Baltimore Orioles: Top 10 Prospects

Baltimore Orioles

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, 2008.

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1. Matt Wieters, c

2. Radhames Liz, rhp

3. Troy Patton, lhp

4. Nolan Reimold, of

5. Bill Rowell, 3b

6. Brandon Snyder, 1b/3b

7. Jake Arrieta, rhp

8. Chorye Spoone, rhp

9. Pedro Beato, rhp

10. Brandon Erbe, rhp

Best Hitter for Average Brandon Snyder
Best Power Hitter Nolan Reimold
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Matt Angle
Fastest Baserunner Calvin Lester
Best Athlete Tyler Henson
Best Fastball Radhames Liz
Best Curveball Chorye Spoone
Best Slider David Hernandez
Best Changeup Radhames Liz
Best Control Garrett Olson
Best Defensive Catcher Matt Wieters
Best Defensive Infielder Luis Hernandez
Best Infield Arm Billy Rowell
Best Defensive Outfielder Matt Angle
Best Outfield Arm Nolan Reimold
Catcher Matt Wieters
First Base Brandon Snyder
Second Base Brian Roberts
Third Base Bill Rowell
Shortstop Luis Hernandez
Left Field Nolan Reimold
Center Field Matt Angle
Right Field Nick Markakis
Designated Hitter Mike Costanzo
No. 1 Starter Erik Bedard
No. 2 Starter Adam Loewen
No. 3 Starter Radhames Liz
No. 4 Starter Jeremy Guthrie
No. 5 Starter Matt Albers
Closer Chris Ray
Year Player, Position 2007
1998 Ryan Minor, 3b Out of baseball
1999 Matt Riley, lhp Dodgers
2000 Matt Riley, lhp Dodgers
2001 Keith Reed, of Newark (Atlantic)
2002 Richard Stahl, lhp Out of baseball
2003 Erik Bedard, lhp Orioles
2004 Adam Loewen, lhp Orioles
2005 Nick Markakis, of Orioles
2006 Nick Markakis, of Orioles
2007 Bill Rowell, 3b Orioles
Year Player, Position 2007
1998 Rick Elder, of Out of baseball
1999 Mike Paradis, rhp Out of baseball
2000 Beau Hale, rhp Orioles
2001 Chris Smith, lhp Out of baseball
2002 Adam Loewen, lhp Orioles
2003 Nick Markakis, of Orioles
2004 *Wade Townsend, rhp Devil Rays
2005 Brandon Snyder, c Orioles
2006 Bill Rowell, 3b Orioles
2007 Matt Wieters, c Orioles
*Did not sign
Matt Wieters, 2007 $6,000,000
Adam Loewen, 2002 $3,200,000
Beau Hale, 2000 $2,250,000
Chris Smith, 2001 $2,175,000
Bill Rowell, 2006 $2,100,000
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Baltimore Orioles

Could it finally be the beginning of a turnaround for the Orioles? The team hired Andy MacPhail as president of baseball operations in June, effectively making him the team's new general manager. MacPhail came from the Cubs, where he was team president from 1994-2006, and before that he had been GM of the Twins since August 1985.

MacPhail, who knows Orioles owner Peter Angelos from major league labor negotiations in 2002 and '06, may finally be the executive who can isolate the Angelos family from the daily functions of the baseball operation. He got assurances to that effect when he took the job, and when asked at his introductory press conference if Angelos had promised not to interfere, MacPhail said: "If I didn't feel that way, I wouldn't be here. It's just that simple."

MacPhail's first major step, other than replacing manager Sam Perlozzo, was signing off on two huge draft deals. The first was catcher Matt Wieters, the fifth overall pick who signed for a draft-record $6 million in up-front bonus money. Baltimore also signed fifth-rounder Jake Arrieta for $1.1 million, making up for the team's lack of a second- or third-round pick. Wieters and Arrieta were the first Scott Boras clients ever signed by the Oriole during Angelos' tenure. They also continued a trend of stronger drafts under scouting director Joe Jordan, who was overseeing his third draft for Baltimore.

After another dismal regular season ended, MacPhail began work on remaking the roster. The first major step was unloading Miguel Tejada to the Astros for five players, most notably young arms Matt Albers and Troy Patton, who will compete for big league rotation spots in spring training. MacPhail was also shopping his other valuable commodities, most notably staff ace Erik Bedard, in an effort to make over a roster that had few difference-makers.

He also hired Rick Kranitz as the team's new pitching coach, ending a failed two years under Leo Mazzone, who couldn't work the same magic he did with the Braves. Kranitz has much less of a major league track record but quickly gained respect with the Marlins, and he was Baseball America's 2006 Major League Coach of the Year.

Those are small steps but hopeful signs for Orioles fans who have grown weary of watching a string of 10 straight losing seasons following the team's last playoff appearance in 1997. Baltimore won the American League East that year but has finished fourth in every year since except 2003—when it finished third.

Years of poor decisions have led to the smallest crowds ever at Camden Yards, an organization that has fallen far behind the Red Sox and Yankees in the AL East and the demise of the Oriole Way. MacPhail appreciates the history of the franchise because his father Lee, a Hall of Famer, was GM of the Orioles from 1959-65.

"The Orioles (of the past) had their Oriole Way and we need to find ours," MacPhail said. "You have to do what you have to do to get this franchise, not just to have an over .500 season, but to get them into position to get them to the postseason and get them to the World Series. I don't have a goal of getting over .500. We shouldn't be here for that. No team should be here for that."

But it wouldn't be a bad place to start.

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