Friday, January 28, 2011

Breaking Down the Oriole Prospect Talk

MLB.com and ESPN have released top prospect lists this week so I thought I would sift through them today and filter it through the Oriole prism.

MLB.com put out their Top 50 Prospect list on Tuesday with Norfolk sinkerball pitcher Zach Britton (video) coming in at #19 and 2010 1st Round pick SS Manny Machado (video) ranked #24.

MLB.com's prospect expert Jonathan Mayo did not elaborate much beyond the video scouting reports in his chat, probably due to a lack of Oriole questions submitted, but did say that Manny Machado was one of the players outside of the top 20 that had the biggest upside. I may have to track him down again to remedy that.

ESPN's Keith Law put out a ranking of the Major League farm systems (subscription). The Orioles came in #24:

This group was probably the most surprising ranking to me as I went through the process. The O's have produced a ton of potential impact players who no longer qualify here -- including Brian MatuszMatt WietersNolan Reimold, and Chris Tillman -- but the system at this moment is two Top 30 prospects and no one else I'd put in my Top 150. The lack of international talent in the system stands out.

Law's Top 100 includes, you guessed it, Manny Machado (#26) and Zach Britton (#11). Some comments from Law, first on Britton:

Britton is a true sinker/slider guy -- meaning his fastball actually sinks -- and at 91-94 it's very hard for hitters to elevate successfully. His low-80s slider is very sharp with great tilt and gives him a swing-and-miss weapon, especially against left-handed hitters...


...His command is fair, and he doesn't have a pitch that moves away from right-handed hitters, so he's had some trouble with walks in those situations for which he compensates by getting groundballs.


There's at least strong No. 2 starter potential here, but better command would give him more ceiling than that.

(I love the analysis on Britton from and emotional standpoint, if not a logical one. I don't think Britton's potential is that good but I love to hear other people do...)

And about Machado:

He has strong, quick wrists, good rotation and excellent extension through his swing, clearing a slight bat wrap quickly once he gets his hands started. It's line-drive power now, but he's going to have more power down the road as he gets stronger.


Machado has a 70 arm and good hands at shortstop, but his frame is so big that he might outgrow the position in a few years, although I think he has the raw ability to stay there if his body cooperates.

Law's top ten for Baltimore:

1. Zach Britton, LHP
2. Manny Machado, SS
3. Xavier Avery, CF
4. L.J. Hoes, 2B
5. Dan Klein, RHP
6. Jonathan Schoop, SS
7. Mychal Givens, SS
8. Joe Mahoney, 1B
9. Ryan Berry, RHP
10. Trent Mummey, CF

Quick comment of this list: The Oriole farm system is weak at this point, I'll grant you. But I don't get Joe Mahoney. His numbers at Frederick were nice but the Bowie numbers just seem fluky. Talent wise, I just don't think there is that much to separate him from the likes of Jacob Julius. Not sure why he's considered a prospect based on season's performance anymore than Matt Hobgood losing his status based on one poor season. I want to see more of him at Bowie before I'm a believer.

On the plus side, nice to see some middle infield talent even if most of it is raw a far away from the majors.

One Oriole question in his chat about Machado:

Wade (VA)


Have you seen Manny Machado play? Are the A-Rod comparisons at all viable or too aggressive?
Klaw (1:52 PM)


I have and I may have inadvertently started the A-Rod thing - but I called him "A-Rod Lite" and pointed out that some reasons were demographic rather than baseball. I do like him but he's not A-Rod.

And Law selected one sleeper for the Orioles too:

Curacao native Jonathan Schoop played the 2010 season at age 18, but the shortstop hit well in the advanced Appalachian League and earned a brief call-up to high-A Frederick. He's getting stronger with projected above-average power, a good arm and the feet and hands to play somewhere in the infield, probably third base.

4 comments:

The Oriole Way said...

I think the short answer for Mahoney is that every team gets a Top 10 prospects list. Doesn't mean that prospect #8 is much of a prospect.

And I don't think you can call a minor leaguer with shoulder problems, conditioning issues, and declining stuff much of one either. Doesn't mean Hobgood can't bounce back, but there are a lot of strikes against him right now.

Heath said...

Right and I get that the most recent history counts the most...it's just an odd way to track prospects, you know?

And obviously being #8 when Trent Mummey is #10 is not a ringing endorsement but it seems that a spike in a players numbers is enough to get them noticed on prospect lists...and a bad season (by Hobgood or anyone) is enough to knock you off the same list.

The Oriole Way said...

My guess is that the injury hurt Hobgood's standing way more than did his poor results last season. That and the fact he never showed anything close to the stuff he had in high school (which may have been injury related).

Heath said...

You're probably right but he had dropped off some prospect lists before his injury was known.

And he did show the stuff he had in high school, at least once. But he admittedly did not as the season went on.