Sunday, January 30, 2011

Orioles Top 10 Prospects for 2011: Part 2

6. Wynn Pelzer SP/RP - Wynn was the player the Orioles received in the Miguel Tejada trade last year with the San Diego Padres. The Orioles plan at moving Pelzer back to the rotation, although I feel as if he is destined to be a bullpen arm. He has a plus fastball and can be dominant at times. Command is his biggest problem however, and he will not go very far in his career without working on that. His ceiling is probably an MLB closer, with his floor being a AAAA pitcher.

7.  Mychal Givens SS - Givens was the Orioles 2nd round pick in the 2009 draft. He is a very toolsy player who excelled as a pitcher and SS in high school. The Orioles plan to keep him at SS, and he could turn into an above average SS eventually. Givens is still young, and a very raw talent. He missed a lot of time last year due to injury, and this year should give more of an indication on where he is from a growth perspective.

8. Ryan Adams 2B/3B - Adams is a fundamental player who has raised his own prospect stock the old fashioned way; excelling at every stop in the minors. He is not flashy by any means, but he is a plus defender and can hit for average. He may not become a starter in the MLB, but he could turn into a solid UTL player down the road. Either way, he is a good player to have in the organization.

9. Ryan Berry SP - The control heavy pitcher was drafted in the 9th round of the 2009 draft. As already mentioned, he relies on his great control to get outs and make up for his average repertoire. Berry can go as far as his control can take him. From the film I have seen on Berry, I would say that his main problem is when he does not attack the batter(you could say this for almost every young pitcher honestly). When Berry is on, he will not be afraid to attack the batter. I could see Berry being a back-end rotation kind of player.

10. Jonathan Schoop SS - Perhaps the most intriguing player on the list, Schoop has almost came out of nowhere and is starting to turn some heads. The Curacao native is a young and energetic SS who has the ability to succeed at the further levels of the game. He has shown above average power and defense, and he is one guy I am really excited about. He is only 18 and will be in Single A Frederick to start the 2011 season. With a good season, he could jump as far as 3rd on the Orioles prospect list, and even push for some top 100 prospect lists.

There you have it, the Orioles Top 10 2011 prospects.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Orioles Top 10 Prospects for 2011: Part 1

As I discussed yesterday the Orioles currently rank in the 20's in terms of their farm system. Being ranked so low overall also means that our top 10 prospect list is not very exciting. I'll write a little bit on our top 10, and what I think they have the potential to do, or not do.
I used BaseballAmerica for the prospect list.
-The first two on the list are technically 1a and 1b, in my opinion.

1. Manny Machado SS - The 3rd overall pick in the 2010 draft, Machado is an A-Rod clone. He may never hit for the top tier power that A-Rod did (35+ HR), but he should excel in every facet of the game. I would say this is about as close to a can't-miss prospect that the Orioles have had since well... Matt Wieters. He may eventually move away from SS due to his size, but he actually is an above average infielder. Look to see Machado in the MLB sooner rather than later.

2. Zachary Britton SP - He is the next and final piece of the so-called "cavalry" that the Orioles are relying on for their future success, and he may become the best out of all the cavalry. Britton was not a super highly touted prospect coming out of the draft (3rd Round), and he had a rough rookie season in Bluefield. But since then he has become one of the most dominant left handed starters in the Minors. He has a solid fastball with plus movement. He also has a plus slider. Britton is the quintessential ground ball, sinker type of pitcher. I am really excited to watch Britton pitch for the Orioles, and it could possibly be at the beginning of the year. However,  I expect him to start in Norfolk (AAA) this season, and eventually work his way onto the 25 man roster, possibly in May or June.

3.  Xavier Avery OF - Avery is a toolsy Outfielder who the Orioles selected in the 2nd round of the 2008 draft. He is also a very raw player in terms of his skill and potential. He has plus speed, and is a plus fielder as well. The problem with Avery is that he still has not fully put his game together for one season. He has plus speed, but still needs to work on his baserunning. He has some power potential, but I wouldn't expect anything more than a Carl Crawford type in terms of power if he indeed did reach the majors. Overall Avery is young and still has a ways to go before he cracks the MLB roster.

4. LJ Hoes 2B - LJ is an interesting player. He has as much athletic ability as anyone in the world, but he does not always use it. He is a very streaky player in terms of production. Overall he is a solid player who could potentially become a replacement for Brian Roberts. I think Hoes will become more of a AAAA kind of guy honestly, but that does not mean he still can't achieve greater terms. If Hoes can bounce back from his rough start last year and produce a solid season throughout, he could set himself up for a huge bounce in the overall prospect ratings, and a better opinion from myself.

5. Daniel Klein RP - Klein was drafted last year out of UCLA, where he was their closer. He has a plus Curve-ball, Change-up, and Fastball. Klein is an interesting case, because the Orioles intend to make him a Starter, even though he spent his last year at UCLA closing, and was injured the year before. Klein could potentially move back to Relief if starting does not work out, and this is where I think he belongs personally.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Getting to Know our Farm System

The Orioles have the 24th ranked farm system according to Keith Law (I've seen the Orioles ranked anywhere from 22-26 by others). This is obviously not where the Orioles want to be. We could use the argument that since most of our big name prospects have graduated to the MLB that our system is going to take a hit, but that is juvenile thinking. The Rays/Royals/Red Sox/Phillies/Yankees could all use that argument too, yet they are still all top 10 systems.

-Yes the loss of Matusz, Arrieta, Tillman, Wieters has dramatically hurt the system.
-But the poor play and decline of Brandon Erbe, Brandon Snyder, Matt Hobgood, and Josh Bell has also severely hurt the system.
Manny Machado is currently Ranked #26 by Keith Law
-Not to mention our drafting has been fairly poor the past few years (besides the easy picks of Machado, Wieters, and Matusz)
- The Orioles currently have only two top 100 prospects, Zachary Britton and Manny Machado.
- In my opinion, not one other person in our system at the current time is even considered a top 150 prospect, which obviously hurts.

- In order for the Orioles to continue getting better, they are going to need to keep working on their farm system. What happens if Matusz, Arrieta, Tillman, Bergesen, and Britton all either flop or are only average pitchers? They have no one who can follow behind them to take over. They also have only one batter in my eyes that could be more than an average player at the MLB level (Machado). This is one of the Areas that Andy McPhail has really done a poor job with, and is one of the reasons I could potentially see him leaving after his contract expires after this year.

-I'll go into detail about the Orioles Top 10 prospects later on.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Orioles Bench

Currently the Orioles might have one of the weakest benches in the league. But for once in a very long time, they have put together a formidable lineup, making the bench expendable. However, there still is a long time till the season starts, and people can still be signed or traded for.

I'll discuss a little about what the Orioles have to work with in the upcoming season so far.

Currently the Orioles Bench looks like a variation of these players

-Nolan Reimold/Felix Pie (one will be starting in LF)
-Cesar Izturis
-Jake Fox
-Craig Tatum
-Brendan Harris/Robert Andino

-That is a pretty ugly bench from an offensive standpoint. Defensively it really is not all that much better either.
I am hoping that the Orioles sign Vlad to DH ( you can read about this in my last post), so they can then send Luke Scott to LF and have one of Pie or Reimold as the 4th OF, with the other in AAA. ( They could also elect to keep both on the 25 man roster, but I personally think that would be a terrible idea since they are both young and need to keep playing every day for growth).
- If they do not sign Vlad however, I expect this bench to be what they go with towards the season. I could see some potential upgrade to possible fill in the severe lack of third base and first base depth, but it seems highly unlikely as of now.

-As of now this is how the bench would work:

Jake Fox/Craig Tatum       -------Backup Catcher
Jake Fox                          ------- Backup 1st/3rd
Cesar Izturis                     ------ Backup SS/possibly 2nd and 3rd
Felix Pie/Nolan Reimold   ------- 4th OF

-They could also elect to go with Brendan Harris or Robert Andino for another backup Infielder, thus making Tatum or Fox expendable.
-Either way, the bench is the weakest part of the Orioles roster this year.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

O's Should Target Vlad

The Orioles have undoubtedly improved their roster from last year already. The trades of  JJ Hardy and  Mark Reynolds solidified the left side of the infield, while the signing of Derrek Lee plugs the hole at first. However the Orioles could further improve the roster by making a move for free agent DH Vlad Guerrero.

Imagine this lineup:

Roberts 2B
Markakis RF
Lee 1B
Guerrero DH
Scott LF
Reynolds 3B
Jones CF
Wieters C
Hardy SS


(I assume Reimold would be traded or sent to AAA with a Vlad Signing)

-Now that lineup has some firepower up and down it. The reason I think signing Vlad Guerrero would be a great move, is because it allows the Orioles to move Luke Scott to LF and have consistent production from each position on the field. The Orioles would lose a little room due to Vlad only being able to DH, but the benefits would be worth it. A lot of people also fail to realize that Luke Scott is actually an average fielder, and he is a very consistent fielder.
-I know some will argue that we would then have Pie/Reimold wasting away, but honestly how long should we wait for them to hit their potential. We need production now, and the waiting needs to be saved more for the starting pitching.
-Overall this would be a great move for the Orioles if they did indeed pursue him. Peter Angelos has been known to love Vlad, and it seems he may be running out of suitors for a job anyways.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Orioles Sign Kevin Gregg

Gregg Saved 37 games with a 8.8 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9 and a 3.51 ERA
I took a little break over the holidays from posting, but that didn't stop the Orioles from signing players.

-The Orioles officially inked RHP Kevin Gregg today to a 2 year 10mil deal, with an option for a 3rd year.
-This probably ends the off-season for the Orioles, at least when it comes to significant upgrades or moves. Gregg will most likely battle out Koji Uehara and Mike Gonzalez for the closers role, with the runner-up taking a set-up role.

-Kevin Gregg frankly is a pain in the ass to watch. He will put up fairly good numbers, but he does give up a ton of hits and can be wild at times. I think the Orioles overpaid for him to be honest, although it seems with the market trending towards relievers getting paid more, that this deal was consistent with these trends. Realistically he should have gotten anywhere from 7-8 mil over 2 years in my opinion. Overall, I think it is a positive note that Gregg was brought in, although I can already see him becoming an enemy of the fans. If you thought George Sherrill was thrilling to watch, wait till this year.

The Orioles bullpen now looks like this:

Kevin Gregg
Koji Uehara
Mike Gonzalez

Jim Johnson
Jason Berken
Jeremy Accardo
Long Reliever (Probably Rick Vandenhurk)
LOOGY (I assume they sign one, but this could come from in-house as well)

I did not put Alfredo Simon on the list because the way things are turning out, he may be in jail for a very long time. Overall, the Bullpen should be slightly better than last year. At least the Orioles are attempting to be active this off-season. It sure beats them sitting back and doing absolutely nothing to improve the team like past years