Baltimore Orioles

Original Published Date: Nov. 11 2012

When I profile a team, I usually have 20-25 names that I’m researching and debating to put into the Top 10.  However, with the Orioles, it was a real struggle.  After the first three names, the talent drops off considerably and outside of the top five players on the list, I’m not sure the Orioles have any players within their minor league system that can significantly contribute in the Major Leagues.

The top of the list is stacked with Dylan Bundy leading the way.  In my opinion, Bundy is the best pitching prospect since Stephen Strasburg.  He has a tremendous arsenal to go with excellent mechanics and all he really lacks is experience to control the package.  He probably needs another half season or longer of grooming, but I would not be surprised to see Bundy break camp with the Orioles for the 2013 season.

Kevin Gausman was the Orioles first round pick in the 2012 draft and should be a quality major league pitcher with a number two ceiling if he can improve his breaking pitch.  While I like the fastball and change-up combination, an above average slider or curve is critical for major league success.

Finally, there’s Jonathan Schoop; who I like more than most.  I think Schoop is going to hit and hit with 20-25 home run power at the highest level.  While some are concerned about his ultimate position, I believe he can either play second or third in the majors and even has the skills to play short.  The Orioles have been extremely aggressive with Schoop and I believe that will continue.

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1. Dylan Bundy (RHP)

2013 Age: 20 BP: Oklahoma
Ht: 6-1 Weight: 195 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2012
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2012 A-Maj 103.2 67 24 6 2.43 10.33 2.08 0.92

The $4 million dollars that the Orioles used to sign 19 year old Dylan Bundy in 2011 is starting to look like a real bargain.  Bundy was overwhelmingly dominate during his 20 games across Low-A and High-A where he struck out 106 while walking 20.  He was then moved to Double-A for three games at the end of the season before making his Major League debut in September.   Talk about a year…

Leading up to the 2011 draft, reports surfaced that Bundy’s arsenal and polish was so advanced that he was nearly Major League ready.  Being the skeptic, I simply said…”Sure, I’ve heard this story before”.  However, when I got a chance to see him pitch, I started saying the same thing.  The velocity, the movement, the deep arsenal and most importantly, a very easy delivery had me convinced that Bundy might be the best pitcher in the draft – by far.  Based on 2012, he might be the best pitching prospect since Stephen Strasburg.

Bundy’s arsenal is deep with a fastball that sits 95-96 MPH with nice movement, a hard slider that is at least a plus offering, an upper 70’s curve that is absolutely a beautiful pitch, and a change-up that might just be his best offering.  He hasn’t been throwing the two-seamer or cutter since being drafted; as the Orioles want him to focus on commanding his other pitches.  While a lot of people have criticized the Orioles for not allowing him to throw his cutter, it doesn’t matter how deep your arsenal is if you can’t command your fastball and throw your secondary pitches for strikes. I think the approach makes sense as inconsistent command is the only thing left for Bundy to master.

I like to stress pitching mechanics in my pitcher evaluation as in the end, it’s what allows pitchers to command their arsenal and ultimately be successful.  Bundy’s mechanics are a thing of beauty.  His posture is great, which in combination with his high three-quarters delivery, allows him to pitch with a downward plane even though he is only 6-foot-1.  The balance is also great with Bundy finishing his pitches very well.  Finally, the delivery is easy and smooth with very little wasted energy.  To me, he looks like a Major League pitcher.

The big question is where Dylan Bundy will start 2013.  While he could start in the Orioles rotation, don’t be surprised if the Orioles start him back in Double-A or Triple-A for more seasoning.  His fastball command isn’t great and he still doesn’t find the strike zone consistently with his secondary pitches.  That said, unless the Orioles make an offseason move, he might be their best pitcher.

Fantasy Impact:  Bundy’s upside is a top five fantasy pitcher with elite strikeout totals and great ratios.  I don’t expect him to dominate as Strasburg immediately did, but by the 2015 season, you could start to see him reach his full potential.  If you’re in a new Dynasty League, I would treat him as a Top 20 overall pitcher (including major league talent).

2. Kevin Gausman (RHP)

2013 Age: 22 BP: Colorado
Ht: 6-4 Weight: 185 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2014
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2012 SS-A+ 15.0 11 6 3 0.60 7.80 3.60 0.80

Kevin Gausman was the first pitcher taken off the board in the 2012 draft with a pedigree as a polished pitcher that will work through the minor leagues quickly.  While I think Gausman is going to be a fine Major League pitcher, I think there is still a lot of development needed for him to reach his potential of a number two starter.

First the positives:  Gausman has nice size at 6-foot-4 but needs to be put weight onto his 185 pound frame.   His fastball is a plus offering sitting in the mid 90’s and touching higher.  His best off-speed pitch is a change-up that is going to get a lot of strikeouts.  Finally, he’s got a non-traditional delivery that reminds me a little bit of Kevin Brown.  It’s a high-leg kick that then comes straight at the batter and given his lack of girth, it looks like all arms and legs.  I’m guessing it provides deception and helps his arsenal play up.

My biggest concern with Gausman is he doesn’t have a quality breaking pitch.  I think I’ve seen him throw 50 curves and hardly any of them have been for strikes and the shape and depth is poor.  His slider is not much better and looks more like a throw-away pitch to me, in other words he’s trying to get batters to simply chase a pitch he can’t throw for strikes.  This arsenal might work in the lower minors, but as he moves through the organization, he’ll need to develop his slider to be successful.

Fantasy Impact: Gausman is good but something about him bothers me.  It could be the funky delivery or lack of a breaking pitch, or a combination of the two, but I don’t think he’s an elite pitcher and therefore I would discount him in a Dynasty Draft.

3. Jonathan Schoop (SS/2B/3B)

2013 Age: 21 BP: Curacao
Ht:6-1  Weight: 195 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2013-14
2012 AA 485 68 14 56 5 .245 .324 78.8 10.3 .282

I really like Jonathan Schoop and believe he has a chance to be a contributor at the major league level as soon as next year.  While I don’t believe he has an all-star ceiling, I believe he will grow into a solid regular with power, nice on-base percentage, and good defense.

I’ve listed Schoop’s position as SS/2B/3B for a reason.  First, he’s primarily played shortstop or when partnered with Manny Machado, second base.  He’s a nice defender with the ability to pick it and a plus arm that can work at shortstop or third.  I know the Orioles would like to see him play at second, but I question whether Schoop is athletic enough to play there long-term.  If you’ve ever seen him run, you know what I mean by “not being athletic enough”.  It’s one of the more mechanical strides I’ve ever seen and in fact, I find myself staring at it, almost in disbelief and slight amusement.  Ultimately, I think he profiles at third.

As a hitter, I really like Schoop.  He makes nice contact and is able to take a walk as is evident by his 10% walk rate in Double-A.  While people will look at his .245 batting average and 10 home runs and be disappointed, remember the Orioles were very aggressive with him in 2012 and he was the third youngest player in the Eastern League.  His swing is compact and he gets a lot of torque out of his lower half which I think will translate into plus power down the road or 20-25 home runs with a .280 batting average at the highest level.

Fantasy Impact: Schoop is one of those under-the-radar prospects that I’ve been putting on my Dynasty Leagues.  He will be a top 100 prospect and I’ll probably stuff him higher than most as I really believe in the bat.  He will not get you many steals, so his fantasy value will be limited by that.  However, you should be able to get him cheap in a Dynasty League draft.  I say – go for it.

4. Eduardo Rodriguez (LHP)

2013 Age: 20 BP: Venezuela
Ht: 6-2 Weight: 175 Bats: Left Throws: Left ETA: 2015-16
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2012 LowA 107.0 103 44 4 2.52 6.14 3.70 1.24

Eduardo Rodriguez is not a household name and in fact, I stumbled on him by accident when I was scouting Dylan Bundy.  However, the more I watched him the more I liked what I saw.

Rodriguez primarily throws a two-seam fastball that sits in the low 90’s, but I’ve clocked it as high as 94 when he needs to rare back.   The fastball really stays down in the zone producing a ton of ground balls (G/F was 2.16 in 2012).  His breaking pitch is average but I think it can improve as he matures.  In fact, as I was watching one start, I commented that his breaking pitch still needed work, which one scout told me that I should have seen it last year; it was greatly improved.  He didn’t throw his change-up often, but when he did, it looked ok.  Not a great pitch at the moment, but has potential.

Mechanically, Rodriguez looks really good.  His posture is fine, allowing him to maintain downward plane on his pitches.  His delivery is smooth and his balance on his landing is superb.  This is allowing him to repeat his delivery and is responsible for his 2.52 BB/9 that he posted in 2012.  His mechanics remind me a little of the late Oriole left-hander Mike Flanagan – very fluid and smooth.

Fantasy Impact: Eduardo Rodriguez is not yet draftable in a Dynasty League but he’s an intriguing prospect that needs to be monitored.

5. Xavier Avery (OF)

2013 Age: 22 BP: Georgia
Ht:6-0  Weight: 190 Bats: Left Throws: Left ETA: 2012
2012 AAA 390 57 8 34 22 .236 .330 72.8 13.1 .301

Drafted out of high school in 2008, Xavier Avery made his major league debut in 2012 and showed off both his strengths and weaknesses in his 32 big league games.  He played nice defense by running down most balls hit near him, stole six bases and even hit a bomb.  However, he also batted .223 and struck out 23 times in 94 at-bats.

In a nut shell, Avery is an elite athletic who has yet to develop his hit-tool.  In looking at his swing, you can see the bat speed and the balance, but he simply can’t hit a breaking pitch and seems to be guessing at the plate too much.  This is a struggle for many multi-sport athletes who in high school never had a chance to focus on baseball and therefore the hit tool is immature.  So the big question is will the tool develop?  The short answer is that nobody knows, but I think it has a chance.

Fantasy Impact: Avery could be a better fantasy player than a baseball player primarily due to his speed.  However, until he starts to demonstrate the ability to get on base consistently, I would not draft him in a Dynasty League.

6. Nick Delmonico (1B)

After drafting Nicky Delmonico in the sixth round of the 2011 draft, the Baltimore Orioles aggressively started his professional career in the full season SALLY League.  Delmonico held his own by batting .249 with a 78% contact rate to accompany a 14% walk rate.  While his swing is long and the bat speed is not great, he clearly has an idea of what he is doing at the plate and that probably accounts for the success he had.  With Delmonico you have to balance natural athleticism with advanced baseball skills.  We should find out next year as moves to High-A whether he has the talent to achieve at the highest level.  At this time, I’m skeptical.

7. L.J. Hoes (OF)

If you combined L.J. Hoes and Xavier Avery together, you’d have a pretty good ball player.  While Avery lacks an above average hit tool, Hoes has a pretty empty hit tool.  He has the ability to make contact and take a pitch (43K/34BB in 317 at-bats in Triple-A) which should play at the highest level, but he’s yet to develop much power.  Additionally, while he has some speed, he’s not effective at all on the base paths; stealing eight bases last year while getting caught seven times.  Unless he develops some power, Hoes is a classic up and down player who will probably have a brief career as a fifth outfielder.

8. Branden Kline (RHP)

Drafted in the second round of the 2012 draft, Branden Kline had a nice career at the University of Virgina with a lifetime 16-5 record with 206 strikeouts in 201 innings but walking 85.  While Kline has good size, his posture is poor causing his balance to be off which leads to an inconsistent release point and poor control.  Hopefully this can be resolved through the development process but given his stuff, his ceiling is a back end of the rotation starter or middle reliever.

9. Adrian Marin (SS)

Drafted in the third round of the 2012 draft, Adrian Marin was selected primarily due to his defensive abilities. The Orioles are hopeful that they can work with him to develop an average hit-tool so that he can play at the highest level.  He does have some speed but the approach and hitting mechanics need a lot of work in order for him to take advantage of the tool.  He’s athletic and young, so he makes my top 10.

10. Parker Bridwell (RHP)

I thought Parker Bridwell would have a breakout year in 2012, but instead he regressed.  In fact, it’s generous that he made my Top 10 list but he does have a nice arm, he just can’t control his stuff.  Part of the challenge is that he’s a sinker baller and it usually takes time to throw the two-seamer for strikes.  In 2012, the results were not good as he had a 71K/63BB strikeout-to-walk ratio in 114.1 innings in the SALLY League.  He also left a lot of his breaking pitches up as he allowed 15 home runs.  At the moment, you have to dream on the arm and hope he learns to control his stuff.

9 comments on “Baltimore Orioles

  1. Rich, Can you give us any information you may have on Outfielder Henry Urrutia.

    • Eric,
      Sorry, just found your question. Urrutia is a Cuban outfielder that I have had a chance to see. Advanced feel for hitting with some power (10-12). He’s 26-years-old, so he doesn’t have Puig upside, but he should be a second-division starter – maybe a fourth outfielder.

  2. Thanks. Given the tough outing in his debut yesterday, he might be destined for left-handed specialist.

  3. Can you share anything about Zach Britton?

    • If you watch his delivery closely, it’s a little odd. As he strides to the plate, he straightens his leg out and this looses momentum to the plate and causes him to short-arm the ball. So what does this mean??? Well, it’s preferred to have extension as this allows your pitches to jump up more on the hitters. This level of deception really allows an arsenal to play up. Britton doesn’t have this and it makes his stuff much more hittable. Secondly, his control has never been great and if you put it all together, you have a guy who is struggling to be successful at the highest levels.

      Ultimately, he needs to make some fundamental changes or he’ll be a left-handed specialist or worse.

  4. I love these write-ups and rankings. Perfectly tailored to a dynasty league player, such as myself. Quick question. I own Josh Rutledge. I am considering trading him for Schoop. Schoop will remain a cheap player for a couple more years than Rutledge will in our league. I know you like Schoop, but would trading Rutledge be too much? I’m just still uncertain about Rutledge due to his low BB% and high K%. And position eligibility is of no concern here. If you could let me know what you think that would be very helpful. Thanks!

    • I love Schoop as you know but his fantasy value will be limited by his lack of speed. I think he’ll hit and with some pop. Rutledge is an interesting case. He has a little pop in his bat, but I see him as a 10-12 home run ceiling. While he makes nice contact, he’s very aggressive and that could expose his BA. He does play in Coors, so you’ve got to account for that. The biggest difference is that Rutledge played well in the Majors, even though I think he’s more of a utility guy going forward, his 2012 success gives him more current value than Schoop in a Dynasty League. You should be able to get more than Schoop for Rutledge and would push for that, even though 3 years down the road, I like Schoop more.

      • Thanks. I think you are right. Rutledge did have success and has a clear shot for playing time, so other than his plate discipline, there aren’t really any knocks against him.

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