The thoughts and views below are a combination of my personal experiences and the reports and views given to me by sources within the baseball industry. I have seen almost all of these prospects play at least a few times, with some over 10 times. Some players just missed making the top three for a category, and the difference between one and three is not all that large in some cases. The list is subject to change in the future.
Best Average Hitter:
1. L.J. Hoes – Tops the list simply because he has proven at the highest level that his compact swing and discipline is real.
2. Christian Walker – Always has been a consistent and productive hitter dating back to college. Swing is smooth and easy for a 1B.
3. Adrian Marin – Contact is his game and he has solid tools in speed, bat speed. Swing is smooth.
Best Raw Power:
1. Aaron Baker – Absolute beast with a bat, hits the ball with force. Seen him hit a ball at least 470 feet before.
2. Jonathan Schoop – Once tall and lanky, Schoop is starting to shape and mold into a big bat. Great bat speed helps a little here.
3. Hector Veloz – Yea, he only has 5 career HR’s in the minors, but he has 6/7 raw power. long swing and contact concerns hinder this power right now. Wouldn’t be that crazy to put him atop this list.
Best Plate Discipline:
1. L.J. Hoes – Hoes has always been solid with discipline. Lays off pitches that are “unhittable”. Just needs to prove it in the MLB now.
2. Johnny Ruettiger – Constantly lays off the ball just outside, knows the strike zone extremely well for a young hitter.
3. Christian Walker -Always known for getting on base in college, and it’s no different so far in the minors. Patient and does not chase. Curious to see how he handles Frederick.
Best Plate Approach:
1. Johnny Ruettiger – Always has an idea of what he wants to do, works the count in his favor. Uses his smartness to his advantage. Knows when to pull or hit the ball opposite field.
2. Nick Delmonico – Seasoned for a HS draft selection, clearly demonstrates his high baseball IQ and baseball bloodlines.
3. Tyler Kelly – Kelly has seasoned himself and shown much growth in this aspect. He may not have all the pure tools, but a solid approach has vastly improved his game.
Best Bat Speed
1. Jonathan Schoop – Bat speed is exciting, inviting for power down the road. Has no trouble catching up to any velocity.
2. Roderick Bernadina – Lightning quick bat speed, which allows him to have a little more pop than his body frame portrays. Might even be able to relax a little on the speed to lessen violent swing, but that discussion is for another day.
3. Glynn Davis – Bat speed is very quick, allowing him to get by with having very minimal power.
Best Infield Arm:
1. Jonathan Schoop – Arm is strong enough to play 3rd, or make a big throw from the SS hole. Would be above-average arm in OF as well.
2. Jason Esposito – Arm is well above-average and certainly good enough for the hot corner.
3. Brandon Waring – Above-average arm strength has allowed him to stick and progress at the hot corner.
Best Overall Infielder:
1. Adrian Marin – All reports say he looks to be very solid in the field with good hands, soft hands, range, and a decent arm. Looks to be the best pick behind Gausman from 2012.
2. Jason Esposito – Down year in all aspects, but the defense should return to form and he still showed flashes of plus skills at third.
3. Jonathan Schoop – Tough to find anyone whom grew more than Schoop the past few years. Defense has a ways to go still but he has become a reliable glove at SS, 2B. Range is better, arm is great, transfers have gotten better.
Best Outfield Arm:
1. Brenden Webb – Cannon arm that really goes under the radar. Plus tool for Webb and the exact arm you want in the corner OF.
2. L.J. Hoes – Surprisingly good arm in the corner OF. Not super, but certainly enough to stick there.
3. Steve Bumbry – Always had a solid and accurate arm. Must be in the blood.
Best Overall Outfielder:
1. Glynn Davis – Best speed in system, best range. Still needs to work on routes, but very confident in him as a CF. Arm is enough for the position.
2. Brenden Webb – Cannon arm, above-average speed, makes decent reads, and good range. Very solid RF.
3. L.J. Hoes – Not plus at any one trait, but is average to above-average in range, arm, speed, routes. Reliable in the corners, probably a tad overwhelmed in CF.
Best Game-calling Catcher:
1. Brian Ward – Wisdom and strong defense help a ton, but Ward has a knack for working with the young pitchers and they seem to love him.
2. Joe Oliveira – Only heard good things about Joe behind the plate all year. Frederick pitchers loved him behind the dish.
3. Adam Davis – One of the better backups catchers in terms of gamecalling. Pitchers felt comfortable with him all year.
Best Overall Defensive Catcher:
1. Brian Ward – Pop Times consistently within 1.75-1.85 range, strong reactions, quick movements, strong arm. Has it all defensively.
2. Adam Davis – Pop times around 1.9, has an athletic build and can frame well. Told by many that they love his “upbeat” style and aggressiveness.
3. Tanner Murphy – Solid footwork, framing, and arm strength before he had surgery. Been told he needs to take the next step in his game, but the defensive aspect is all there.
Best Fastball Velocity:
1. Jose Nivar – I have personally seen him hit 100 MPH on the radar gun before. Usually around 94-98. Usually not very accurate.
2. Dylan Bundy – Consistently sits 92-95 and can reach 97-98 if he truly rears back.
3. Kevin Gausman – Consistently hovers in the mid 90′s.
Best Overall Fastball:
1. Dylan Bundy- Probably one of the best fastballs in the minors. Movement, velocity, you name it.
2. Kevin Gausman – Velocity is high, although his fastball is just a little more straight than Dylan’s. Still one of the best in system.
3. Parker Bridwell – Constantly overlooked this year, Parker still has a very solid fastball that can hit 95 as a starter. Loses some flame in the later innings, but still much room for growth and I am confident in him being able to increase this pitch.
1. Kevin Gausman – Really works well with his high-end fastball. funny enough, it could still use refinement and could actually become much better.
2. Dylan Bundy – Have seen him pull the string with this pitch plenty of times. Spots it perfect in the lower half of the zone and AA hitters were really having trouble picking it up.
3. Eduardo Rodriguez – I heard that this pitch took a big step in 2012. Deceptive delivery helps him pull the string.
1. Dylan Bundy – This video explains it all.
2. Branden Kline – Curve is a nice secondary pitch to his strong fastball, has nice depth and spin on it. Could even have some more growth left in it.
3. Bobby Bundy – Curve is not as ridiculous like the brothers, but it’s still pretty darn good.
1. Clay Schrader – This pitch can be extremely solid for Schrader and he gets a lot of swing-and-misses on it. Used it much more in 2012 than the past, which resulted in a little more growth.
2. Dan Klein – Injured and oft forgotten, but he did have a solid slider coming out of UCLA and displayed it in his stints in the minors so far.
3. Eduardo Rodriguez – Pitch has really been refined in past year. Still has some room for growth, and will be necessary if he wants to continue progression.
1. Mike Wright – Similar bowling ball fastball like Jim Johnson. When on his game, he is getting weak roll-overs on his pitches.
2. Parker Bridwell – High end velocity fastball has natural sink on it.
3. Devin Jones – Ball dips out of his hand and he gets a ton of ground balls this way. two-seam and natural sinker work wonders and make up for not being a true K pitcher.
1. Tyler Wilson – Always been a control/command type of player. Put together a really strong 2012 season.
2. Dylan Bundy – Part of the reason why he’s the next level above others. Quality K’s. I rarely see him mentioned in this category, but with his age and experience, he is quite impressive.
3. T.J. McFarland – The Orioles Rule 5 selection has used his solid command to get this far.
1. Tyler Wilson – No surprise here from one of the smarter players in the organization. Always around the plate and knows when to stretch the plate as well.
2. Zach Davies – The little engine that could. Small stature, average velocity, smart player with a “good girlfriend” as my friend Don Olsen likes to say. Confidence in where he is throwing the ball.
3. Zach Clark – Almost the same as above, Clark has solid control and has been around the block enough to know how to use it.
1. Mike Belfiore – Your prototypical LOOGY in the making. Velocity is high enough to ensure that his already deceptive angle and release is even tougher to pick up.
2. Eduardo Rodriguez – He has natural deception and this makes his fastball look a few mph stronger than it really is.
3. Josh Hader – I think he really can fool lefties as he goes up the ranks, although that may be jumping the gun a bit. Arm angle and funky delivery hides the ball well and surprise velocity make it even better.
1. Johnny Ruettiger – Constantly getting a solid jump, decent enough speed to take advantage of it. Very cognizant on the basepath.
2. L.J. Hoes – Knows what he is doing on the basepath. Doesn’t light the basepath on fire like Glynn Davis, but is very smart and takes advantage of mistakes.
3. Brenden Webb – I really like what he brings to the table. Has some speed, but knows how to run the bases and uses his decent speed to his advantage.
1. Glynn Davis – Fastest player within the Orioles system. Best stolen base threat.
2. Trent Mummey – Above-average speed and capable of 20+ SB if he stays healthy.
3. Adrian Marin – Not super speed, but enough to swipe some bases and stay productive.
Best Overall Baserunner:
1. Glynn Davis – Fastest player within the system, and is also very adept at running the bases.
2. Brenden Webb – Decent speed and smartness allows him to be productive on the basepath.
3. Johnny Ruettiger – Just fast enough to steal bases, but is very smart on the basepath and gets good jumps and reads.
Best Overall Athlete:
1. Dylan Bundy – Their father has a line he always likes to say: “Pitchers are athletes too!”. His son is one heck of an athlete.
2. Bobby Bundy – Same goes for Bobby. Both these brothers are in such great shape that it’s quite unbelievable.
3. Torsten Boss – This guy is a gamer and athlete. As written below this, he is so athletic he can play practically anywhere. I probably could have picked a handful of players here.
1. Torsten Boss – This guy can play practically anywhere on the field. He may have primarily been at third, but he could play SS and even CF if needed. Athleticism shines.
2. Tyler Kelly – He can essentially play all around the diamond, even SS in a pinch. I think there is enough athleticism for him to be formidable in a corner OF as well. Utility guy down the road if he continues to prove his worth at the plate.
3. Jonathan Schoop – He can play 2B and SS already, and there is no doubt he could play 3B. I have even heard some say he could move to RF if he needed.
1. Jake Pintar - 6’7″ 200 with plenty of growth left. If he ever fully develops, could be a steal in the 29th round.
2. Bennett Parry – 6’6″ 225 – Big kid with some growth and velocity gain left.
3. Ron Schreuers – 6’6″ 205 with more room to grow. That’s a big boy.