Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Prospect Watch: Roderick Bernadina

Bloodlines always make for good stories in sports. As some already know, Roderick Bernadina is the cousin of Nationals OF Roger Bernadina. Both also play the game very similar.

Roderick, 19, is from Willemstad Curacao. Listed at 6'1'' 192 lb, he has all the physical attributes to project as a talented OF down the road. Here is a scouting report from Don at  Orioles-Nation:
International bat in that shows a great deal of promise. Cousin of Washington Nationals outfielder Roger Bernadina. Room to add 10-15 lbs. Tremendous fastball hitter with some serious bat speed; destroys mistake pitches. Has trouble making contact with off-speed stuff; more so with breaking balls than changeups. Free swinger. Above-average speed. Looks lost in field at times, especially on the basepaths. Average arm strength. Has a rocking hitch in the hands (ever so slight) to go along with plus hand speed, which could improve as he matures and gains additional strength. Good, proper drive and hip rotation. Has a violent swing that gets him caught out in front on anything with movement. His brother Roger had similar traits and was able to improve his tools with proper coaching. If he establishes ability to sit on pitches and maintain patience at the plate Roderick could be dangerous.

From what I have seen in Roderick, this is spot-on. Calling him a free-swinger is probably a huge understatement. He swings at A LOT. His K/BB ratio is at 7/3 currently, which is not very surprising considering how violent and free he is. His biggest trouble so far in Aberdeen has been staying off the ball in the dirt. This probably goes hand-in-hand with him having trouble with change-ups and breaking balls. Of course, he is a raw talent at age 19, so much of this is expected. On opening night he held his own against a very tough pitching prospect in Taylor Guerreiri, whom was a 1st round pick of the Tampa Bay Rays. He was absolutely filthy, and held Aberdeen to only 2 hits through 5.0 innings. Roderick was 0-2 against him and in his first at-bat was baffled on a two-seam that dipped into the outside corner (nearly in the dirt). This plate appearance highlighted the flaws touched on in the above scouting report. However, the next plate appearance highlighted his quick bat speed and his quick hip-turn. I was fairly impressed with what I saw in that AB, although he simply grounded out to SS. He ended the game 2-4, with two sharp singles off the RP's brought in.

A few other games I have watched displayed similar skills. It's clear that the violent swing envelops some of these flaws, but the potential is fairly obvious. I actually think his speed is almost more than above-average relative to others, but if he puts on anymore weight then above-average is probably where he will end. It really is amazing watching him, as the comparison to his cousin Roger is so obvious. He still has trouble staying back, and it's primarily been his flaw at Aberdeen so far. Looks a little too antsy at the plate right now. He's an underrated prospect in the Orioles system, and it would not shock me to see a night spurt of success shoot him up in the rankings. Overall, he's a player I like and hope to see a little more of as the season goes by.

Prospect Watch: Glynn Davis
Prospect Watch: Joe Mahoney
Prospect Watch: Xavier Avery
Prospect Watch: Ryan Adams
Prospect Watch: Gabriel Lino

Monday, June 25, 2012

2012 WAR Recap (6/25/12)

I've put together a list of rWAR and fWAR for all Orioles players brought in during the 2012 season. Also on the list are all players that were either traded, released or claimed off waivers.
6/18: WAR Recap
fWAR went up 0.4 from last week.
rWAR went up 1.0 from last week

Notable reasons for the increase:
Jason Hammel once again is carrying the pitching staff. His start saw a large jump in his WAR.
Wilson Betemit got out of the red with his past week. He now has a positive WAR for both parts.

Total= Trade:IN + Trade:OUT + Free Agent:IN - Free Agent:OUT

Friday, June 22, 2012

Manny Machado Is 19 Years Old

Nick Markakis was 20 when he played at A Delmarva.

Matt Wieters was 22 when he played at High-A Frederick and AA Bowie.

Derek Jeter was 20 when he played at High-A Tampa and AA Albany.

The face of the Orioles franchise for the past three decades? Cal Ripken Jr. was the same age as Manny Machado when he played at AA Charlotte (Which is obviously now AA Bowie).

Adam Jones didn't take off with his bat until his Age 20 season.

Jones, Markakis, Wieters, Jeter, and Ripken all have been very good players in this league.

The past month has been a funny time. All winter people were told that Manny Machado is the second coming of A-Rod (which is simply ridiculous, A-Rod was one of a kind). Machado has noticeably seen a decline in his stats and some are getting rather worried, frustrated or disappointed.

I'm here to tell you to relax. Machado, at his age of 19 (Turning 20 in July), is already playing leagues and leagues ahead of what he should be doing. Players such as Nick Delmonico are older and playing at Delmarva (which is normal for his age). There are countless examples of this that I am not about to list. Each team has at least a prospect or more that is below the level of Machado. Machado could easily be at Frederick destroying the league. In reality, what good is that? He's at Bowie learning more than anyone could imagine. AA seems to be the perfect fit for him right now. It's important to remember that he has a target on his back as being a top 10 prospect in all of baseball. And in my eyes, he's played the part. Statistics are a funny thing for the most part. They are used as guidelines for how good a player is doing. I also use them every day and make a lot of assumptions off of them. However, in the lower minors, they are probably one of the last things to look at. I've seen Machado play plenty of times now. Here's a defensive report I wrote on him a month ago:

Machado really continues to impress me with his defensive play at SS. In the first inning, he made a spectacular play. It was a ground ball hit back up the middle and Zach Clark attempted to make the play but the ball bounced off his glove. Machado shifted gears on the deflection, picked it up with his bare hand, and fired a perfect throw to nab the fast Gary Brown at first. Very impressive play.
Later on, he made a tough play ranging to his left and made an equally strong throw to first. He also had a routine ground ball take a wicked hop at the last second and he still managed to stick with it and make the play look easy.

I've seen Machado at SS enough now to truly get a grasp of what he is. I've seen him make rangy plays to the left and right. I've seen him make barehanded plays, quick throws, and handle tough hops. The kid is simply a natural, and I'm not sure I truly agree with anyone saying he will grow out of SS. OK, maybe he does, but if it happens 7-8 years down the road does it really even matter? I think he could easily stick at SS for the immediate future and beyond, and be a pretty good one at that.
Hitting is not as easy to judge. Machado is right where he should be though. If he wasn't, more would be heard from scouts and respected industry members saying so. Everyone's other top SS Jurickson Profar is putting together a good season at AA Frisco. That shouldn't take anything away from Machado. Everyone puts too much into comparisons such as Profar vs Machado. Both are already above the pace of Derek Jeter. That alone should say how good these guys are. Nobody is saying they are going to be Jeter obviously, but they have all-star talent. Machado's bat speed and mechanics are at an extreme level for his age. On Bowie's opening night he hit a line-drive HR that left the ballpark in less than four seconds. He was the best looking hitter in that game.

It's important to remember that baseball is a long and tedious road. Players often struggle mightily at times before they ever amount to anything. This goes for more players than just Machado. Everything written above could be addressed to players such as Jonathan Schoop, Gabriel Lino and more. Some want to trade Machado for a top tier player, but that just puts the Orioles right back to square one. The Orioles had a top three pick in the draft for a reason. They still have a long way to go.

In conclusion, remember that age really is an important aspect in a players' developmental progress. It's why a guy who is 24 at AA and hitting .330/.380/.510 is not always the same as a 20 year old at AA hitting .250/.320/.390. Just imagine your self four years younger. How much growth has happened since then?

Monday, June 18, 2012

2012 WAR Recap (6/18/12)

   I've put together a list of rWAR and fWAR for all Orioles players brought in during the 2012 season. Also on the list are all players that were either traded, released or claimed off waivers.

Total= Trade:IN + Trade:OUT + Free Agent:IN - Free Agent:OUT

 Clearly the big winner from the 2012 off-season is pitching. So far the new faces in the pitching staff have given the Orioles 5.2 fWAR and 6.8 rWAR. While Duquette did a great job with pitching, the offensive cast he brought in has been simply average. However, the Players they made up for from last year have not played significant roles. Luke Scott was average at best before his DL stint and Vlad Guerrero has not played in the majors yet and currently is a free agent.

   Overall, the off-season moves have been impressive so far. Even the Dana Eveland trade has proven to be useful so far. Although, Jarret Martin does enter today as 2nd in the Midwest League with 73 K's. However, he is 22 years old and still in Low-A. I wasn't too impressed with giving him up for Eveland this off-season, but the value is probably equal at this rate, especially if Eveland can continue to be valuable as a long-man and occasional spot-starter if necessary. It's been beaten to death by now, but the Randy Henry for Taylor Teagarden deal looks worse and worse by the day. Henry has been one of the most dominant pitchers in the Carolina League. That being said, Duquette was very successful with the Guthrie trade, made equal return with the Eveland and Jai Miller trades, and lost out on the Teagarden trade. Not too bad of a scenario when looking at the big picture.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dedicating A Song To Each Orioles Affiliate

   Kevin Goldstein did a fun piece using a Pixies song for a bunch of prospects. If you happen to listen to the Pixies like myself, then let me say that each song fit the given prospect perfectly. After further thought, I thought it would be a great idea to label each Orioles affiliate with a song of my choice.

Delmarva Shorebirds- William Elliot Whitmore "Let The Rain Come In"

Delmarva has seen quite a few promotions this season. Johnny Ruettiger, Justin Dalles, Dylan Bundy, Tyler Wilson, all have moved on from the Shorebirds already. Thus, the team has seen a big drop-off in talent and performance. This song by WEW describes rain allowing the crops to grow, and I think that could relate to the Orioles letting their prospects grow here before moving on.  And once the prospect has grown they do indeed move on to Frederick and beyond.

And let it be known
That this place was not my home

Frederick Keys- Fugazi "Waiting Room"

This team has a bunch of players that seem to have 1) Fallen out of favor with the organization 2) Have not moved very fast through the system. It also is the "median" in the system in terms of stops along the way to Baltimore. When a player gets to Frederick they are largely playing the waiting game. Players such as Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado are going to skip by, but some simply have to wait there. Ty Kelly is a great example of that. The final part of  "Waiting Room" couldn't be more perfect
I won't make the same mistakes
Because I know how much time that wastes
Function is the key

Bowie Baysox- Murder By Death "Sometimes The Line Walks You

Bowie has two of the Orioles biggest prospects in Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop. They also are struggling when you look at it from a numbers standpoint. However, these two players have never really felt this frustration or had much failure in their young careers. It's important to remember that sometimes the line does walk you. They were bound to have some failure along the road.
I've taken a hit or two
I've given quite a few
I swing my fists and the cities all fall
They sure have done that if you think of the cities as opposing pitchers in the lower minors. But as the song suggests, they've taken some hits as well. The ending fits fairly well also:
the dogs are comin' swift and mean
but I'm hungrier than they have ever been

Norfolk Tides- Tom Waits "Virginia Avenue"

This song is literally perfect for the Tides. The 2012 Tides team consists mostly of veteran players whom have seen better days, been at higher places, and probably made more money. The club is also near the bottom of the standings, but that doesn't mean they can't dream about higher times. Virginia Avenue essentially illustrates the same picture.

I found this excerpt on Virginia Avenue:
Virginia Avenue is the old main street of Reno, Nevada. At one time (1940s-1960s) Harold's Club was the biggest casino in Reno. By the time this song was written, Harold's was pretty run down and right nearby was a Greyhound bus station and a pretty notorious skid row where a number of transients were known to have had a sip or two of cheap wine. The narrator of the song seems to have made a stop there.

The cheap wine could be relative to the veteran players the Orioles have stockpiled in Norfolk. While a few of them had great Careers such as Miguel Tejada, they are run down now. Very similar o the description of Harold's Club.

Baltimore Orioles- Built To Spill "Happiness"

The Orioles have shocked the world so far in 2012. Yet people still are getting overworked about the little things. Remember coming into this season that majority would have been happy if the Orioles even sniffed .500. Well, as of now they are doing just that. In fact, they are doing a little more than just .500. Will it continue? I don't know, nor am I going to lose any sleep over it. Enjoy the success while it continues to last. "Happiness" by Built To Spill is essentially saying the same thing. 

"happiness will only happen when it can"


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Best Orioles Draft Pick By Round(1-50)

   With so many players drafted each season, it's tough to keep track of what players were good, where they came from, and how they got there. When you think of the great Orioles' teams in history, Frank Robinson, Brook Robinson, Jim Palmer, and a few others probably come to mind first. However, the Orioles drafted none of them. Frank was brought over in the well-documented trade with the Reds, and Palmer and Brooks were signed as free agents.
   Below is a list of the most productive players drafted in each round by the Orioles. I simply started in round 50, and worked my way down to round 1. Some rounds did not have any relevant players, some had quite a few. Some players did not break in with the Orioles, but they still get credit for drafting them. For example, the Orioles drafted Mark Lieter (brother of Al Lieter), but he did not ever play for the Orioles at the MLB level. He threw 1184 MLB innings with the eight other clubs. Some players broke in with the Orioles, but were either traded or went on to have success for another club. Steve Finley is a good example of that. If just looking at the best players drafted by the Orioles, here is your list (These are in my opinion the best players per round, as some were fairly closer than others):

   Rounds 50-30: Most people have probably never heard of Bob Taylor, Keith Kessinger, and a few of the others listed. That's alright, neither have I. Taylor was a 1st round pick of the Pirates, and then fell all the way to the 47th round. Kessinger had a grand total of 27 at-bats. From there, two noteworthy names follow. Calvin Pickering and Ryan Minor  were considered big time prospects at their time. They were also fairly solid talents to find that late in the draft, even if they were such disappointments (Tough to follow Cal Ripken!).

   Rounds 29-20: John Parrish is the first player on this list to truly provide the Orioles with some value. He was very effective for the Orioles in 2004, pitching 78.0 innings out of the pen for the most part. He played a few other years for them, but was not as good. Still, for a 25th round pick, it's tough to knock on that. After Parrish are a rash of players whom made most their mark with other squads. Willie Harris  had a pretty good career as an OF/UTIL guy.  DJ Carrasco pitched a while in the league as a RP. He had been released by the Orioles. I was not alive, but I hear Rich Coggins was pretty valuable for the Orioles back in the day. From 1973-74 he played 223 games with 43 SB.

   Rounds 19-10: This is the time where some big names start to enter the picture. Rocky Coppinger was the name I'll always remember from my childhood. He wasn't half bad either for a 19th round pick. Gregg Zaun was one of the better backup catchers in baseball for a while, and although he provided more value for other clubs, his name still remains as the best player the Orioles drafted in the 17th round. David Hernandez proves to be a great 16th round pick. Not only has he been a terrific RP for the Diamondbacks, but he was able to provide the Orioles with a huge trade chip. Regardless of what you think about the trade, Hernandez proved to be an extremely successful 16th round pick. The next few names are all exciting. Steve Finley was one of my favorite players to watch growing up. When I found out the Orioles drafted him, it only made me like him more. Al Bumbry is a legend himself here in Baltimore. I've been told that few could play CF like him. David Dellucci had a nice career around the bigs, although most of it away from Baltimore.

   Rounds 9-1: The rounds that usually make or break a teams' draft each year. Two great Orioles' pitchers were drafted in the 6th and 7th rounds. Mike Flanagan and Mike Boddicker were fairly easy choices for myself there. Current Orioles Closer Jim Johnson takes the cake for best Orioles player in the 5th round. He has been very good, but I thought it was a little surprising that nobody better had been drafted there. Of course the book is not closed on Jake Arrieta, but he certainly is not better as of now. Last but not least, Rounds 3-2-1 have three of the best Orioles' players in history. I doubt there needs to be much discussion on what they meant to the club.

Other Notables:

Round 33: Kurt Birkins
Round 21: Jim Traber
Round 18: Garrett Stephenson
Round 14: Kimera Bartee
Round 13: Augie Ojeda, James Hoey, Mike Oquist
Round 12: Brandon Fahey, Pete Rose Jr., Brad Pennington
Round 11: Jerry Hairston, Billy Ripken, Bobby Brown, Terry Crowley
Round 10: Luis Matos, Damon Buford, Rob Andrews
Round 7: Storm Davis, Jeff Ballard, Jimmy Haynes, Matt Angle,
Round 6: Bill Campbell, Erik Bedard, Eli Whiteside, Jason Berken, John Maine
Round 5: Jake Arrieta, Hayden Penn, Rick Bauer
Round 3: Doug Decinces, Alex Ochoa, Kiko Garcia, Matt Riley, Chris Ray, Zach Britton
Round 2: Don Baylor, Larry Sheets, Arthur Rhodes, Sean Douglass, Ryan Adams, Nolan Reimold, Xavier Avery
Round 1: Johnny Oates, Bobby Grich, Rich Dauer, Pete Harnisch, Greg Olson, Ben McDonald, Jeff Hammonds, Jayson Werth, Brian Roberts, Larry Bigbie, Mike Fontenot, Nick Markakis, Matt Wieters, Brian Matusz, Garrett Olsen, Adam Loewen

After decades of drafting, that doesn't SEEM like a ton of notable players. However, it's about even for each club after all is said and done.