05 January 2009

Orioles Prospects: 11-20

Top 30 Prospects: Baltimore Orioles (1/5/2009)

Prospects 11 - 20

11. Troy Patton | Stats | Depot Grade: B-
6-1 / 185 | Age - 23 | RHP | B/T - B/RDrafted - 2004 (R9) | Magnolia HS (TX)
Floor: AAAA | Ceiling: Mid-rotation Starter | Projection: #4 Starter

Notes: Patton came over the Baltimore last December in the Tejada trade and figured to slot into the back-end of the '08 rotation. A slap-tear of the labrum, however, sidetracked his campaign before it even started. After undergoing surgery to repair the tear, Patton was throwing again this fall in instructionals with positive results (as reported by at OriolesHangout.com -- premium contact article). Since Patton was never a power pitcher, this would seem to mesh with what we expected. We'll want to pay particular attention to whether his feel and release point are back on track in the Spring, as his pitchability is his best asset.
Patton's fastball is a high-80s offering with good armside run. He also throws a four-seamer that comes in much straighter and bumps up 2-3 mph. He commands the pitch to all four quadrants and mixes in a solid set of secondary pitches, keeping hitters off-balance. His slider has tight, late break and can be used as a "strike" pitch or a "chase" pitch. His changeup generally sits in the upper-70s with good fade and plays-up particularly well against lefties. His strength is his ability to pitch up-and-down / left-to-right and changing pace. If healthy in the Spring, he'll be a favorite to make the rotation and should provide back-end production.
12. David Hernandez | Stats | Depot Grade: B-6-3 / 215 | Age - 23 | RHP | B/T - R/R
Drafted - 2005 (R16) | Cosumnes River JC (CA)
Floor: Bullpen | Ceiling: Front-end Starter | Projection: Late-inning Relief

Notes: Hernandez has a terrific arm and boasts two potential plus-pitches. The first is a mid-90s fastball that plays-up due to a quick arm action and somewhat deceptive delivery. His two-seamer clocks in 2-4 mph slower but has nice late action. His second potential plus-offering is a hard, slurvy curveball that ranges from in the upper-70s to the low-80s. It already functions well as a "chase" pitch, but Hernandez could stand to tighten his control and consistency if he wants to continue to utilize the offering against more advanced hitters. His changeup is still a work-in-progress, and as with his curveball he'll need to tighten his command and consistency with the offering if he wants it to play at the next level.

The big question marks right now for Hernandez are command in the zone with his fastball, command and consistency with his secondary stuff and development of a viable third offering. Right now, he has a tendency to run up his pitch counts due to fringy command.  This has limited his ability to go deep into games and stands as a legit hurdle to Hernandez sticking as a starter. There is certainly still time for him develop his changeup and improve his command. but with a solid crop of starting arms around him it may make sense to consider shifting him to the pen. His power stuff could really play-up there, and the lack of a ML-caliber third offering wouldn't hinder his value. There's a lot to like about Hernandez, in particular his ability to miss bats. For the second straight season he lead the league in strikeouts (2007 - Carolina League; 2008 - Eastern League) and he has an aggressive demeanor on the mound. Baseball-intellect.com doesn't like his front-side mechanics, and likewise suspects he'll end up in the bullpen. 
13. Bobby Bundy | Stats | Depot Grade: B-6-2 / 215 | Age - 18 | RHP | B/T - R/R
Drafted - 2008 (R8) | Sperry HS (OK)
Floor: AAAA | Ceiling: Front-end Starter | Projection: #3 Starter

Notes: Bundy was a solid value pick in round 8 of the 2008 Rule 4 draft. His stock dipped a bit after spending the Spring rehabbing from a torn ACL, though the injury did little to slow him down in the overmatched Will Rogers League (Senior Year stats included in our 2008 Draft Review article). With his fastball velocity down, Bundy was nearly unhittable as the staff anchor, and Sperry claimed its third state championship in four years. Bundy has since continued to build-up his lower-body strength and his fastball velocity is almost back to its pre-surgery low- to mid-90s pop.

Bundy's secondary offerings are solid for a high schooler. His curveball is a two-plane pitch with legitimate plus-plus potential. Sitting in the mid- to upper-70s, it also serves as a solid "change of pace" pitch. He hardly needed his changeup at Sperry HS, but shows an okay feel for it and it's adequate as a "show me" pitch, already. It could be a solid average offering down the line. A big body that gets on top of the ball, Bundy throws on a hard downward plane. He can attack the zone with a solid two-pitch mix right now, and if the changeup progresses he has the base skill set to ultimately reach a front-end ceiling. He may be able to hold his own at LoA Delmarva, but Baltimore could instead keep him in extended spring training and let him take a shot at the NY/Penn League out of Short-season Aberdeen.
14. Xavier Avery | Stats | Depot Grade: B-5-11 / 180 | Age - 18 | OF | B/T - L/L
Drafted - 2008 (R2) | Cedar Grove HS (GA)
Floor: AAAA | Ceiling: All-star CF | Projection: AVG LF

Notes: Avery is an immense talent that could pay out big for the Orioles if they are able to tap into his raw potential. Profiled in our 2008 Draft Review, Avery boasted one of the best tool sets in the entire 2008 Draft Class. Entering the Summer, his swing was still raw and there were questions as to whether Baltimore would promote an easier "slap hitter" approach or try to refine his approach and tap into his plus raw power. He has above-average hand/eye coordination and reports from the Gulf Coast League and Fall Instructionals have been encouraging. He's keeping a better path to the ball and showing an improved ability to spray to all fields. Twenty-four months from now we should have a better idea of what Avery is going to become, and 2010/11 should be circled as potential offensive breakout seasons.

Defensively, Avery could be plus in left field, but we're not quite sold on his arm strength and accuracy out of center (which is where Baltimore has played him thus far). His plus-plus speed plays all around the outfield. He tracks well and his footwork is solid, though he could stand to improve his routes. Already endearing himself to the organization as a hard worker, Avery should be fun to follow over the next 3-5 years. He has the potential to move quickly and is another in a solid group of high-upside 2008 Baltimore draftees.
15. Greg Miclat | Stats | Depot Grade: C+5-9 / 180 | Age - 21 | SS | B/T - B/R
Drafted - 2008 (R5) | University of Virginia
Floor: AAAA | Ceiling: Above-AVG SS | Projection: UTL

Notes: Like Bundy, Miclat came at a discount in this past Rule 4 Draft due to injury. While spending his 2008 season regaining strength in his shoulder, the UVA middle-infielder saw his offensive numbers dip dramatically (see our 2008 Draft Review article). When healthy, Miclat brings an advanced approach to the plate, utilizing solid pitch-ID and a plus command of the strikezone. He keeps a short path to the ball and excels at going with the pitch -- using the entire field. Though he is maxed out with regards to his frame, he should be able to generate solid gap-to-gap power as a professional, moving away from a "slap" approach encouraged at UVA. He likely profiles as a bottom-third-of-the-order bat, though he has the on-base skills to hit out of the one spot if he can fully regain his strength.

Defensively, Miclat has the hands, range, footwork and baseball acumen to be an above-average shortstop at the Major League level. He is clean on both ends of the double-play and shows a talent for charging the ball. The big question will be the strength in his shoulder moving forward. Prior to his surgery, Miclat boasted well above-average arm strength. Last Summer, Aberdeen alternated him at DH and SS to get him adequate at bats while bringing his shoulder along slowly. Far from a sure thing, Miclat is an interesting package that is already quite refined and could move quickly through the system. His ability to consistently square-up against advanced pitching and the degree to which he can develop some gap-to-gap power should determine whether or not he ultimately profiles as a Major League regular or a utility player with solid on-base skills.
16. Kam Mickolio | Stats | Depot Grade: C+6-9 / 255 | Age - 24 | RHP | B/T - R/R
Drafted - 2006 (R18) | Utah Valley State University
Floor: Bullpen | Ceiling: Late-inning Relief | Projection: Middle-relief

Notes: Mickolio is a big-bodied righty with a power sinker and a potential wipeout slider that flashes plus-potential. If he can improve upon his command, this two-pitch mix could be dominant in late-relief. Unfortunately, his mechanics make for an inconsistent release point (he throws heavily across his body). However, this same arm action generates plus-sink on his low-90s fastball and plus-spin on his slider. Both offerings also play-up due to the fact that he throws on a solid downward plane. His changeup is a "show me" offering for which Mickolio is still developing his feel.

Mickolio has a limited organized baseball background (there was no high school baseball in Montana) but has steadily moved through the minors as part of Seattle's and now Baltimore's system. The Orioles will continue to develop the righty into a power set-up man, capable of working multiple innings. Depending on the make-up of the 40-man come April, Mickolio could find himself in Baltimore or back in Norfolk to continue working on repeating his release point and commanding his sinker/slider. His sinker remains one of the best fastballs in the organization.
17. Zach Britton | Stats | Depot Grade: C+6-2 / 180 | Age - 21 | LHP | B/T - L/L
Drafted - 2006 (R3) | Weatherford HS (TX)
Floor: AAAA | Ceiling: Back-end Starter | Projection: Middle-relief

Notes: Britton took a nice step forward this past season and is making a case to remain a starter as he progresses towards the upper-levels. His fastball is his best pitch -- a low-90s offering with good boring action that produces groundball after groundball (though not missing many bats). One reason for this could be that his secondary pitches are still progressing, and hitters (even in the LoA South Atlantic League) are keying in on his fastball. Britton is making headway with his slider, but it's still an inconsistent pitch. When on, he gets good, late bite and it could be a plus-pitch down the line. His curve and change are both fringy, though he gets some solid depth on his changeup, albeit sporadically. Ideally, he'll improve enough upon one of these offerings to give him a legit "change-of-pace" effect batters' timing -- his changeup being the more likely of the two to be an average Major League pitch.

For the time being, we still project Britton to slot-in as a lefty-reliever. His solid velocity with a boring fastball and the makings of a hard slider could together produce very solid results against advanced hitters. He should get a shot at HiA Frederick next year, where Baltimore will watch to see if he can continue to make progress. Consistency in his slider and an offspeed offering are his biggest needs, in addition to improved command in the zone with all of his secondary stuff. He could also stand to add some muscle-mass.
18. Oliver Drake | Stats | Depot Grade: C+6-4 / 210 | Age - 21 | RHP | B/T - R/R
Drafted - 2008 (R43) | United States Naval Academy
Floor: AAAA | Ceiling: Mid-rotation Starter | Projection: #4 Starter

Notes: As a draft eligible sophomore, Drake was overlooked by many organizations unaware that midshipmen do not begin their commitment period until their third year at the Academy. After being selected after 1285 other amateurs and being offered $100,000 (well above "slot"), Drake elected to sign with the Orioles and begin his professional career. His fastball is a solid-average offering that ranges from the upper-80s to the low-90s with good late life. Currently, only his slider is a plus-offering, sitting in the low-80s with good tilt and occasional 2-plane action. His curveball and his changeup each show lots of promise, as Drake has shown a good feel for both despite not focusing on either at Navy.

Drake has a durable frame that Baltimore hopes will translate into a solid back-end innings-eater. If he's able to develop a viable third offering and continue to improve upon an already solid fastball/slider combo, he could top out as high as a capable mid-rotation arm. LoA Delmarva seems the most logical jumping-off point after working out of the bullpen in Bluefield and Aberdeen last Summer. He should be an interesting arm to follow and potentially a supreme steal in the 43rd round.
19. Brad Bergesen | Stats | Depot Grade: C+6-2 / 205 | Age - 23 | RHP | B/T - R/R
Drafted - 2004 (R4) | Foothill HS (CA)
Floor: AAAA | Ceiling: Back-end Starter | Projection: #5 Starter

Notes: Bergesen's ceiling is severely limited due to an inability to miss bats a generally pedestrian arsenal. Still, he is a fine package of poise and command. His fastball is a solid-average offering with good sink on his upper-80s/low-90s two-seamer. He also dials-up a flatter four-seamer that can touch 94 mph. His slider is a low-80s fringe-above-average pitch with small, tight, late break. Though not a true "swing-and-miss" pitch, it works with his boring two-seamer to produce groundballs.

With average "stuff", Bergesen will need to rely on pitchability and continued command in order to stick as a starter at the Major League level. If he can keep all of his offerings down and work both sides with his fastball, he could prove a useful piece in the back-end of a solid rotation. He'll likely start in AAA Norfolk, where the spacious park should play well for the groundballer. He could be among the first MiL arms given a shot with the Big Club's rotation should someone stumble or fall due to injury in 2009.
20. Bob McCrory | Stats | Depot Grade: C+6-1 / 205 | Age - 26 | RHP | B/T - R/R
Drafted - 2003 (R4) | Southern Mississippi University
Floor: AAAA | Ceiling: Closer | Projection: Middle-relief

Notes: McCrory boasts a fringe-plus-plus-fastball that sits in the upper-90s and a good secondary offering in the form of a hard-sweeping slider. Erratic at times, McCrory has struggled to keep his fastball down in the zone at the Major League level. Unfortunately, the pitch does not have adequate life to permit McCrory to get sloppy with location, even in the upper-90s. Like Hoey, McCrory could provide good value as a late-inning power arm in high leverage situations, though he hasn't yet been able to put everything together.

McCrory will likely get another shot at Baltimore's bullpen in the Spring, though with options remaining Norfolk remains a possibility. The Orioles are undoubtedly excited by his potential, but McCrory will have to start clicking in order to avoid being surpassed by the next waive of arms working their way through the system.

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