It’s no wonder no less than two potential candidates turned down the Orioles offer to be the new General Manager. The club lacks excitement at the big league level and features a system that falls off quickly after the big two at the top. That said, Machado and Bundy — the two at the top — are very legit prospects that should help lead the Orioles back to respectability once the reach the Major Leagues.
1. Manny Machado (SS)
Machado is one of the best infield prospects in the game and that status comes on the heels of his enormous offensive ceiling. He has the potential to be an elite offensive performer, even if the maturation of his body forces him off shortstop. One scout I spoke with wanted to see more consistent effort for him, but that was the outlier in the information I received this season. Whether Machado remains at shortstop or moves to third base, he should profile as one of the best position player prospects in the game.
2. Dylan Bundy (RHP)
One of the top picks in the 2011 draft, Bundy was at one point thought to be in contention to go number one overall to the Pirates. He has an extreme level of polish for a high school pitcher and though that exists, he does not lack raw stuff. Some see a future ace in the making but I personally wonder where the next big step comes from and think he will be more of a number two starter on a first division club.
3. Nicky Delmonico (3B)
One scout I spoke with in the spring called Delmonico a “stud offensive talent” and a “potential plus hitter with power, average arm, above-average defense and a pro body.” Scouts remain mixed on where he should land defensively but there is no question about his offensive ceiling as a middle of the order hitter. Delmonico may require time to develop but the payoff could be worth the wait.
4. Jon Schoop (INF)
Schoop has the tools to play shortstop as he continues to move up the ladder but the presence of Machado has moved him off the position. He has the athleticism to play second and the instincts and strong arm to play third. Offensively he should be able to perform at either position but after seeing him a lot the last two years I believe he profiles better as an offensive minded everyday second baseman.
5. Robert Bundy (RHP)
The brother of first rounder Dylan Bundy, Robert is no slouch in his own right. I like him more than most scouts I spoke to this summer, envisioning a future number four starter with a slim chance to out-perform that projection. He has low-90s velocity and a quality breaking ball that helps him profile as a groundball machine with average swing-and-miss potential.
6. Parker Bridwell (RHP)
Heading into the 2011 season I was a huge Parker Bridwell fan and I still remain on the bandwagon, believing in the projection he offers. He can run his fastball up to 95 and has a curveball that can make hitters look silly. He lacks the ability to sequence his pitches and command the zone and those two attributes must come along for him to reach his ceiling as a mid-rotation starter.
7. Jason Esposito (3B)
Another third baseman drafted in 2011, Esposito was a standout player for Vanderbilt for the last couple of years. His defense earns unanimous plus grades for his hands, reactions, range, and arm strength, while his bat lags behind those lofty scores. While he has strength in his swing, Esposito is frequently not ready to hit early enough and finds himself behind even modest fastballs. If he can make adjustments he could become a solid hitter with plus defense and profile as an everyday player.
8. Dan Klein (RHP)
Klein could be the number two pitcher in this system behind Dylan Bundy if it weren’t for a horrific injury history. Klein’s fastball, curveball and change-up all receive at least above-average grades from scouts and he shows an uncanny ability to throw strikes with all three. While he could be a number three starter with his raw stuff, his injury concerns leaving him profiling better in the eighth inning.
9. Ryan Adams (2B)
There is nothing sexy about Adams’ game but he should be a big league contributor, particularly for a team looking to rebuild like the Orioles. He has enough offense to hold down a job at second base, even though he takes advantage of at-bats against lefties more than he does anything against right-handers. His defense is fringe-average at best and may decline as he continues to mature physically. He’s as close to a finished product as you will see and he should spend considerable time in the big leagues in 2012.
10. Mike Wright (RHP)
Scouts that like Wright believe he could be a legitimate number three starter. When I saw him in college I saw that potential in flashes only but recognize that it exists. At worst he could be a back of the rotation starter that helps a club every fifth day. He offers a power sinker along with a slider and change-up that both earn 55 grades on a regular basis. I like the change-up more than the slider and believe it could be a plus pitch in time.
11. LJ Hoes (OF)
Hoes is an excellent natural hitter that can use the whole field and could profile as a 60 to 70-grade hitter when he settles in at the big league level. He has been moved to the outfield and lacks the ability for anything but left field and the offensive profile leaves a lot to be desire that far down the defensive spectrum. He could be a useful fourth outfielder over the next few years.
12. Eduardo Rodriguez (LHP)
A plus curveball gives him some swing-and-miss ability at the back of a rotation and he has enough fastball to complete that projection. If his change-up more consistently shows in the average range he will lose the stigma of a future bullpen lefty and profile as a workhorse in the Orioles rotation.
13. Michael Ohlman (C)
I am admittedly higher on Ohlman than most scouts and media analysts. I have regularly witnessed an above-average athlete that has some subtle tools that give him a big league profile; albeit as a backup. Ohlman has good arm strength and handles a game well to along with enough bat speed to drive the ball in limited at-bats. He will never be a star but he could be a valuable bench piece on any team.
14. Xavier Avery (OF)
Avery has plenty of tools including speed, athleticism and natural strength. His swing mechanics are a mess by nearly any observation and his swing-at-everything approach doesn’t help make up for any mechanical deficiencies. He can handle the any of the three outfield positions but his profile is helped most if he develops himself into a plus defender in center field.
15. Gabriel Lino (C)
Lino is lauded for his plus defensive abilities including a quick transfer, excellent footwork and a plus to plus-plus arm. He already receives well and handles the pitching staff with aplomb. His bat has yet to make such strides but he has strength and can put a charge in the ball on occasion. If the bat comes alive as he develops he could be a solid regular behind the plate.