Every Monday through the rest of the minor league season, I'll be taking a look at a prospect who is either at AA or AAA, and could potentially have an impact on your fantasy season this year. Today's prospect has an extremely outside shot at getting to the Majors this year, and in all likelihood will not make it there. However, there's a lot to like about the future for the Orioles, and the key piece to that is shortstop prospect Manny Machado. Let's take a look at what his future may hold after the jump...
Weight: 185 lbs.
On 40-man roster: No
Machado was drafted #3 overall by the Orioles in the 2010 draft, behind a couple of players you may have heard of. He signed at the deadline for a $5.25 million bonus, and was able to get into 9 games between the Orioles' GCL affiliate and their New York-Penn League affiliate. For the 2011 season, the Orioles sent Machado to their low-A full season affiliate in Delmarva, where he hit .276/.376/.483 with 6 home runs and 23 runs batted in over 38 games. He was promoted to the Orioles High-A affiliate despite being just 18 years old, and posted a .245/.308/.384 line with 5 home runs, 26 RBI, and 8 stolen bases.
In spite of a lackluster line at High-A, the Orioles sent Machado to AA for the 2012 season, and to date he has hit .247/.333/.390 with 8 home runs, 52 RBI, and 12 stolen bases. For the second straight season Machado was sent as a representative of the Orioles to the Futures Game, and went 1 for 3 with a two run double and a very nice leaping catch during the game.
What's Stopping Him From Contributing Now?
I see three key factors that are keeping Machado from the Majors:
1. He just turned 20 years old this month, and still has just over 750 at bats in the minor leagues.
Machado is extremely young, both generally and for his level, and while he has been doing alright there, he is not destroying the level like you would hope to see to promote him.
2. He is not on the 40 man roster.
There is absolutely no incentive for the Orioles to bring Machado up and start his service clock. Even if the Orioles thought he would be a nice piece to have up for a playoff run (which they are by no means a lock for right now), there's the last issue:
3. J.J. Hardy is under contract for 2 more seasons after this one.
The Orioles gave Hardy a 3 year extension during last season, and I have to imagine that the goal was to have Hardy bridge the gap until Machado is ready to take over at shortstop. At some point in the last season, if Machado shows that he is ready earlier, the Orioles could look to move Hardy to another position or trade him, but we're still talking about at least another full season away for that.
What Could He Do For Fantasy Owners When He Gets There?
Machado appears to have the potential to be a fantasy monster, hitting for a solid to high average, hitting for solid power, and providing some speed at a premium position. I could very well see him as a 20 HR/15 SB type in the Majors. It seems to me that Machado is viewed as a high floor type, who should provide value on both sides of the game for the Orioles. There seems to be some concern about whether or not he can stay at shortstop long term, but overall it sounds like those concerns may be a bit unwarranted.
When Is He Likely to Arrive?
For me, Machado seems to be likely to arrive with a September call up in 2013, and with a shot to stay up for good out of Spring Training 2014. I think that the Orioles may have him stay down in AA to start the 2013 season, but a good month of hitting or a good Spring Training could move him to AAA very quickly.
Machado is probably still one of the top 10 prospects in the minors right now, and is probably not available to draft in very many dynasty leagues with a minor league system. But I think that he is still definitely worth looking into acquiring, as he still is one of the top 3 prospects at shortstop in the minors, and seems like a decent shot to stay there long term as well. The biggest concern about his long term position seems to be whether he gets too big for shortstop, but that could be a long way down the line, if at all.
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