Minor League Keeper Thoughts: Baltimore Orioles

PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 10: U.S. Futures All-Star Manny Machado #3 of the Baltimore Orioles field a ground ball during the 2011 XM All-Star Futures Game at Chase Field on July 10, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

With the Arizona Fall League ending, organized baseball is on break here in the United States until Spring Traiing. So far, I've taken a look at 3 of the organizations as a part of my team-by-team look at the prospects that could be of interest for those of you in keeper leagues. The goal with each team is to take a look at a few players who are likely to have an impact in the Majors in 2012, a few who could be ready by the start of 2014, and a few more who are a long ways away, but could be interesting as well. The hope remains that each organization will have enough players to fit into these categories, but some of the systems simply aren't going to.  You can also find the links to the previous teams below:

Keeper Thoughts - Houston Astros
Keeper Thoughts - Minnesota Twins
Keeper Thoughts - Seattle Mariners

Overview

The Orioles have had a number of players graduate from the minor leagues in the past few seasons, but the big club has not reaped the benefits they had nearly hoped they would. Players like Brian Matusz and Josh Bell have not turned into the major league contributors that they anticipated, and as a result they continue to have high draft picks. However, they do have another new general manager to help to build the team.

Graduates

Zach Britton

Ready in 2012

Unfortunately, I really didn't find any prospects in the Orioles' system that I think are a) likely to be ready in 2012, and b) likely to be relevant in fantasy leagues that aren't at least 20-24 teams deep. Players like Ryan Adams may be ready, but he seems unlikely to get full-time playing time and provide anything other than a decent batting average and a small amount of pop if he does.

Could Be Ready in 2014

Manny Machado

Year Age Lg Lev G R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2010 17 GULF Rk 2 1 1 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 1 .143 .143 .571 .714
2010 17 NYPL A- 7 2 10 1 1 0 3 0 0 3 2 .345 .406 .448 .855
2011 18 SALL A 38 24 40 8 2 6 24 3 1 23 25 .276 .376 .483 .859
2011 18 CARL A+ 63 24 58 12 3 5 26 8 5 22 48 .245 .308 .384 .692
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/20/2011.

Machado was the top draft pick for the team in 2010, and vaulted to the top of numerous prospect lists. In his first full season, he didn't disappoint either, hitting 11 home runs and stealing 11 bases in 101 games. The performance in the Carolina League really says something to me, as he was much younger than nearly every player in the league. Baseball America rated him their top prospect in the Carolina League after the season as well.

Here's what Kevin Goldstein had to say about him as a part of last year's top 11, prior to the 2011 season:

The Good: All of Machado's tools rate as average or better. His combination of bat speed and upper-tier hand-eye coordination should lead to consistently high batting averages, while his strong wrists and broad shoulders have many projecting average power down the road. He's an instinctual shortstop who can make plays to both sides look easy while showing the kind of actions rarely found in teenagers. His arm is a tick above average, and he's a solid runner.
The Bad: Machado's ultimate position could play a role in determining his future value. Some scouts wonder if he'll lose some speed as his body matures, but his defensive skills and hitting ability still have star potential if he's forced to third base.

Ultimately, Machado did little during his season to disprove the reports, and seems likely to be at High-A to start the 2012 season. Realistically, his timetable will be affected slightly if a position change is needed, but I think honestly that the Orioles will leave Machado at shortstop until they have to move him. I could see him being a 20-25 home run hitter with decent speed when he arrives in Baltimore, which probably won't be until 2014 at the soonest.

Jonathan Schoop
Year Age Lg Lev G R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2009 17 DOSL FRk 68 28 59 7 3 0 35 11 3 24 39 .239 .320 .291 .612
2010 18 APPY Rk 39 16 42 11 1 2 16 1 1 12 14 .316 .372 .459 .831
2010 18 GULF Rk 17 11 15 4 0 3 16 0 0 7 7 .250 .329 .467 .795
2010 18 CARL A+ 6 5 5 3 0 0 3 0 0 1 4 .238 .273 .381 .654
2011 19 SALL A 51 45 67 12 3 8 34 6 4 20 32 .316 .376 .514 .890
2011 19 CARL A+ 77 37 81 12 2 5 37 6 3 22 44 .271 .329 .375 .704
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/25/2011.

When it rains, it pours I guess. The team is lacking in solid positional prospects, and the best one not named Machado also plays the same position. Schoop has been used at 2B and 3B as well as SS, simply because he's been at the same level as Machado a fair amount. Schoop was signed out of Curacao, and has posted some solid numbers in full-season leagues. Here's what Marc Hulet of Fangraphs had to say about Schoop:

The infielder is rawer than Machado but he shows signs of developing into a player that will hit for average and, potentially, power (60 on the 20-80). With Machado at shortstop, Schoop is expect to move off the position long term – possibly to the hot corner but he’s played more second base so far. He offers a strong arm and solid range at shortstop and should have no issues adapting to third base.

While he has played at similar levels to Machado, it sounds like Schoop could move up the system faster than Machado, and potentially reach the majors sooner as well. I could honestly see Schoop start 2012 at AA, with the possibility of a callup by the end of 2013. Regardless of which position he ends up at, it sounds like he could end up providing solid across-the-board production where he does play.

Long-Term Prospects (Won't Be Ready until At Least 2015)

Dylan Bundy

Bundy did not make his professional debut, but he is extremely well thought of, especially for a high school pitcher. Here's what Kevin Goldstein had to say as a part of his top 11 rankings:

The Good: Bundy's arsenal earns top-flight praise for both its quality and depth. Broad-shouldered and muscular, he has a smooth, lightening-quick arm that allows his fastball to sit in the mid-90s with plenty of 100s seen throughout the spring. His curveball is already a plus pitch, and he surprised scouts with an 88-91 mph cut fastball that is already a weapon as well as a change-up that is advanced for his age. Beyond the stuff, he has above-average control and not only throws strikes but throws quality ones and is lauded for his makeup.
The Bad: Bundy's change-up is a tick below average, but there's no reason to think it won't become plus with time and repetition. He doesn't have the classic size of an ace-level power pitcher, but no scouts contacted for this article had any concerns. All he really needs is innings.

He doesn't really sound like the typical high school pitcher that will need 4-5 years in the minors before making the Majors. Regardless, the consensus seems to be that he has the upside of an ace, and that should definitely translate to fantasy as well. I would tend to agree with Marc Hulet's estimate that he will start in low-A, but could be pushed by midseason.

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