He could get his first taste of full-season ball at low Class A Delmarva to begin 2019.
Track Record: Akin is the most advanced arm to develop from the Orioles’ increased focus on college pitching that began in the 2016 draft. He battled conditioning and mechanical issues in 2017, but had no such troubles in 2018 as he won the organization’s minor league pitcher of the year award.
Scouting Report: Akin saw his fastball velocity creep up a bit this season, touching 95 mph and holding 91-94 deep into outings at Double-A Bowie while keeping the deception that makes the pitch effective. Hitters have trouble picking up his above-average fastball out of his hand and have to honor the fact that Akin is fearless throwing it to either side of the plate. The same goes for his low-80s slider, which he throws to both left- and righthanded hitters, as well as his low-80s changeup.
The Future: The Orioles mulled adding Akin to the major league roster at times in 2018, because his consistent success won over some doubters in the organization. But with so many other players to add to the roster, Akin’s arrival was put off until 2019, when he’ll likely be a candidate for the rotation in spring training. Even if he doesn’t make the Opening Day roster, he will likely pitch in Baltimore in 2019.
Track Record: Harvey quickly established himself as one of the Orioles’ most talented pitchers, but in six pro seasons, his career has been totally derailed by injuries. It includes elbow soreness in 2014, a fractured leg in 2015 and groin surgery in 2016 before Tommy John surgery later that summer. He returned in 2017 and after flirting with the majors in spring training, made nine starts for Double-A Bowie before going down with a shoulder injury.
Scouting Report: Harvey’s stuff has never been an issue, but it won’t matter if he can’t pitch. Coming from a crossfire delivery that could be problematic for his command at the highest level, his plus fastball sits 92-95 mph and has reached 97 with run and angle, and his two-plane curveball still impresses. His changeup is still a developing pitch, and he added a cutter in 2018, though not in games. There’s some effort in Harvey’s delivery, and while his frame has filled out, it hasn’t shown to be able to handle a workload.
The Future: The Orioles constantly point to another injury-beset top pick—Dylan Bundy—in not discounting Harvey’s promise to be a No. 3 starter. If he can’t hold up, he has an electric high-leverage relief arsenal.
Track Record: The top prep player in New England in his draft year was snatched away from the hometown Red Sox when the Orioles drafted him and signed him from a Liberty commitment. McKenna exploded with 28 extra-base hits in 67 games in 2018 at high Class A Frederick, earning a Carolina League all-star nod before struggling at Double-A Bowie.
Scouting Report: McKenna refined his approach to be on time for the fastball and adjust to breaking balls, helping his bat speed and barrel control play up into what projects as an average hit tool with fringe pop, but plenty of gap power for extra-base hits. Conversely, his ability to bunt for base hits was lauded as he dealt with his late-season slump, and he still was able to work a walk even when it wasn’t going well. His above-average speed plays up and makes him the best bet in the Orioles’ minor league system to stick in center field.
The Future: McKenna is the type of player for whom the sum may exceed the parts. He improved to the point that an everyday major league role with a platoon floor is possible after 2018, and could return to Double-A Bowie to see that through in 2019.
Track Record: A late-bloomer who wasn’t drafted out of high school, Kremer has progressed tremendously since the Dodgers made him the first Israeli player selected by a major league club. Kremer struggled as a swingman in 2017, but adjusted his repertoire with the Dodgers analytics staff’s help to emphasize his curveball. Acquired in the Manny Machado trade, he led the minors with 178 strikeouts in 2018.
Scouting Report: Kremer’s ability to miss bats comes through a four-pitch mix, highlighted by a 91-94 mph fastball that touches 95. His biting 74-76 mph curveball both misses bats and gets weak contact, and he uses it in all situations, while his slider still could develop into a putaway pitch and his changeup is coming along. He has an advanced feel for pitching and sequencing and has distinguished himself already in the system for simply showing the capacity to improve.
The Future: Kremer might not have more than a No. 4 starter ceiling. But he’s had success in the upper level of the minors and has a clear path to a big league job in the not-to-distant future. He could push to Triple-A Norfolk in his first full year in the Orioles system.
Track Record: Once Knight was done with an All-American junior year that included beating every top pitcher and going undefeated in the Southeastern Conference, then pitching Arkansas to the finals of the College World Series, the Orioles signed him to an above-slot $1.1 million bonus. They gave him a break before sending him to short-season Aberdeen, where he essentially continued working as a Friday starter on a pitch count before he went back to finish his degree.
Scouting Report: Knight worked 91-95 mph at Aberdeen after a long college season, showing elite spin rate on both an 82-84 mph slider and his slower curveball, plus a potential above-average changeup. What stood out to the Orioles in their brief look was his aptitude for mixing his pitches and the purpose with which he threw each pitch. Knight’s lean frame shows some projection, as does his athleticism and his loose arm action.
The Future: Such a feel for pitching and the weapons Knight has means there won’t be much resistance on his path to a No. 3 starter’s ceiling in the low minors, though his heavy workload at Arkansas and his slight build will naturally cause durability concerns.
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