10. Eduardo Rodriguez – LHP
The Venezuelan pitcher started to gain some buzz last season. He continued this season with strong numbers at Delmarva. Rodriguez is not an overpowering pitcher, but he is a lefty and has some decent deception and movement on his pitches. He has a slider which seems to be his best pitch. It has a sharp break on it and it’s the main reason he might be able to stick as a starter. He will need to refine the average change up he has though. Essentially with Rodriguez you have a young lefty who could either be a back-end starter or a strong innings eater or LOOGY in the bullpen. The refinement of his change up and his ability to play his stuff up at the next level will determine whether he can stick in the rotation.
9. Glynn Davis – OF
Maybe this ranking will surprise some, but Davis has displayed quite a few tools that one cannot simply be taught. To start, Davis is an absolute speed demon. He is the best base-stealer in the entire system, and the speed is absolutely plus. Top tier speed is a trait that all OF would love to have. Adding onto that, he is a very strong CF. His speed makes up for most mistakes, which are usually bad routes. His route running has gotten better in the past year. His arm is below-average, but that is one area I can live with. At the plate, he has quick hands and fast bat speed. He does not have much power, but he can hit to the gaps and does have “pop” in that aspect. He has good coverage of the plate, but this also seems to bring on a few negative aspects. He still has poor weight transfer and is often lunging at some curve balls and change ups. They are the death pitches on him currently, and he will need to improve in this area to hit at the higher levels. I was told that he is a little too pull-happy still, and this is a reason why he has some contact issues at times. As mentioned, his speed is Plus-Plus and he can turn a lot of outs into hits with his legs. At the very worst, Glynn is going to be a strong 4th OF. His speed and improving defense will surely get him into the next level if he can just continue on the current path. Remember, this was an undrafted player. His achievements are already fascinating, but he has more on the plate still to accomplish.
8. Branden Kline – RHP
Kline was the Orioles 2nd round selection in the 2012 draft. As a college arm, he had a little more polish, although the Orioles sent him to Aberdeen just so he could get his feet wet. Kline is being viewed as a starter currently, although there are some that think he ends up in the bullpen. He is what some call a “tweener”. Make no mistake, he still has a very talented arsenal. He can pump the fastball, rearing it back to 97 MPH in relief. As a starter, he is more in the 92-95 range. His fastball was a little straight from when I saw him at Aberdeen, and that was mentioned to me by a few others as well. His curve ball is a nice pitch and has a good spin on it. He has a change up that needs more refinement, and I was not thrilled with it in the three innings I saw. He controls and commands all his pitches effectively though. If he can tweak a few things, there is a chance he can stick as a starter. If not, he will shoot through the system as a power reliever and could be a strong back-end type for the Orioles.
7. Mike Wright – RHP
I am a big Wright fan. I truly think he has good enough stuff to be a solid and consistent starter in a major league rotation at some point down the road. If all fails, he could end up being a strong back-end bullpen arm, almost like Jim Johnson became. At age 22, he was very good at Bowie in his first season there (more like a half-season). His 94-95 mph fastball with a heavy sinker is a death notice for any hitter coming up to the plate. The secondary arsenal absolutely improved as well, and he did not have to solely rely on the heat. He reminds me a little of Zach Britton with the arsenal, although do not take that as a comp. I think he could force a look on the MLB roster next season if he continues progressing like he did this season. While some are going to look at his start in the AFL as a struggle, I would refrain from that. He’s had a long season and could be a little worn down. He is there to work more on mechanics and ironing out the kinks. That does not mean he will not be giving it his all, but more that the numbers do not tell the entire story. Also, the AFL offensive cast is truly terrific. Overall, I see Wright pushing his way onto the big league club within the next year. He is a talented pitcher and can be used in a variety of different roles as he is needed.
6. Parker Bridwell – RHP
To be perfectly honest, it bothered me seeing everyone writing Parker off after this season. I put most of that on people simply reading the box score and not seeing him pitch or talking to anyone whom had. Parker has an ungodly amount of talent. He can absolutely take over a game and completely shut down the opposition at times. His arsenal is truly top notch with his fastball around 95 MPH with a strong sinking movement on it. He also has a curve ball, change up and cutter that he uses. The results have not been solid with Parker, but all the tools and abilities are there. I cannot state that enough. He could easily rocket into a very productive major league pitcher if he can settle down his command and control. Apparently he grew 2 inches in the off-season and this really threw off his mechanics. Also there are a lot of things going on behind the scenes within games that are not known. It is impossible to truly look at a box score and see the development of anyone, especially Parker. In the statistic-heavy baseball world that exists nowadays, the numbers are what irk people away from him. But it is impossible to teach the talent that he possesses. Only a handful of pitchers in each organization can even match his overall arsenal. That alone will keep me high on him. Even if he does not amount to anything, I know he still had the potential to.
5. L.J. Hoes – OF
I have watched L.J. play since for quite some time now. Hoes has a solid frame and good quick-twitch athleticism. He probably does not have much growth left, although that might be a good thing since he relies on more speed and contact. The bat speed is above-average. He has solid fast-twitch muscles which allow him to quickly catch up on some pitches, and sometimes he shoots balls opposite field when he is late due to this. He has a compact swing which allows him to easy his swing with a less violence approach. He also has a short load, which takes away some potential power. Of course, he is not going to be knocking in 20 HR a year anyways. If they desperately wanted to, they could tweak his approach and maybe ingrain some more pop. I do not see a point in that, since it is not a true strength of his game. Sometimes he has trouble catching up to a good fastball, although he is good at going opposite field. He will hit a lot of grounders through the 1B/2B hole. He has a solid approach at the plate and waits for his pitch. I was impressed by how often he laid off the low and away junk pitches, especially early in the count. He’s not a flashy bat, but there is enough talent there for him to be a decent left fielder down the road. He is not the prototypical bat you want there, but he still has value. On the defensive side, I simply do not see him being able to play anywhere besides the corner OF. He did not work out at second base, largely due to not making good reads and getting eaten up on hoppers and fast grounders. They would not have moved him off the position if he could have had even the slightest chance to stick. In the OF, he looks much more comfortable and it seems like a better overall fit. He has some work to do on routes, but I am not entirely worried about him there defensively. Hoes is a guy on the cusp of playing in the MLB. He has some things to iron out in the AFL, and maybe he can push for a spot on the Orioles 25 man roster next spring training.
4. Nick Delmonico – IF
Delmonico was an over-slot draft pick in 2011 and was a popular pick right from the beginning. He is a lively player with a high baseball intelligence. He comes from a strong baseball family, with his father being a big-time college coach and brothers also playing. His bat speed is alright, but nothing overly spectacular. He does have a smooth swing and looks like he could develop some power down the road. Currently, he is more of a line-drive hitter, although there is a little loft in the swing. His swing actually was a little long at times. The biggest question mark with Nick right now is where does he play defense. He was tested at second base this season, and I am not sure that is a good fit for him. He simply was below-average there from all reports given. He might work defensively at first base, but his value there primarily relies on how much the raw power translates into in-game power. In the end, Delmonico could end up moving to right field. He has a strong arm, so it would not be the worst move in the world. Overall, Delmonico’s value relies mostly on his bat and the potential that it brings. If he can take a step forward this year and stay healthy, then he could significantly raise his value.
3. Jonathan Schoop – IF
With the promotion of Manny Machado, Schoop takes over reign as the top positional prospect in the Orioles system. Schoop has a big frame which tells me he has some growth left. In fact, he might end up being bigger than Manny Machado. He has grown substantially since just last year. Some would think that would affect his agility, but he still looks quick and agile enough to currently handle the middle infield. I really still feel like he could grow even more. There is room for more muscle, and possibly more power. At the plate, Schoop has an upright and balanced stance. He was a little jerky with the head last year and at the beginning of 2012. Since then, he has settled it down. He has quick hands and shoulders, which provide him with lightning bat speed. I will go on record saying he has some of the best overall swings in the system in terms of quickness and speed. He is not the prototypical bat one would see in the middle infield. He has more power than most, and I would rate that power as plus. That is right now, as he could easily turn that into plus-plus power if he does put on some muscle. His bat speed and growing body really could make that happen. There are a few worries with Schoop at the plate though. His swing was a little long at times, and he was struggling with good secondary pitches. The change and curve are killing him at times. He developed an elongated swing and I think the secondary pitches were in the back of his head and altering his approach and swing. This is the most important aspect of his game that needs work. He simply will be thrown these until he learns how to lay off them. Defensively, Schoop can still currently play Shortstop or Second. As of now, he still has the quickness and agility, although future growth could move him to Third or even the corner OF. He’s been relatively alright up the middle, but he still has a few errors here and there due to misjudging balls or his timing being off. I think he can stick at second base down the road, although I have no problem with him getting time at shortstop still. If you can play shortstop, you can play anywhere (besides catcher maybe). Schoop has been impressive at times through his young career. Look for him to hopefully improve against secondary pitches and take his game to the next level in 2013. He is not too far off the MLB level, but he will not get there until he shows those improvements.
2. Kevin Gausman – RHP
The best part of the former LSU Tiger is his attitude. I can’t recall many players that have looked so happy to be on the diamond. He is always in a lively mood and just generally loves and enjoys the game of baseball. Of course, he also has a talented arsenal. He throws a 2S and 4S fastball, although he mostly sticks with the 4S. He has a cannon for an arm, topping out in the mid-to-upper 90’s. The pitch has some nice downward movement on it, and he can keep his fastball low. Sometimes he will overthrow, as I noticed in Aberdeen when I saw him. His change up has solid movement on it, but sometimes he will leave it up a little bit and it gets hit. The slider is probably his worst pitch, and I only saw him throw it a few times in my appearance. It’s been called more of a slurve by some. It needs some refinement, because right now it looks to only be a “change of scenery” pitch. Overall, Gausman is a polished college pitcher that should move fast through the system. It was a joke watching him in Aberdeen, as he was laughably better than the talent there. In Frederick, he saw more challenging hitters. He could very well start at Bowie next season, and it would not be shocking to see him push his way into the Orioles mid-to-end year plans. With Gausman and the next guy on the list, it seems like the Orioles have a strong new wave of pitchers on the horizon.
1. Dylan Bundy – RHP
What do I really need to say? Just about every single prospect site has exhausted talking about Dylan. He is one of, if not the best, pitching prospect in all of baseball. You could argue he has the best overall fastball, curve ball, and command out of any minor league pitcher. His change up is ridiculous, especially when coming off a 97 mph fastball. He’s a workout beast and dominated at all three levels this season. I really need not go into anymore detail, but I will. His fastball is simply too much for a minor league hitter. It sits in the 94-96 mph range for the most part. It’s just too lively and fast for that level of play. Obviously, the MLB is a little different, but I think he will be just fine. The only knock I have on Dylan is sometimes he will leave a change or curve up in the zone. That pitch then becomes hittable. Otherwise, this is a player that has everything going for him. He has top-tier ability, a great family background, a glowing amount of confidence, and the respect of many around him. He truly is one of the best pitchers I have ever seen in the minors, and it’s no secret that he is absurdly talented. There is no doubt that he will be with the Orioles at some point next season. Whether that is out of spring training, or after May, is to be seen.
Tucker Blair was born and raised in the Baltimore area and currently lives in Elkridge, Maryland. He graduated from York College of Pennsylvania with a B.S in Entrepreneurial Studies and is currently a Project Analyst for a Management Consulting Firm in Federal Hill, Baltimore. Tucker was previously the Managing Editor at Orioles Nation, where he worked on prospect lists, reports, and analysis on the Orioles minor league system. He also previously wrote his personal blog, The EntreprenOriole.