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Orioles Top 10 Chat

Moderator: Managing editor Will Lingo compiled the Orioles top 10 prospects list this year. He will field questions about the Orioles system from 3-4 p.m. ET.

Welcome to the first of our Top 10 Prospects chats. This is a new feature we're adding to our annual prospect coverage so that you, the BA reader, can ask more in-depth questions about organizations that interest you. Whenever possible, we will have the person who assembles an organization prospect list chat for an hour on the day we post the top 10.

Remember, our top 10 lists are available to subscribers only. You can get more information about subscribing in our online store. And if you're really interested in prospects, the third annual Prospect Handbook is what you need. It features the top 30 prospects in every organization, as well as a wealth of other in-depth information.

 Q:  Derick Champagne from Richmond VA asks:
What are your thoughts on Eric Dubose?

Will Lingo: Thanks to everyone for stopping by. We think you'll enjoy these organization-specific chats. I hope they make our outstanding prospect coverage even better. Maybe the Orioles weren't the best organization to start with, but I know there are at least a lot of passionate O's fans out there, so let's get to it.

Will Lingo: Dubose has done a nice job of coming back from the injuries that ruined his career with the A's, who made him a first-round pick in 1997. He didn't play at all in 2001 then signed a minor league deal with the Orioles. He pitched well enough at Double-A Bowie to earn his first big league callup. He's a decent prospect, but at this point you're talking about a guy who's not likely to be anything more than a lefty specialist. He will compete for a big league bullpen spot next spring.

 Q:  Erick from Columbus, OH asks:
Good afternoon, Has Matt Riley fallen completely off of the prospect radar screen since his elbow surgery two years ago? Thanks.

Will Lingo: Quite a few questions about Riley today, as you might expect. He has not fallen completely out of the picture. I would expect you'll see him in the Orioles top 30. But he just did not pitch very well this season (6.34 ERA at Bowie). His mechanics were out of whack, and his curveball, which should be his best pitch, was not sharp. Granted, he's coming back from Tommy John surgery, so you would expect next year to be better. The Orioles are giving him the winter off, and he could be back at Bowie to start next season.

 Q:  Scott Jackson from Wilmington, NC asks:
Will, I have been an O's fan my entire life. I am as puzzled as everyone else about where the system is going and who we can get excited about in the future. In your opinion, what can the O's do in the short term, along with hiring a new GM (God knows who wants to work for Angelos), that will produce dividends in the next few seasons and give fans like me some hope of enjoying my trips to Camden Yards in the future?

Will Lingo: I think the key is to hire a strong GM and get out of his way. Presumably they're going to hire a GM who has a plan for the organization, so that would be a great first step. Develop a plan and give someone time and autonomy to implement it. The Orioles have so many resources, there's just no reason the organization should be in this situation.

 Q:  Tommy Carouthers from Johnson City, Tn asks:
Bryan Bass- what kind of shot does he have at being an everyday major leaguer or will his body type just not play at the big league level? He seems to have the potential of getting heavy.

Will Lingo: Bass is one of those players who has talent but didn't show much in the way of development. He's a baseball rat with some tools who needs to get more selective at the plate and find a defensive home. His body shouldn't be a problem except that he'll probably move off shortstop eventually. He committed 38 errors there this season at Delmarva. Third base is most likely, or even first depending on how his body and bat develop.

 Q:  Patience wearing thin from virginia asks:
I looked on as the team let Palmiero and Alomar walk after '98. Then came the supposedly "rich" '99 draft, where they got Reed, Paradis, Bigby, etc, none of whom even made your top 10. Then came the mid-season purge of '00, where they got a bunch of guys Syd said would make him look "smart" in a couple of years. Like many O's fans, I was kind of excited by the possibilities of seeing young guys develop, so I was willing to put up with the losing, because of the hope that great home-grown talent was on the way. Now I find out they are ranked DEAD LAST in minor league talent!!!! What is going on?

Will Lingo: With the draft picks, they just have not developed as hoped, and I'm not sure whether you blame that on the players or the organization--probably a bit of both. I know there are some with the Orioles who don't think Reed has been handled properly. I think the results of the midseason purge of 2000 are more galling because they obviously were not getting a good return in the deals. It was said at the time, and I think when it's all said and done, the Orioles will end up getting nothing out of those deals in the way of big league contributions. And that just can't happen.

 Q:  Adam B. from Cincy, OH asks:
Ed Rogers, does he win MVP or just the ROY this year?

Will Lingo: Yes, I think the hype assigned to Ed was not warranted. Jim Callis can pat himself on the back for this one. I think you're probably looking at a big league backup. Maybe.

 Q:  John Walsh from Chicago asks:
Matt Riley did not make your list, but Bedard is #1 despite both having Tommy John. Riley had some wicked stuff before the injury and his season at Bowie was up and down, but he showed flashes of his previous dominance. What is your take on Riley?

Will Lingo: We've already talked about Riley, but John makes a good comparison regarding Bedard. I think Bedard being No. 1 is a reflection on the lack of premium talent in the Baltimore organization more than anything else. And as I said before, we can hope that Riley shows more of a return to form next season.

 Q:  Thomas Magnum from Honolulu, HI asks:
Will, if you had a crystal ball and knew that Richard Stahl would be injury free for the rest of his career, would you have ranked him #1 this year? Doesn't he have all the tools to be a true ace?

Will Lingo: I think we kind of did that last year. But the injuries cropped up again, with shoulder problems, so he falls a bit this year. He does have the tools to be a true ace, but with a persistent history of injury problems we're going to be cautious with Stahl until he produces a strong, healthy, full season. He had a bone spur in his shoulder shaved down this summer and reportedly was back in the mid-90s this fall, so we'll see what happens next spring.

 Q:  Thurman from Poquoson, VA asks:
The Baltimore Sun is reporting today that Ron Scheuler is the front-runner for the GM job, with Flanagan now being considered for a second front office position. Also Beattie is still in the mix. Are they on the right track with these guys?

Will Lingo: I don't know about Mike Flanagan because he has no front office experience, but the other two guys would be solid choices. Again, assuming you hire a competent GM, I think the more important thing is to develop a comprehensive plan for the organization, implement it and give it time. To me right now the Orioles are not a cohesive organization. People always used to talk about the Oriole Way, and I'm not sure that exists right now.

 Q:  Jason from Charlotte asks:
I love these Top 10 prospect list. Please answer one question, WHY START WITH THE O's????? The entire organization is shameful. Peter Angelos has taken a large market with great fans, great park and made it into a joke. A very hard task to accomplish considering his success in the business world. All of this coming from someone that has always had 0% interest in the O's. Also, where was Ed Rogers on the list? I thought for sure he would be #1.

Will Lingo: We're starting with the American League East this year, and Baltimore falls first in alphabetical order, so there you go. Poor Ed Rogers will be forever mocked.

 Q:  Dave Alan from Santa Rosa, CA asks:
One of the weaknesses I've always found in BA's top prospect lists is the tendency to not explain where the previous year's top prospects have gone. Did they make it to the majors and are no longer prospects? Did they get traded and thereby added to the ML team? Are they derailed by injury or the peter principle? If these questions are left unanswered, we really can't gauge the health of the farm, or the value of your prognostications.

Will Lingo: If you're a subscriber, you can find an archive of prospect information online, with each top 10 going back to the beginning of the magazine. And in our Almanac, we give you the numbers for everyone who was in last year's top 10. Finally, in the Prospect Handbook, you get a better idea of how players move up and down because you can look at a group of 30 rather than 10. Anything else I can sell you?

 Q:  JIM from Coral Gables asks:
If this were the top 30 where would Tommy Arko and Joel Crump make the list? Also what do you think of them? THanks

Will Lingo: Arko, a catcher with a decent bat but mixed reviews beyond that, figures into the second half of the Orioles top 30. Crump didn't make it out of the Appy League in his third professional season, so he's not going to make the list.

 Q:  Tim from Greenwich, CT asks:
I have been following Rommie Lewis since he was drafted in 2001. Although I was impressed with his 2002 performance I was dissapointed the Orioles kept him as a closer. He is projectable as a starter, 6'6, lefthanded and he has fantastic stuff. What are the Orioles waiting for?

Will Lingo: That's a good question. I think it has been debated even within the organization. It's hard to figure, and I think with a new administration you're going to see Lewis in a rotation to start next season. If you're an Orioles fan looking for hope, he's someone you can point to. His velocity has improved since he signed and is now in the low 90s.

 Q:  Chris B from SLC, UT asks:
Two questions: How many Ed Rogers questions are you expecting? What happened to Bryan Bass? With the dismal state of the Orioles system I expected to see his name among the Top 10.

Will Lingo: I think at least 10 Ed Rogers questions will be submitted. Keep in mind that you won't see them all, which I'm sure you're thankful for. Bass has potential and will be on the Orioles list, probably in the teens, but he just didn't show enough this year to get into the top 10.

 Q:  Shane from St. Stephen, New Brunswick asks:
Hello Will, regardless of his position change to the outfield, where would Jayson Werth have placed on the Orioles list. Brilliant trade! Thanks.

Will Lingo: Ouch. Probably would have been No. 1.

 Q:  UK from Chicago asks:
Compare and contract the O's two top catchers, Tommy Arko and Eli Whiteside? Although Arko has been in the system much longer (4yrs I believe), it seems he has more power projection and a better eye at the plate while both are above avg. defensively.

Will Lingo: In general, reports on Whiteside are more uniformly positive. He is a good catch-and-throw guy who has shown more bat than the Orioles expected. He has a chance to be a frontline catcher. Arko does have better power potential, but he's not as good behind the plate and is still a bit immature.

 Q:  Charlie from Oceanside, NY asks:
Reviewing that List of Top Prospects from the last 10 years is an ugly exercise. The farm system obviously has been depleted and an after-thought for some time. Are the personnel in place to turn this around??

Will Lingo: I think there is some potential in the organization, both on and off the field. I don't know enough about the inner workings of the organization to say if the people there can turn it around, but I do think it's fair to expect that a new GM will be making a lot of changes.

 Q:  David Maine from Canandaigua, NY asks:
Hi Will. Thanks for compiling the top 10 prospects list. I was especially interested in seeing John Maine's name in that list( my nephew). What are your thoughts concerning John and his ceiling. Thanks. Dave Maine

Will Lingo: Thanks for joining us. John pitched great this season after an inconsistent spring at UNC Charlotte. His stuff is among the best in the system already, with a 92-93 mph fastball with great sink, so he could move fast if he continues to pitch well next season.

 Q:  David Ward from Attleboro, MA asks:
Why Darnell McDonald at #2? Does he get extra credit for being the only half-decent AAA prospect in the system? I think I might have left him off completely in favor of Steve Bechler or Doug Gredvig.

Will Lingo: You could make that argument. Just about every Orioles prospect comes with at least one significant question. With McDonald, it's "Does he finally get it or was this a fluke?" Obviously, I think he gets it. Bechler and Gredvig will both be in the 11-20 range.

 Q:  john from baltimore asks:
Where would have first-rounder adam lowen been on the list had he signed? What do you think the chances of them signing him next year are?

Will Lingo: He would have been No. 1 as a pitcher and No. 2 as an outfielder. The organization must get him signed after his junior college season is over, and I think they will.

 Q:  Christine from Raleigh, NC asks:
The Orioles haven't really gone out on any limbs for draft picks, at least it doesn't seem that way. So is it fair to say that the bigger problem is in Don Buford's player-development system rather than Tony DiMacio's scouting dept.?

Will Lingo: Interesting theory. We'll see how the new GM feels about it.

 Q:  Paul from Philadelphia asks:
Seeing how Bedard is the no. 1 player in the Orioles system, where would he rank among other major league systems on average? Would he be a no. 10 best player in the average farm system, or is he truly on par with the other no. 1's in the minors?

Will Lingo: On pure talent, he's on par with the premium prospects throughout the game. But with his Tommy John surgery in September, that would have knocked him to the No. 5-10 range for most organizations.

 Q:  Chris from NYC asks:
Hello Will, Thanks for taking our questions. How is it that Val Majewski was rated the fifth best prospect in the O's organization by one of the O's fan publications but didn't even get a nod from BA? I know that he hasn't hit a lot of dingers but as you guys often note, this is usually the last tool to develop. They really seem to like him down there.

Will Lingo: He's on the fringes of the top 10. You could really have picked several guys from this year's draft to put in the top 10, but I didn't want to overload on those guys just because they haven't had a chance to fail yet. In addition to Majewski, second-round pick Corey Shafer also bears watching.

 Q:  Sam Silvas from claremont, ca asks:
What are your thoughts on ex-LSU star Mike Fontenot?

Will Lingo: I like him. I don't think you're talking about a future all-star, but he should be a solid offensive second baseman.

Will Lingo: That's all we have time for today. Thanks for stopping by, and be sure to join us Wednesday for a look at the Red Sox with Jim Callis.

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