The difference between Frederick and Bowie appears to be night and day. Where Frederick has a number of fringe prospects in the 15 and below on the organizational depth chart . . . Bowie has some top flight talent. One guy who I won't be talking about, but will mention here, is Luis Lebron. He is a reliever who has been talked up a lot this spring and really broke out last year when he began throwing a decent slider. He also sits in the mid 90s with his fastball. I rarely mention relievers though because the margin for error is so thin. Anyway, he is one of the many talented players on this roster.
After the jump, top five guys to keep a tab on.
1. Zach Britton LHSP Frederick
140.7 IP 3.29 FIP 8.1 k/9 3.3 bb/9 3.57 GB:FB +3 FIP (L)
The secret is apparently out on Britton as many folks go so far as to rank him as a top 25 prospect and name him as the O's best prospect outside of Brian Matusz whom still qualifies as a rookie. Much has been written on him and if you want to go to a game and see some nice pitching, he is the one you want to target. He has a plus offering in his two seamer and is able to get folks to chase pitches out of the zone. He has good feel for his slider and is slowly working on his change up. The biggest step for him this year is to hone his changeup so that he has a second quality pitch against right handed batters. As many have recognized I am toward the back end of the pack in how I view Britton. I have seen too many groundball specialists that feast on unpolished hitters who chase pitches low in the zone and wind up with weak contact results. Great success at AA and an improved changeup will certainly force me to alter my opinion. He needs to keep doing it is what he is doing.
2. Pedro Florimon Jr SS Frederick
257/321/411 over 448 AB; TZ: +4 runs over 150
Florimon, Jr. is the closest thing we have to a MLB ready prospect in the upper levels of the farm system. The next closest prospect is Mychal Givens who we have mentioned before. Last summer, Florimon raised a lot of hopes as he finally paired his excellent defense with an 873 ops performance in April and a 1046 ops performance in May. His performance then collapsed in June and July with a bounce back in August. It was really a difference of two hitting results: months with a 360 BABIP and months with a 300 BABIP. If he goes out and hits an 800 line or above in Bowie, it will be considered a success and will be moved into a conversation about how he fits in with the 2011 MLB club. If he shows power along with that, he may start sniffing a top 100 prospect ranking. A lot may depend on how well he plays this year. If he falters, we may see a major push to acquiring a SS outside of the organization.
3. Caleb Joseph C Frederick
283/337/440 over 448 AB; 34% CS
Joseph holds some promise as an offensive oriented backup catcher when he reaches the majors. He needs to work on his catching technique quite a bit. He also needs to increase his hit rate as he seems somewhat allergic to earning walks. For the first four months, Joseph was able to hit in the .330 range, but then he suffered a terrible August . . . so terrible it dropped his batting average down to 283. He needs to keep that average high in order to be useful with a bat in his hands. It may have simply just been a result of fatigue as he is relatively new at catching and an entire season behind the plate can be exhausting. What will be interesting in Bowie is how his defense improves as well as if he can build on his power display last year and send 15 or more out of the park.
4. Brandon Waring 1B/3B Frederick
272/349/521 over 493 AB; TZ: -6 runs over 150 at 3B
Waring was acquired in the Ramon Hernandez trade along with Justin Turner and Ryan Freel. Waring was known as a power hitter with below average contact and a high K rate. His defense was also a question mark. A year later, he is still trying to prove he can play third base, but the good news is that the Orioles are continuing letting him try that out. His ISO increased from .119 to .172, which is very good. He also cut his k rate from 32% to 24%. Waring was one of the older prospects in the league, but that improvement was noticed. He now must build on that success in AA and show that he was not just beating up on younger, less polished pitchers. A strong showing in Bowie will give him the Orioles more options.
5. Chorye Spoone RHSP Composite
31.3 IP 5.37 FIP 7.5 k/9 5.5 bb/9 1.31 GD:FB +0 FIP(L)
After the 2007 season, much was expected of Spoone. His ability then was somewhat similar to where Zach Britton is now. Spoone was just a shade behind where Britton is now. He was mentioned as an up and comer who could jump up the prospect lists with a good 2008 season showing more command and missing more bats. Instead, he suffered a severely injured shoulder. Now, he is a year removed from his recovery period and is expected to continue now where he left off. A successful season would mean better command of his fastball and the feel returning for his breaking ball. It would be an amazing season if he is capable of repeating the performance he had in 2007 at Frederick in 2010 at Bowie.
Others to watch:
Robert Widlansky 1B - High contact hitter, not much else.
Matt Angle CF - Very good plate discipline, OK contact, no power. Question is how much pitchers will be able to challenge him.
Billy Rowell RF - This might be Rowell's make or break season. He does well and he is on the 40 man roster. He doesn't and he will be an option for others in the Rule 5 . . . or he may just be released. He showed very little that was positive in his second stint at Frederick.
Steve Johnson RHSP - Back in Baltimore's system, trying to show his performance is better than his pitches.
Luis Lebron RHRP - As mentioned in the primer, he is a promising reliever.
Kenny Moreland RHSP - Fringe starter. Performance has exceeded his pitches.