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Baltimore Orioles Top 10 Fantasy Prospects

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We kick off the offseason's prospect coverage (a couple days early) with our look at the top 10 fantasy prospects in the Baltimore Orioles' system.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

We're rapidly approaching the playoffs, and for most of the league, that means it will be time to assess the needs for next season and start planning for a longer than hoped offseason. We're at the same point for fantasy owners in dynasty leagues, and we're here to help you with the information you need as you prepare for your minor league drafts.

In previous years, we have done rather intensive top 10 prospect lists, including an organizational rundown, opportunities in the coming season, as well as the top fantasy prospects. However, we have found that a number of these topics are covered as we continue through the offseason, and specifically through profiles done as a part of our preseason redraft rankings. As a result, this year's top 10 lists will be primarily that: a list of the prospects with brief writeups rather than the 4000-8000 word opuses that have occurred in the past. We feel that this year's format will both suit the goal better (of providing fantasy relevant information and rankings) as well as allow us to move through them much more quickly so that they can be completed by the Christmas holiday.

The schedule itself is fairly basic: We cover a division, going in alphabetical order of city/location name. This means the next team after this post will be Boston, then the Yankees, and so on. Once we finish a division, we'll move to the next division to their west, (the AL Central in this case), then repeat for the AL West. Once we've finished one league, we start over on the East Coast in the National League and do the same.

Our Basis

With fantasy prospect rankings, the key to knowing the usefulness of a specific player is how large and deep of a league you would need to be in for them to end up as a fantasy starter. We will be ranking 10 prospects in each system, but that doesn't mean that every one of them is useful if you play in a 12-team mixed dynasty league. With that said, we're aiming to provide useful information whether you play in a 10-team mixed, a 15-team AL-only, or a 24-team mixed.

Prospect rankings also come with the same caveat I provide every year. They represent a snapshot of how we view the players at the time of publication. There will inherently be more information published throughout the offseason, and so it is very possible that by the end of the offseason, how we view a player may be very different from where we had them originally.  We're going to get some of these right, we're going to get some of these wrong, and in general my reminder is to find information you trust, and use it to your advantage. If that comes from us, that's great and we're happy you're here. If it doesn't, we'll continue to work and hope that you'll keep checking in to see how we're doing.

The Tiers

Something new I wanted to introduce this year is a tier system to help delineate where prospects are likely to fall on the overall top prospect list. We have not completed our top prospects lists yet, and will not likely do so until we are close to finishing all the prospect rankings. The tiers are here though to provide some clarity when comparing between different teams. It's by no means a perfect system, but the goal is to give you a general idea of which players we think are in a similar range in terms of value and ranking. Since the tiers are also expected to be relatively consistent across teams, there may be tiers which do not have prospects for certain teams.

Tier 1 - The Elite Prospects

These prospects are expected to be in the top 25-50 prospects overall, and have the potential to be among the top options at their position regardless of format or league size.

The Orioles don't have anyone currently in this tier.

Tier 2 - The Top 100 Candidates

These prospects are expected to be in the discussion for the top 100 prospects overall, and are expected to be starting options in all formats.

The Orioles don't have anyone currently in this tier.

Tier 3 - The Next Group of Starters

These prospects would likely slot into the 100-200 range on an overall ranking list, and would be starters in mid-depth formats like 12 and 14 team leagues.

#1 - Hunter Harvey (RHP) 
Age on Opening Day 2016: 21
ETA: ?

Harvey missed the entire season due to injuries to his elbow, and was just shut down in the instructional league and given the dreaded appointment with Dr. Andrews on October 5th. If he ends up needing elbow surgery, he's likely to miss all of 2016, and will not have pitched in a game in two years by the time he returns. The best case scenario for Harvey is a top 25 starting pitcher for fantasy purposes, providing great ratios along with a high strikeout total. More likely we see him settling in as a solid fantasy starting pitcher who fits into the top 50 among starters. However, the risk of surgery combined with his missed season of development leave him likely outside the top 100 overall.

#2 - Dylan Bundy (RHP)
Age on Opening Day 2016: 23
ETA: 2016

It really wasn't supposed to be like this. Bundy was supposed to be the high school draftee that made it to the majors quickly and stuck at a young age. However, injuries the past two years have kept him from the field nearly the entire time. The Orioles are in a tough spot now, as Bundy will need to make the Opening Day rosters since he is out of options. This fact could lead him to be used in a bullpen role as they work to build up his innings base, which hurts his long-term value. The potential is still there for a top of the rotation starter, but the odds are much lower than previously thought, and a more realistic outcome would be a mid-rotation starting pitcher.

#3 - Jomar Reyes (3B)
Age on Opening Day 2016: 19
ETA: 2018

Reyes spent the full year at Low-A, missing a month due to a thumb injury, but otherwise had a very solid year there. He was the third youngest player in the Sally League, but still posted a very solid .278/.334/.440 slash line in 84 games there. His power potential is his carrying tool, and can potentially be paired with a solid batting average as he continues to move toward the majors. There is the potential for Reyes to move from third to first due to his current size (listed at 6'3", 220 lbs, but reports indicate he has already grown more), but if his bat develops as hoped, it should still profile as a solid starting CI in most formats.

#4 - Trey Mancini (1B)
Age on Opening Day 2016: 24
ETA: Late 2016

Mancini had a great year between High-A and AA, hitting 21 home runs with a .341/.375/.563 slash line. He's limited defensively to first base, which has the potential to hurt his fantasy value given the high bar for relevance at first base. With that said, the adjustments he made this year can potentially give legitimacy to the performance, which would definitely be good enough in a lot of leagues to be a starter as a CI. The potential is for a 20+ home run hitter who can also provide a good batting average, especially given the consistent strikeout rates around 15%.

Tier 4 - Single League and Deep Format Plays

These prospects would likely slot into the 200-300 range on a ranking list, and would have the most value to mixed leagues with 16+ teams and single-league formats with 12+ teams.

#5 - Chance Sisco (C)
Age on Opening Day 2016: 21
ETA: 2017

Sisco started the year in High-A, hitting .308 with an 11% walk rate and just a 13% strikeout rate before his promotion to AA. His bat is considered advanced, and batting average is expected to be his carrying category for fantasy owners. There are open questions right now about whether his defense has progressed enough to stay at catcher long-term, as well as how much power he will develop. If he can stay at catcher, he is a top 15 option at the position who is capable of providing a high batting average with some home runs. If he can't stay there, his bat could limit him to deeper formats where you can take one-category production better.

#6 - D.J. Stewart (OF)
Age on Opening Day 2016: 22
ETA: 2017

The top pick of the Orioles this past season, Stewart is a bit of a divisive prospect. He hit well throughout college, posting a .344/.481/.570 slash line in his three years at Florida State University. With that said, there are concerns about his stance (a bit of an exaggerated crouch) and a limited defensive profile (currently left field only) which will put pressure on his bat to perform well to provide value. He could move quickly, and the potential is there for a .280, 20-25 HR hitter if it all comes together. The range of outcomes on Stewart is pretty wide though right now, which drops him down this list further than his ceiling would indicate.

#7 - Christian Walker (1B)
Age on Opening Day 2016: 25
ETA: 2016

The hope would be that Walker can establish himself as the everyday first baseman in 2016 with both Chris Davis and Steve Pearce free agents this offseason, but the up-and-down performance could keep that from happening. Walker posted a solid .257/.324/.423 slash line with 18 home runs at AAA Norfolk in 2015, but a lot of that was built on an excellent June where he hit .337/.411/.480 with 7 home runs. Walker can be a deep league 1B option, capable of providing 15-20 home runs with a low batting average (.230-.240 range).

#8 - Ryan Mountcastle (SS)
Age on Opening Day 2016: 19
ETA: 2019

Mountcastle was the Orioles' supplemental first round pick this past year, and is a bit of an overlooked name at the moment. He's not expected to stay at shortstop long-term, but reports on his bat point to him having value elsewhere on the diamond. With above-average raw power and excellent bat speed, there is the potential for Mountcastle to develop into a solid all-around fantasy contributor. He's a name to file away if you're looking for a flier at the end of your dynasty league drafts.

Tier 5 - We Ranked Ten Prospects, We Really Did

These prospects generally will be useful in the deepest of formats. Think 24+ teams for mixed leagues and single-league formats with more teams than the league it uses. In many cases, these will be part-time players or utility-types when they get to the majors.

#9 - Dariel Alvarez (OF)
Age on Opening Day 2016: 27
ETA: 2016

Alvarez has already made his debut in the major leagues, but at age 26 now, is likely to be what we're seeing in the minor leagues. He has shown solid power potential (15-20 HR), but it's not clear that he can be a starting corner outfielder based on his profile. The best case scenario in my opinion is a 5th outfielder in a deep league, who provides power in a part-time role.

#10 - David Hess (RHP)
Age on Opening Day 2016: 22
ETA: 2017

Hess reached AA this season after being a 5th round pick of the Orioles in 2014, and showed solid potential across 143 innings pitched. He doesn't have the ceiling of most pitching prospects, but as a potential back-end starting pitcher, he should have value in AL-only and deep mixed formats as an innings-eater type. There is some risk that he ends up as a reliever long-term as he continues to develop his secondary offerings, but either way he should move quickly towards the majors.