|Original Published Date: Nov. 19, 2013|
After making the playoffs in 2012, the Orioles took a step back in 2013 as their pitching ultimately failed them. I’m sure GM Dan Duquette was counting on Dylan Bundy stepping in and providing the kind of impact that Gerrit Cole and Michael Wacha provided for the Pirates and Cardinals, but a torn UCL ended his season early.
While the injury to Bundy clearly hurt the overall quality of the system, there is still premium impact talent. Look no further than the first round tandem of Kevin Gausman and Hunter Harvey. Both have top-of-the-rotation potential with Gausman having a real shot to leave Spring Training as one of the top starters for the Orioles. While Hunter is two to three years away, the ceiling is just as high.
Henry Urrutia and Jonathan Schoop are the top two positional players in the system and both have impact ceilings. Urritia had a taste of the big leagues in 2013 and has nothing left to prove in the minors. While still very young, Schoop has 20 plus home run potential with the ability to play all infield positions. Both should see significant playing time in Baltimore in 2014.
While the Orioles will likely add depth through free agency or the trade market, there is clearly talent in their system to help the ball club in 2014. In fact, most organizations don’t have the talent of Gausman, Urrutia, and Schoop waiting in the wings.
|2014 Age: 21||Ceiling: #1 starter|
|Ht: 6-1 Weight: 195||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2012|
While you can make an argument for Kevin Guasman, even Hunter Harvey as the number one prospect in the Orioles system, I went with Dylan Bundy. It’s not a safe pick as Bundy is recovering from Tommy John Surgery (TJS). However, he’s still one of the few pitchers in the minors that have ace potential.
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. The Orioles did have him drop his cutter as organizationally, they wanted him to focus on fastball command. However, if he adds this back to the mix down the road, that will give him yet another above-average pitch.
From a pitching mechanics standpoint, Bundy’s are outstanding. I know…then how did he blow out his elbow? Short answer…I don’t know and more importantly, nobody does. Maybe certain players are more pre-disposed for injury. Maybe, God didn’t mean for an arm to throw an upper 90’s fastball with a mid to upper-80’s slider. I just don’t know. That said, Bundy’s mechanics allow him to repeat his delivery and that should lead to him throwing strikes. With his arsenal and the potential to command it, is why his ceiling still remains an ace.
Based on the timing of Bundy’s surgery, the best case scenario is a June/July return to the mound. That doesn’t mean he’ll be back pitching in the Majors by the all-star break. The Orioles will likely bring him back slowly in the minors with a chance for a handful of starts for the Orioles in August. He’ll also be on a strict innings limit and will unlikely see more than 60-70 innings total in 2014.
Fantasy Impact: If you own Bundy in a Dynasty League, you have to hold on to him as nobody will be offering full value, or the potential for full value. If you are in a shallow keeper league, then you have to throw him back given the contribution in 2014 and associated risk. Bottom line…the ceiling is still a number one. The floor is he doesn’t recover fully from his surgery and never makes it out of the minor leagues. If you don’t think that can happen, read my scouting report on John Lamb.
|2014 Age: 23||Ceiling: #2 starter|
|Ht: 6-3 Weight: 190||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2012|
With Dylan Bundy on the shelf with a torn UCL, the Orioles summoned Kevin Gausman in late May to add some much needed depth to their starting rotation. The results were mixed and the Orioles were forced to option him back to Triple-A on June 14th with a 7.66 ERA in five major league starts.
It wasn’t all bad for the number four overall pick in the 2012 draft. He threw hard with his four-seam fastball averaging 96.69 MPH. It had decent movement but was hit hard implying that batters were picking it up very well. His 84 MPH change-up looked to be his best pitched with great sink and fade. He also threw a slider that graded out as average, but also came in at comparable speed to his change-up. The bottom line is his arsenal still has the ceiling of at least a number two starter at the highest level.
Part of the reason for the early promotion to Baltimore was Gausman’s dominance of Double-A. He had a 49K/5BB strikeout-to-walk-ratio in 46.1 innings which equated to a sub 1.00 walk-per-nine rate. While he struggled with his command early in the big leagues, the end result after 47.2 innings was an impressive 2.45 walk per nine.
Gausman’s pitching mechanics support his pinpoint control. His timing is excellent and he is able to repeat his delivery. It’s not perfect as he hunches over on his delivery, losing some downward plane from his 6-foot-3 frame as well as degraded balance. It’s not terrible by any stretch, but does show there is potentially more upside on the command.
Gausman should compete for a spot on Baltimore’s 2014 opening day starting rotation. He has the arsenal and command to pitch at the top-of-the-rotation. While he’s young and therefore will likely struggle with consistency, Gausman’s has tremendous talent and upside.
Fantasy Impact: I’m drafting Gausman in a re-draft league in 2014 as he’ll likely be discounted given his struggle as a starter in 2013. Remember, fantasy owners are still smarting from picking him up in late May, just to watch him implode for seven earned runs in four innings against the Nationals. He’s better than that and should be a 2014 sleeper. In a Dynasty League, he’s gold.
|2014 Age: 19||Ceiling: #2 starter|
|Ht: 6-3 Weight: 175||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2015-16|
Taken as the 22nd overall pick in the 2013 draft, Hunter Harvey’s upside is significant and could ultimately be viewed as one of the real bargains in that draft.
While his professional debut was only 25.1 innings across the GCL and New York Penn League, the results were impressive. He struck out 33 while walking six and didn’t yield a long ball. He did it with a three pitch mix that starts with a plus fastball that sits 92-94 MPH with a lot of late life because of his excellent momentum to the plate. With a high three-quarters delivery, he also gets a lot of downward plane and makes his 6-foot-3 frame play taller.
His primary secondary pitch is a monster – a hard curve that sits 79-80 MPH that is going to really miss bats. The most impressive thing is that he can throw it for strikes. It’s not a bury me in the dirt pitch but instead he’s able to start it middle-in, just to have to it paint the corners for either a called or swinging strike. In the outing I saw, he only threw the change-up four times. It looked ok, but pales in comparison to his other two pitches.
What impresses me the most about Harvey is his delivery – it’s clean and easy but yet he can pop 95 MPH. He has very good posture, staying on top of the ball, which is helping to enhance the quality of his curve ball. He also is able to repeat his delivery by having above-average momentum to the plate. I know it was rookie ball, but the stats are not lying.
The Orioles will likely send Harvey to Delmarva to start the 2014 season. With his mature arsenal and excellent control, he’ll likely wind up the season in High-A or possibly Double-A. Turning 19-years-old in December, the future is really bright for Harvey.
Fantasy Impact: Hunter Harvey has the ceiling of a number two starter and he could move quickly through the system. He’s likely a top 50 prospect for me and one of the more intriguing arms in the entire minor leagues.
|2014 Age: 27||Ceiling: Role 5
|Ht:6-5 Weight: 200||Bats: Left Throws: Right||ETA: 2013|
Cuban émigré Henry Urrutia began his professional baseball career at the age of 26 in Bowie Maryland. That’s a long way from way from Las Tunas Cuba in both distance and culture.
Urrutia has hit everywhere he has played. He hit in Cuba and posted great numbers in two stops in the minors with a .347/.406/.506 slash line with nine home runs. It was good enough that the Orioles promoted him on July 20th and he did ok; batting .276 in 58 at-bats. He makes great contact and has a mature approach at the plate as is evident from his 51K/32BB strikeout-to-walk ratio in 314 minor league at-bats.
When I had a chance to scout him this fall in Arizona, he was one of the more polished hitters in the league. The bat speed and approach were excellent while also showing surprising power. In the game in which he hit a grand slam; a dead center poke that went about 430 feet, he also hit too other long drives that were quite impressive.
At 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds, Urrutia really has the look of a baseball player. He’s not chiseled like Puig or Cespedes but has more length. That length leads to some odd looking swings but in the end, it works. At age 27, Urrutia is at his physical maturity and I believe 2013 is what we can expect for the next three to four years – a good player with an above-average hit-tool, average power, very little speed, and a left-field profile.
Fantasy Impact: Urrutia is a fourth outfielder in a deep dynasty league. He’ll be able to contribute in batting average, OBP, runs, with 10-15 home runs; a Nick Markakis type of ceiling. Assuming he gets full-time at-bats in 2014, I think he could post a .300 batting average with 15 home runs with plenty of runs and RBIs.
|2014 Age: 22||Ceiling: Role 5-6
|Ht:6-2 Weight: 210||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2013|
A long-time favorite of mine, Jonathan Schoop made his major league debut for Baltimore in September after an up-and-down year.
The season started off well for the 21-year-old from Curacao, but a stress fracture in his back led to an extensive stint on the disabled list. He still managed to log 267 at-bats in Triple-A, slugging nearly .400 while hitting nine home runs. Yes, not overly impressive, but Schoop is still very young and is still growing into his power.
He has bat speed and nice leverage in his swing; and the two together should yield plus future power. While he’s an aggressive hitter, he makes very good contact (80% in Triple-A) but is also not just up there hacking. He has an approach and is able to fight off very good pitches. In particularly, when he gets two-strikes, he shortens up on his swing and can be a very difficult out.
Schoop came up as a shortstop but will likely play third or second in the majors. While Manny Machado is currently a mainstay at third, don’t be surprised if Schoop starts the season there as Machado recovers and rehabs from knee surgery. An eventual move to second seems likely.
Fantasy Impact: Schoop’s ceiling is a solid regular major leaguer with the upside of 20-25 home runs and a .270 batting average. He likely will not help you in on-base percentage leagues and is not a speedster. Expect less than five stolen bases. He should be a nice middle infielder in the mold of J.J. Hardy.
|2014 Age: 21||Ceiling: #3 starter|
|Ht: 6-2 Weight: 200||Bats: Left Throws:Left
Eduardo Rodriguez took a nice step-up in 2013 after making improvements to his secondary pitches, particularly his slider. While he doesn’t have the upside of the “Big three”, he could be a very effective mid-rotation starter.
His arsenal is solid with a fastball that sits 90-92 MPH and can touch higher. The change-up is his best off-speed pitch and sits 84-86 MPH. He also throws a slider, but is it’s very inconsistent.
When I had a chance to see him in the AFL, he pitched three innings but didn’t have his best stuff. He had trouble commanding his fastball in the first and wound up walking two before Kris Bryant hit an oppo bullet to plate a run. He fastball was only sitting 90-91 MPH and it he didn’t throw an off-speed pitch until well through the first. Once he started to introduce his change-up, he settled down and started to miss more bats. Plus, his fastball ticked up as he got into the third and touched 93 on his final pitch; a strikeout of Tyler Collins.
Rodriguez pitching mechanics are smooth and the ball leaves his hand easily. He finishes off his pitches well and has good momentum. There is a little cross-fire in his delivery and that extra bit of deception will only help his stuff play-up.
Rodriguez should begin the year back in Double-A as he only logged 59.2 innings over the summer. Plus, he’ll likely be one of the youngest pitchers in the league as he just turns 21-years-old in April
Fantasy Impact: Rodriguez has a chance to make the back-end of our Top 100 list. I don’t see him as a must own in all Dynasty League formats, but he’s a pitcher that could provide 7-7.5 strikeouts per nine with better than league average ratios.
|2014 Age: 24||Ceiling: #4 starter|
|Ht: 6-6 Weight: 215||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2014-15|
Selected in the third round of the 2011 draft out of East Carolina University, Mike Wright has been making steady progress through the Orioles system and is getting close to a promotion to Baltimore.
At 6-foot-6 and 215 pounds, Wright is a presence on the mound. His arsenal is solid with a fastball that sits 91-93 MPH but can touch higher when he needs to rare back for more juice. The fastball has a lot of natural sink that he gets from the extreme downward plane which is resulting in a nice ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio of 2.07 in 304.2 minor innings. His best secondary pitch is a slider that has real swing and miss potential. He also throws a fringy change-up.
His pitching mechanics are interesting. He takes a very long and deliberate stride in his delivery, which looks like it would provide great momentum but it actually doesn’t. He’s losing a lot of kinetic energy in the delivery and that’s actually causing his fastball to lose a little life. It’s also causing some balance problems. He’s got the arm strength and could potential pick up some velocity if he tightens up his release.
Wright should start 2014 in Triple-A and should be option for the Orioles at some point during the year. He has the classic arsenal and mechanics of a back-of-the-rotation pitcher or possible a seventh or eighth inning bullpen arm.
Fantasy Impact: Wright is only draftable in the deepest of Dynasty Leagues or deep 2014 AL-Only Leagues. He could provide decent strikeout totals but will struggle to provide league average ratios; particularly in WHIP.
8. Michael Ohlman (C)
Drafted in 2009, Michael Ohlman’s career has been interrupted by injury and two drug suspensions (recreational drugs). Finally in 2013, he played an entire year and showed the potential that Orioles saw in him four years ago. He posted an outstanding .313/.410/.524 slash line with 13 home runs in 361 at-bats in the Carolina League. He showed a mature approach with a 15.5% walk-per-nine rate while posting a decent 75% contact rate.
I had a chance to see him in the Arizona Fall League and while the swing is long, he has above-average raw power. In fact, I saw him hit a long bomb on a 91 MPH fastball off Philadelphia farm hand Mike Nessath. Defensively, he has a long way to go and the Orioles might consider moving him to another position. He should start the year in Double-A and has a fringe-average or second division starter ceiling.
9. Josh Hart (OF)
Taken in the supplemental round of the 2013 draft, Josh Hart is an athletic high-school draftee with plus speed and 30-grade power. While he’s not small at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds, he has a quick twitch body instead of one that will be able to put on weight and mash. The swing is simple and compact and his 80% contact rate he made in his first 133 at-bats is a reasonable baseline. Hopefully, his .286 slugging will improve to a mid .300 slugging percentage.
10. Branden Kline (RHP)
Taken in the second round of the 2012 draft out of the University of Virginia, Branden Kline throws hard with his fastball sitting 92-94 MPH. However, he doesn’t get a lot of momentum in his delivery, so the fastball plays down a grade. He does get nice plane on his pitches and this was shown in his 3.11 ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio in 47.1 innings. He has a ceiling of a back-of-the-rotation starter or a bullpen arm.
2014 Emerging Prospect:
Chance Sisco (C)
Taken in the second round of the 2013 draft as a high-school talent, Chance Sisco brings an advanced feel to hitting which he showed by batting .371 in 97 at-bats in the GCL. He has bat speed with the ability to make solid contact and while you have to dream, there is future above-average power in the bat. Sisco is currently a catcher and most believe that he will stay there long-term. He’s an interesting prospect that will go as far as the bat takes him.