Archive for December, 2011

More Bench Depth Signed

December 21, 2011

The Orioles have signed OF Endy Chavez to a one year contract for $1.5 million. There are also incentives which could add $500,000 to the deal if reached.

The Orioles have yet to make any big trades or signings to help the major league club but Dan Duquette has done very well in improving the bench. Acquiring players like Taylor Teagarden, Matt Antonelli, Ryan Flaherty, and now Chavez will keep there from being a huge drop off when a starter is hurt or gets a day off. Chavez will be a very good fourth outfielder. Hes a great defender at all three outfield positions and can handle the bat. He doesn’t have great power or plate discipline but hits for a good average. Last year with the Texas Rangers he hit .301/.323/.426 with 11 doubles, 3 triples, 5 homeruns, 27 RBI, and 10 stolen bases after being called up from AAA in late May. Chavez batted .305/.353/.445 with 8 doubles, 2 triples, 2 homeruns, 17 RBI, and 6 stolen bases with Round Rock. As it stands right now he’ll be the primary back up for Nolan Reimold, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis while getting a little more playing time in left field than the other spots. I don’t think he’ll platoon with Reimold but he’ll most likely get one or two starts a week out there. It remains to be seen whether the Orioles make a big splash this offseason but at least they’re getting the little things right with the depth signings and foray into the international market. Its pretty certain that this team isn’t going to do much in 2012 at this point unless something drastic happens but we can at least be respectable while waiting for the players to develop in the farm system and on the big league level.

2012 Top 25 Prospects: 1-10

December 16, 2011

1. SS – Manny Machado – 19 years old

A+ Frederick: .245/.308/.384, 12 doubles, 3 triples, 5 HR, 26 RBI, 8 SB, 237 AB
A Delmarva: .276/.376/.483, 8 doubles, 2 triples, 6 HR, 24 RBI, 3 SB, 145 AB

Machado lived up to high expectations last season, dominating at Delmarva as the second youngest player in the league second only to Bryce Harper. His overall numbers might not look dominant but thats because he dislocated his knee in May and struggled a bit when coming back from that. He was promoted to Frederick and became the youngest player in the league there. He struggled out of the gate but had a great month of July, posting an .875 OPS. He held his own overall and looked like he had adjusted during the Keys playoff run, hitting very well. His defense was smooth and he proved some doubters wrong that he could stick at shortstop, at least for the next five or six years. Hes still growing into his body and should develop more power to go along with his plus contact and plate discipline skills. He’ll play at AA Bowie at some point this season and from there will only be one step away from the Orioles.

2. RHP – Dylan Bundy – 19 years old

Did not play in 2011

The younger Bundy has the potential to be the first true ace the Orioles have had since Mike Mussina. I’ve already offered my thoughts on Bundy here and not much has changed since he was drafted since he didn’t get to pitch for us last season. It will be very excited to track him this coming, started at A Delmarva. I expect to see him at A+ Frederick at some point. With a high 90’s fastball, great conditioning, and very good secondaries already hes probably already the best pitcher we have in the minor leagues. It shouldn’t take long for him to rise through the system and justify the $4 million signing bonus and major league contract we gave him.

3. 2B/3B – Jonathon Schoop – 20 years old

A+ Frederick: .271/.329/.375, 12 doubles, 2 triples, 5 HR, 37 RBI, 6 SB, 299 AB
A Delmarva: .316/.376/.514, 12 doubles, 3 triples, 8 HR, 34 RBI, 6 SB, 212 AB

Schoop was the big surprise from the 2010 season and he did nothing to stop the momentum. In fact, he increased his profile and alot of scouts put him right up there with Machado with the bat. He pretty much dominated with Delmarva as the third youngest player in the league and held his own at Frederick as the second youngest player. He hits for a good average, has good on base skills, and a bunch of raw power. He still needs to work on translating the raw power into games like alot of young hitters. His defense was better than expected this year as well. He was solid at third and showed enough range to play second base moving forward. He’ll continue to move up in line with Machado, seeing AA Bowie at some point this coming season. Should be a heck of an infield to follow up through the minors.

4. RHP – Parker Bridwell – 20 years old

A Delmarva: 0-3, 7.06 ERA, 21.2 IP, 13 K, 13 BB
Short A Aberdeen: 2-5, 4.53 ERA, 53.2 IP, 57 K, 22 BB

Bridwell’s numbers weren’t very good last season but hes still learning after transitioning to baseball full time. He was a multi sport star in high school, recruited to be a quarterback in college. He has the second best raw stuff in the system after only Dylan Bundy. He throws a mid 90’s fastball with a couple off speed pitches with potential to be weapons. He had more strikeouts than innings pitched with Aberdeen against mostly college hitters. He’ll start next season in Delmarva’s rotation and could get a mid season promotion to Frederick if he performs well. Hes my biggest breakout candidate for 2012.

5. 1B/3B – Nick Delmonico – 19 years old

Did not play in 2011

Delmonico was a surprise signing last year. He was looked at as a back up in case the O’s couldn’t sign Dylan Bundy but they ended up shelling out the money for both. We need to do more of that to get as much talent into the system as possible. He didn’t get to play last season but reports out of the fall instructional league are that he shows a plus power bat. Hes athletic so should be able to play a good first base. He played at catcher and third base in high school so it shouldn’t be a tough transition. He’ll potentially be the systems biggest power hitter, something we haven’t had alot of. Big upside here.

6. LF – LJ Hoes – 22 years old

AA Bowie: .305/.379/.413, 17 doubles, 1 triple, 6 HR, 54 RBI, 16 SB, 344 AB
A+ Frederick: .241/.297/.342, 7 doubles, 3 HR, 17 RBI, 4 SB, 158 AB

Hoes had an odd season. He started off repeating A+ Frederick when I thought he should’ve been at AA Bowie but then he struggled there and looked like he was starting to lose his prospect status. But then he was promoted to Bowie anyway and performed well after that. Maybe he was frustrated about repeating A ball but that doesn’t look good. The year ended on a positive note with him showing great plate discipline and hitting for a good average. His power is still developing but he could be a utility guy in a year or two. If the power comes than he would be a solid left fielder.

7. RHP – Bobby Bundy – 22 years old

AA Bowie: 1-3, 9.60 ERA, 15 IP, 13 K, 11 BB
A+ Frederick: 11-5, 2.75 ERA, 121 IP, 100 K, 31 BB

The older Bundy brother doesn’t have the raw stuff of Dylan but hes developed nicely since coming into the Orioles system. He had a great season with Frederick but struggled after being promoted to AA Bowie. He was most likely tired after pitching the most innings of his professional career so I wouldn’t make much of it. He’ll start there next season and we’ll get a true read on his abilities. He reminds me a bit of Jim Johnson when he was coming up through the system. He should land in the back end of the rotation or as a late inning reliever in a couple years.

8. 3B – Jason Esposito – 21 years old

Did not play in 2011

Esposito was our 2nd round pick in this years draft. He wasn’t a guy that was expected to get much of an over slot bonus so I’m not sure why he waited to the last minute to sign, but it cost him some development as he wasn’t able to get any at bats in 2011. Hes regarded as a great fielding third baseman that should be able to hit around .280 with doubles power. Basically the anti Mark Reynolds. He could be an everyday third baseman if his bat develops. He should at the very least land on a major league bench with his defensive value.

9. RHP – Dan Klein – 23 years old

AA Bowie: 3-0, 1.08 ERA, 16.2 IP, 16 K, 3 BB
A+ Frederick: 0-1, 1.15 ERA, 15.2 IP, 21 K, 3 BB

Klein’s season was going along great until he came down with a labrum injury. The plan was to get him stretched out gradually over the season to eventually turn him into a starter. Obviously those plans are scrapped but the injury wasn’t as bad as expected and he should be able to pitch this year. He can still be a valuable reliever in the majors. I don’t think he has the stuff to be a closer but I could see him as a 7th or 8th inning guy as soon as 2013 if he bounces back quickly.

10. 2B – Ryan Adams – 24 years old

MLB: .281/.333/.326, 4 doubles, 7 RBI, 89 AB
AAA Norfolk: .284/.341/.454, 28 doubles, 3 triples, 10 HR, 37 RBI, 5 SB, 377 AB

Aside from the Orioles unexplainable idea to have Adams sit on the major league bench for almost a month in the middle of the season he had a successful season. He improved his defense alot. It might be close to average now but he was awful before this season. He proved he can hit for average at the major league level during a September call up. He just needs to translate his on base skills and doubles power next. He could be a potential fill in at second base or a good bat off the bench. He has a future in the majors, in what role remains to be seen.

O’s Dip Into Japanese Market

December 16, 2011

The Orioles have signed LHP Tsuyoshi Wada to a two year contract worth $8.15 million with a $5 million option.

This is the second time the Orioles have signed a player from Japan with the first of course being RHP Koji Uehara. Wada is a 30 year old soft tossing lefty that has put up some very good numbers over his career, especially the last two years. In 2010 he was 17-8 with a 3.14 ERA over 169.1 innings with 169 strikeouts and 55 walks before going 16-5 with a 1.53 ERA over 184.2 innings with 168 strikeouts and 40 walks during the most recent season. He doesn’t have a good fastball, sitting between 84-88 with not alot of movement, but he mixes his pitches and locates well. He also has a slider and a changeup and a deceptive delivery to keep hitters off balance. I think he’ll be given a chance to make the starting rotation out of spring training and he may be a decent 4th or 5th starter but I think his eventual destination will be as a set up guy, alot like Koji. This also keeps the door to Japan open and Duquette continues to keep his promise on the international market. I like that we will have an inventory of capable starters, now we just need to get some with front end ability. The depth could be a precursor to a Jeremy Guthrie trade, which I’d like to see because I think he would bring back good value.

A Minor Trade

December 16, 2011

The Orioles have traded LHP Jarret Martin and OF Tyler Henson to the Los Angelos Dodgers for LHP Dana Eveland.

This is a confusing trade. Eveland is a guy that was a candidate to be non-tendered, where he would’ve been available to sign for free. There are also plenty of pitchers on the free agent market who profile as a fringe back end starter/long reliever like him. I guess the Orioles saw something they liked enough to give up something for him. During a cup of coffee during September call ups Eveland went 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA over 29.2 innings with 16 strikeouts and 6 walks. For AAA Albuquerque Isotopes he was 12-8 with a 4.38 ERA over 154 innings with 107 strikeouts and 61 walks. That was in the PCL, a very hitter friendly environment. Still I don’t see him as anything other than depth at AAA Norfolk or as a long reliever that can step in and start if we need him. Eveland was once a pretty highly touted prospect in Oakland’s system but has never found much success in the majors and has bounced around quite a bit over the past few years.

At least the Orioles didn’t give up much of anything. Neither of the players going to the Dodgers were even close to making my top 25 prospect list. Jarret Martin has a good fastball and might be decent if/when he moves into the bullpen but hes very wild and inconsistent. For A Delmarva this year he went 5-12 with a 4.96 ERA over 110.2 innings with 97 strikeouts and 65 walks. Henson was a fifth round pick in the 2006 draft but has never put together a great season. Hes a very good athlete but hit only .247/.313/.321 with 18 doubles, three triples, three homeruns, 36 RBI, and nine stolen bases over 449 at bats. These minor deals appear to me as Dan Duquette clearing what he considers filler so he can bring in some of his own guys into the system.

2012 Top 25 Prospects: 11-25

December 4, 2011

11. OF – Glynn Davis – 20 years old

A+ Frederick: .250/.250/.250, 4 AB
Short A Aberdeen: .271/.337/.337, 14 doubles, HR, 14 RBI, 23 SB, 255 AB
GCL Orioles: .435/.519/.652, 2 doubles, HR, 2 RBI, SB, 23 AB

Davis was an undrafted free agent that fell off the board because he was kicked off Catonsville community college’s team, which raises attitude questions. Luckily the Orioles knew he wasn’t a bad kid due to him being local and took a chance on him. So far its panned out. Hes a very fast player that makes good contact. Hes shown signs that he could develop some pop and has a good approach at the plate. With his speed he has potential to be a good center fielder as well. Could be a Rocco Baldelli – lite if he lives up to his potential.

12. RHP – Clayton Schrader -21 years old

A+ Frederick: 1-1, 1.13 ERA, 3 SV, 24 IP, 35 K, 19 BB
A Delmarva: 1-1, 2.05 ERA, 2 SV, 22 IP, 38 K, 13 BB

Schrader has moved quickly through the system and was performing very well before being shut down with some minor elbow discomfort. The Orioles didn’t want to take any chances so he’ll come back next season looking to continue where he left off. He’ll need to work on his command but he throws hard and strikes out alot of batters. He could be a set up man in a few years if things go right.

13. LHP – Eduardo Rodriguez – 18 years old

Short A Aberdeen: 0-0, 6.75 ERA, 4 IP, 4 K, BB
GCL Orioles: 1-1, 1.81 ERA, 44.2 IP, 46 K, 17 BB

Rodriguez came out of nowhere this year as a nice surprise. He pitched very well as a 17 year old in the Golf Coast League, striking out over a batter per inning. Hes a lanky lefty that could be a mid rotation starter if he can develop his off speed pitches. The Orioles have alot of decent upside pitchers in the low minors and he looks like one of the best of the bunch.

14. 1B – Tyler Townsend – 23 years old

A+ Frederick: .317/.358/.583, 24 doubles, 2 triples, 13 HR, 50 RBI, 2 SB, 252 AB
GCL Orioles: .235/.333/.529, 2 doubles, HR, 8 RBI, 17 AB

If Townsend could stay healthy he’d be in the top 10. Ever since being drafted hes been injured time and time again but when hes on the field, he rakes. He showed good power while maintaining a high average. His walks showed a steep decline which is odd considering he had decent walk rates the last couple years. It could be a fluke thing but he’ll need to work on it and stay healthy to reach the big leagues.

15. C – Gabriel Lino – 18 years old

GCL Orioles: .282/.371/.462, 6 doubles, triple, 2 HR, 11 RBI, SB, 78 AB

Lino could quickly shoot up this list next year if he keeps up this production as he climbs up the ladder. He hit very well for as young as he is in the GCL, showed alot of plate discipline and some power. Similar to Jonathon Schoop last year, who is now one of the top guys in our system. He apparently has a very good arm behind the plate also. Small sample size but hes a dark horse in this system.

16. 2B – Greg Miclat – 24 years old

AA Bowie: .280/.371/.347, 16 doubles, 3 triples, 2 HR, 24 RBI, 50 SB, 421 AB

UPDATE: Traded to Texas as part of the Taylor Teagarden deal.

Miclat might’ve been the most improved player from 2010 to 2011. I was disappointed when the season started that the Orioles decided to leave LJ Hoes at A+ Frederick in favor of Miclat starting at second base for AA Bowie. I guess they saw something to lead to his semi breakout season. He showed a good ability to get on base and was an incredible 50/53 in stolen base attempts. He doesn’t give you much power but he can be a valuable bench player/fringe starter in the majors if he keeps up that production.

17. OF – Xavier Avery – 22 years old

AA Bowie: .259/.324/.343, 31 doubles, 2 triples, 4 HR, 26 RBI, 36 SB, 557 AB
AFL: .288/.378/.414, 4 doubles, 5 triples, 15 RBI, 9 SB, 111 AB

Avery still has alot of potential but his star is slowly fading as each season passes. Hes a great athlete with good speed and a solid frame but he doesn’t appear to be making much progress. I thought he would be able to translate his raw power into homeruns by now and while he steals alot of bases, he gets thrown out a bit more than the O’s would like. Another bad sign is that it looks like he’ll be limited to left field as he isn’t good enough to stick in center. His stats in the fall league are promising but hes going to have to translate them over a full season in 2012 to get back on the prospect map.

18. RHP – Mike Wright – 22 years old

A Delmarva: 1-1, 10.54 ERA, 13.2 IP, 12 K, 4 BB
Short A Aberdeen: 2-1, 3.77 ERA, 31 IP, 29 K, 6 BB
GCL Orioles: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, IP, K, 0 BB

Wright was a third round pick in the 2011 draft. I think the Orioles intend on trying him out as a starter but I’d prefer to see him in the bullpen as I think thats where he’ll end up. The starter experiment will only slow down his ascent to the majors. His ceiling is a set up man but he could be a valuable part of the bullpen relatively quickly. He doesn’t have any dominant pitches but has a nice mix of four to keep batters guessing.

19. RHP – Jaime Esquivel – 19 years old

Short A Aberdeen: 0-1, 1.80 ERA, 5 IP, 8 K, 4 BB
GCL Orioles: 5-1, 0.95 ERA, 47.1 IP, 39 K, 15 BB

I’m not sure how good Esquivel’s raw stuff is, he didn’t have a great K/BB ratio, but its hard to argue with those stats. His strikeout rate wasn’t bad by any means but not good enough to think he’d have an ERA around 1.00. Hes another intriguing low minors arm that the Orioles have a bunch of. These guys will be fun to watch in 2012 as they either blossom or become forgotten again.

20. RHP – Oliver Drake – 25 years old

AAA Norfolk: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 IP, 2 K, BB
AA Bowie: 3-5, 5.20 ERA, 64 IP, 47 K, 24 BB
A+ Frederick: 8-3, 2.14 ERA, 96.2 IP, 80 K, 18 BB

Drake is a little old to be a prospect, especially since he only spent less than half the season at AA, but he has interesting stuff. Hes a groundball pitcher that showed a consistent ability to pitch late in games. He struggled mightily to start the season at AA Bowie, was demoted and dominated, then looked alot better with his second go round at AA. His future probably lies in the bullpen where an uptick in stuff could result in him looking like a poor man’s Jim Johnson. As a starter I think he profiles as a slightly lesser Brad Bergesen.

21. RHP – Kyle Simon – 21 years old

A Delmarva: 0-2, 4.15 ERA, 8.2 IP, 7 K, 2 BB
Short A Aberdeen: 1-0, 0.00 ERA, SV, 8 IP, 2 K, 3 BB

Simon was the 4th pick in this years draft and profiles pretty similarly to Mike Wright. The difference is the O’s plan on keeping Simon in the bullpen as he goes through the minors. He doesn’t throw four pitches like Wright but has a nice two pitch combo that could lead him to be a solid major league reliever. Not a ton of upside with guys like that but fairly safe bets to at least get major league at some point in the next couple years.

22. OF – Trent Mummey – 23 years old

A+ Frederick: .293/.369/.448, 2 doubles, 2 triples, HR, 10 RBI, 7 SB, 58 AB
A Delmarva: .291/.377/.509, 2 doubles, 2 triples, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 12 SB, 55 AB

Mummey was looking like he was going to have a break out season of sorts until he dove headfirst into the center field wall trying to make a catch. That changed everything as he didn’t play another game after that. Its not a career threatening injury and he’ll be ready for the start of the 2012 season but who knows how that will effect him. He has a nice speed/power combo for a center fielder and if he picks up where he left off he might just turn 2012 into his break out season.

23. OF – Matt Angle – 26 years old

MLB: .177/.293/.266, 4 doubles, HR, 7 RBI, 11 SB, 79 AB
AAA Norfolk: .271/.347/.344, 13 doubles, 3 triples, 4 HR, 33 RBI, 27 SB, 424 AB

Angle doesn’t have much upside at all, hes pretty much is at his peak right now, but what he can give you is speed, hustle, and good defense. Thats pretty valuable for a bench player in the major leagues as a fourth or fifth outfielder. He doesn’t have any power but can get on base and put the ball in play. Hes basically the anti-Felix Pie as he does all the little things right and you don’t have to worry about him making many boneheaded mistakes. He might start the 2012 season back with AAA Norfolk but hes a good guy to have in the system at the ready.

24. RHP – David Baker – 20 years old

A Delmarva: 3-4, 2.82 ERA, 54.1 IP, 48 K, 19 BB
Short A Aberdeen: 1-2, 2.45 ERA, 25.2 IP, 23 K, 8 BB

Baker was pretty unheralded coming into the season but did a pretty remarkable job once he got on the field with Short A Aberdeen. He pitched very well for them but I figured once he got a bump up in competition he would struggle a little. He proved me wrong by pretty much duplicating his numbers after a promotion to A Delmarva but over double the innings. His stuff isn’t spectacular but he has a good feel for pitching and is still very young. We’ll see if he can sustain that success next season at A+ Frederick.

25. 1B – Joe Mahoney – 25 years old

AA Bowie: .289/.344/.502, 24 doubles, 5 triples, 11 HR, 67 RBI, 7 SB, 315 AB
A+ Frederick: .500/.667/.750, 2 doubles, 2 RBI, 8 AB
AFL: .325/.360/.542, 6 doubles, 4 HR, 22 RBI, 83 AB

Mahoney was the Orioles minor league player of the year in 2010 but had a pretty disappointing year in 2011. His stat line looks good but he couldn’t really stay healthy and he was repeating AA. I wanted to get a look at him with AAA Norfolk to see if his bat was ready for the more advanced arsenals of international league pitchers. We’ll have to find out in 2012 instead and hes another year older. Its looking more and more like hes another Brandon Snyder that peaked in AA.

Others worth mentioning: RHP Ryan Berry, RHP Miguel Chalas, LHP Matt Bywater, RHP Tyler Wilson, RHP Sebastian Vader, LHP Jacob Petitt, LHP Cameron Coffey, RHP Steve Johnson, C Caleb Joseph

O’s Trade For Backup Catcher

December 1, 2011

UPDATE: Greg Miclat was named as the PTBNL. That downgrades the trade for me. I had Miclat rated as the Orioles 16th best prospect heading into next season. I was fine with giving up an arm or two like Henry but a guy like Miclat is too much for a guy u can usually sign as a free agent. Not the end of the world but it’s a little disappointing. Duquette may just be getting rid of players he doesn’t like for whatever reason so he can bring in his own guys.

The Orioles traded RHP Randy Henry and a player to be named later to the Texas Rangers for C Taylor Teagarden. LHP Pedro Viola was removed from the 40 man roster.

Dan Duquette decided to trade for our backup catcher instead of signing one of the free agents out there. Depending on the player to be named I like the trade. Henry is a 21 year old hard throwing reliever who pitched for A Delmarva and A+ Frederick this year while missing some time with an arm injury. Hes had injury issues the last couple years. For Delmarva he had a 1.67 ERA over 37.2 innings with 29 strikeouts and 6 walks before getting promoted and pitching to a 3.60 ERA over 15 innings with 11 strikeouts and 2 walks for Frederick. If he can stay healthy he could make it to a big league bullpen by the end of next year, but thats a big if. He also has to improve his secondaries. Apparently the PTBNL will also be from the lower minors. Who it ends up being will determine how I really feel about this move.

Teagarden is regarded as a good defensive catcher who calls a good game. He was a third round pick and was a well regarded prospect at one point. In the minors hes put up some good offensive numbers but hasn’t been able to maintain that at the big league level. He has some power and is a definite upgrade from Craig Tatum as backup catcher, plus he has upside. For AAA Round Rock he hit .285/.376/.589 with 4 doubles, 3 triples, 12 HR, and 22 RBI over 151 at bats. He didn’t fare as well with the Rangers, hitting .235/.278/.294 with 2 doubles and 2 RBI over 34 at bats. If nothing else Duquette seems to be trying to add depth to the organization, which is something we’ve sorely missed over the years.