The Baltimore Orioles won in Oakland last night, but their most significant victories of the day, were the deals they reached with 1st round pick Dylan Bundy, 2nd round pick Jason Esposito, and 6th rounder Nick Delmonico.
Obviously Bundy was the most important signing, but for an organization that has minimal International efforts, and lacked the compensatory picks of their divisional peers; the signings of Esposito, and Delmonico also needed to occur. Jonathan Mayo, from MLB.com had each of the three players in his listings (http://minors.mlblogs.com/2011/08/15/the-unsigned-top-50-draftees/) of the Top 50 prospects in the 2011 Amateur Draft. Clearly the trio brings some much added talent to the system. With them added, the question now becomes where is the system as a whole?
In their organizational reviews before this season, Keith Law / ESPN ranked the O’s 24th overall, and Baseball America ranked the O’s 21st. My sense is that the O’s will have improved towards the middle of the pack, when the 3rd party analysts do their system rankings this Winter.
Baltimore Sports and Life now ranks the O’s Top 10 prospects as follows:
2) D. Bundy
4) B. Bundy
The encouraging note is that there are a fair amount of other interesting players to follow. After the Top 10 Prospects, I would place these others in different categories.
Talent to be in the Top 10: Klein, Hobgood, Avery, Schrader, Esposito, Delmonico
It was announced today that Klein will be having exploratory shoulder surgery tomorrow with Dr. Yocum in California. Klein has already been out of action since June 1st, with his SLAP tear. I’ve had Klein ranked as high as 6th on the O’s prospect list this year, but with surgery now happening, he falls. When we learn the results of the surgery, he could fall again – or stay here in the next grouping of players.
There has been a lot written about Hobgood, since he was drafted 5th overall in the 2009 draft. While many O’s fans believe he was not worthy of that high of a pick, many Draft analysts did have him in their Top 20-25 overall and climbing. The former Gatorade National HS Player of the Year has had a rough time as a professional, and has only pitched 28 innings this year at the Gulf Coast, and Rookie League levels. Still, he is back on a mound as this season ends and he currently feels healthy. Hobgood just turned 21 on the 3rd. If he works hard this off-season, he should start ’12 back at Delmarva with a chance to quickly move on to Frederick with success.
The 21 year old Avery was the O’s 2nd round pick in the ’08 Draft. Currently the lefty CF is with Bowie, and has a sub .700 OPS in 479 at-bats. Nobody doubts his athleticism, but his game has to tighten up. He currently has 38 walks against 133 k’s in the Eastern League. The 35 steals are nice, but he has been thrown out 13 times. His 26 doubles are encouraging. 2012 will be a big year for him, and maturation in his play will be required.
Schrader has not pitched since July 25th, since he complained of elbow discomfort. MASN’s Steve Melewski reported on August 2nd that Schrader was feeling better and could pitch again before the end of this year. In 46 combined innings at Delmarva and Frederick, Schrader has allowed just 19 hits, with 32 bb’s, and 73 k’s. The elbow and the control is a concern. If healthy, you can easily see him in Bowie next year and just a call away from contributing to the O’s bullpen.
I am puzzled as to why Esposito did not sign earlier. He did not earn himself any additional money of significance. He should have wanted to sign, and begin his professional career as quickly as possible. He went into this ’11 season regarded as a possible 1st round selection by many, but there were questions about his bat which pushed him down. People rave about him at 3rd though, and as a College guy – he will have a chance to move through the system swiftly.
Most scouts/analysts I have read, do not believe Delmonico has the arm strength to Catch as a professional. The O’s gave him the $1.5M signing bonus because they believe he can hit his way to the bigs.
Call-up Types non-impact: Snyder, Adams, Angle, Pelzer, S. Johnson, Miclat, Joseph
These are players that I look at, that I can see as September call-ups, or players that might be called upon due to injuries at the Major League level next year. When all the sites due their prospect lists, they tend to be excluded. Part of that is because they are older, some have had tastes of the bigs, and all of them are regarded as Major League depth at the most. Still, they are guys that are closer to the bigs than most, and could contribute some if needed.
Prospects that could move quickly: Mummey, Ruettiger, Wright, Simon, Taylor, Howard, Jones, Wilson, Givens, Ohlman
Mummey has dealt with a number of injuries during his first professional season, but quickly moved from Delmarva to Frederick. Only has had 113 combined at-bats, but was getting on-base at a high clip, and stealing bases. Being a college guy (2010 4th rounder out of Auburn), he needed to produce early like he did. When he gets healthy, he might be one to watch.
Very similar to Mummey, and Angle is the 2011 8th round pick Ruettiger. Ruettiger (the nephew of Dan Ruettiger of ‘Rudy’ fame) has had success in the Cape Cod League, and in the Pac 10. He was ranked 145th on Nick Faleris’ (Diamond Scape Scouting) Top 300 board. Should be pretty close to his ceiling, should be able to see what you have in short-order.
Wright, Simon, Taylor, Howard, Jones, and Wilson were all college arms selected this year between the 3rd and 10th rounds. I had hoped that Wright was going to be used in relief, but the O’s want to look at him as a Starter. Kevin Goldstein from Baseball Prospectus told us that out of the others, “Jones would be the most likely to be developed initially as a reliever. Well above-average velocity in short stints and a good slider.” You are looking for near immediate dividends out of this group.
I placed Givens and Ohlman in this group, because of where they were drafted and the money provided to them. The results for both have not been there, but if they turn things around; the investment in them will push them up the chain.
Givens had a brutal 210 ab’s for Delmarva, and has only been ok (given his age) in his 210 ab’s for Aberdeen. Make or break year coming as a positional prospect. Without improved production, the O’s will have to consider putting Givens back on the mound.
Ohlman will have spent all of this ’11 season as a 20 year old in the South Atlantic League. He has his supporters in the organization, but his .674 OPS, and his walks to k’s (41 to 83) does not scream out as a guy that needs to be promoted.
Early Watch List: Davies, E. Rodriguez, G. Davis, Tolliver, Narron, Henry, Martin, Baker, Veloz, Vader, Esquivel, Bywater, C. Coffey, Beal, Webb, Cowan
The O’s gave their 26th round pick Zachary Davies $575,000. That says a lot about what the O’s Scouting Department thinks about him. Slim young HS arm that was committed to ASU. The O’s will bring him along slowly and want to build him up physically.
Of note: Wirsch, Welty, Schutz, Zagone, Hudson, A. Baker
Overall, there are some interesting players in the system. As I said above, when the 3rd party Analysts do their system rankings this Winter I can see the O’s moving to the middle of the pack overall. We all know that a mid-tier ranking is not good enough, and that the International efforts have to increase. Many of us would like to see further investment into the system (additional Scouts), and believe improvements in Player Development are needed. While we will continue to discuss those points, let’s be happy for a night that real talent has been added to the system, and that the organizational depth appears to be increasing.