Monday, November 23, 2009

Q&A with's Jonathan Mayo About the AFL and Oriole Prospects

With the Arizona Fall League ending this past weekend,'s Jonathan Mayo took some time out to answer a few questions about the AFL and Oriole prospects in general.

Jonathan Mayo is a senior writer for and covers the minor leagues and the draft. Mayo compiles's annual list of the Top 50 Prospects in baseball and is their resident prospect expert. Additionally, Mayo is an author and with his latest book titled, "Facing Clemens: Hitters on Confronting Baseball's Most Intimidating Pitcher".

Dempsey's Army: The Hawaiian Winter Baseball league folded and the Arizona Fall League is still just AA and AAA players. Will MLB move to replace the gap the HWB has left and create a similar league for Rookie league, Single A and recently drafted high school players? I was thinking a small league on Florida’s west coast would work geographically.

Jonathan Mayo: Yes. There are plans for an “AFL Jr,” of sorts, hopefully in 2010. It will be in Arizona and be played in some of the new facilities out there, Goodyear and Glendale . A bunch of the teams that have instructs out there formed a co-op league this year to give the lower-level players a chance to get some game action. Also, the AFL allowed for an extra exemption for A-ball players, up to two from the usual one.

DA: Brandon Snyder looked pretty good in the field during the AFL Rising Stars game. Is his defense improving?

JM: That’s just one game, so you don’t want to draw too much from it. I’ve heard good things about his defense at first. I think he’ll be just fine there. He may not be the kind of guy who is your typical power-hitting 1B, but he’ll drive the ball enough to be a good run producer who hits for average and gets on base.

DA: Two Josh Bell questions: Does it look like he plays the field well enough to stick at 3B? Can he ever learn to hit lefties?

JM: I think he’ll be OK at third. Remember, injuries cut him short for a while when he was with the Dodgers, so I think he’s still learning over there. As for lefties, time will tell. He’ll likely never be great vs. LHP, but he really doesn’t need to be. Very small sample size in the AFL, but he’s had some good ABs against lefties. Hopefully, that’s a good sign.

DA: For the Orioles, CF Matt Angle has gone under the radar in their farm system. His skills are limited but he gets on base and steal bases at outstanding rates. If he can duplicate that success in AA Bowie, should he be considered a decent prospect?

JM: There are always guys who go under-appreciated. Whether Angle is one of those guys will depend on what he does at the upper levels. Guys like him have a hard time getting “prospect buzz.” He’s small, he has no power and he’ll play all season at age 24, putting him on the older side of guys who’ll be in Double-A. But every year there are guys who sneak up and make it when no one is looking.

DA: Outside of Matt Wieters, which Oriole under the age of 26 has the biggest impact in Baltimore next season? (This list includes Adam Jones, Felix Pie, Brad Bergesen, Chris Tillman, David Hernandez, Brian Matusz, Brandon Snyder, Josh Bell and Troy Patton)

JM: Remember a time where you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone on a list like this? I’m one to usually go with the every-day player, though there are some really good starters on there. But I’d have to say Adam Jones is the guy. He showed last year what he’s capable of and he’s still learning. Any time you can have a five-tool guy who can impact the game in so many ways, you have to be excited.

DA: One of the silver linings of the 2009 season is that Baltimore will have the #3 pick for the 2010 Amateur Draft. It’s really early but what player (or what type of player) will be available at the 3 slot?

JM: Umm, a good one? Seriously, it’s hard to know exactly what’s going to be out there. It does look like there will be some good college arms, though as you said, it’s so early, anything can happen and players can emerge. But you can never have enough pitching, right?

DA: What do the Orioles need to add to compete at this point? Is 2011 too soon to ask for a winner?

JM: Get the Red Sox and/or Yankees moved to another division? It’s not just that they spend money. The Sox have a terrific farm system to boot and the Yankees spent their money more wisely and if they continue to do it that way, it’ll be an uphill struggle. And I’m not even mentioning the Rays, who are set up to be very competitive for a long time. But that’s the model the O’s are going for, right? Having young talent coming up every year will give them a chance. I think 2011 or 2012 is a realistic time to expect this talent to start paying dividends.

DA: I check in on the Around The Minors video segments on that you and Lisa Winston produce. Any chance of reviving the Around the Minors podcast? There is really nothing else out there to fill that demand.

JM: We would love to revive that, but I’m not the person to ask. For now, you’ll have to get by with the video segments on Maybe we can convince someone to bring something back, a podcast or how about a show on MLB Network?

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