20 April 2010

2010 Season Wins Update: Week 3

Here is the season update prior to last night's games. The secondary axis this week is projected 2011 draft slot according to PECOTA as opposed to season wins. As you can see, the Orioles dropped from 12 to 10 to 1 so far this season. PECOTA is typically not very reactionary, but it appears to be so this year.

Playoff percentages are 0.52% for PECOTA and 0.41% for Camden Depot.

Raw Data After the Jump

Week Pecota WAR Pythagorean Actual Psodds Penodds Wcodds WARPsodds 4th record in AL PECOTA Pecota Draft
6-Apr 78.6 78.3 81 0 0.34% 12
13-Apr 71.7 76.4 45.5 1 1.95% 0.60% 1.35% 0.88% 91.5 10
20-Apr 68.8 74 46.7 2 0.52074 0.11376 0.40698 0.18% 92.6 1

19 April 2010

Off Season Managerial Candidates

The calls for Dave Trembley's retire have softened just a bit after the Orioles victory yesterday, which should be tempered as much as the overall record. There really is not much of what Trembley has done that can be considered his fault for the Orioles current state. Similarly, the players have not shown to be listless or turned their backs on Trembley. He seems very well liked and the players do listen to him. That said, fans still like to see a good execution when their team fails and the Orioles have been failing a lot.

Last week, we looked at in season opportunity to replace Trembley. This week, we will lost at potential off season solutions.

Davey Johnson - Senior Adviser - Washington Nationals

Davey Johnson is someone who Orioles fans long for in that he was at the helm for the O's last winning season. The rocky breakup with Angelos is something any Oriole fan can still recount blow by blow. Johnson's name was one of the first to be mentioned when Perlozzo was fired several years ago. For unknown reasons, he was dropped from the running and the team focused on Joe Giraldi. That did not work out and MacPhail decided to keep with Trembley. Now, Johnson would be staring at age 68 next year, which is rather old for a manager. He has not managed in the Major Leagues since 2000, but has been very much involved in Team USA and the WBC. He would not be able to ride out the rest of 2010 as he has a contract with the Nationals. Some think that contract as a Senior Adviser is merely a holding maneuver for Johnson until current Nats manager Jim Riggleman inevitably fails, allowing Johnson to takes the reigns. That being said, if available, Johnson probably stands a decent chance to be rehired by the Orioles.

Tom Kelly - Special Assistant to GM - Minnesota Twins

Kelly was one of MacPhail's big hirings when he joined the Twins organizations. Kelly lasted his entire term as GM. Under Terry Ryan, Kelly was sort of like the GM's personal cross checker for internal minor leaguers. He worked part-time as a restricted evaluator. I am assuming that under Bill Smith, the same arrangement has been made. Since MacPhail's hiring, Kelly has repeatedly been asked about any potential openings within the Orioles organization, but he has routinely responded that he enjoys his semi-retirement and not having to travel as much as he used to. Based on the information we have, it seems unlikely he would now be interested in managing again.

Joey Cora - Bench Coach - Chicago White Sox

Cora was another coach that was linked to MacPhail when he took over the Orioles' GM position. After retirement as a player, he was groomed in the Mets minor league system until being promoted to the big leagues by Ozzie Guillen in 2003 as a third base coach. He was then promoted to being the bench coach in 2006. On several occaisions, Cora has served as the ChiSox's interim manager. He has also logged time as manager in Venezuela during the off season. His managerial perspective is somewhat of an unknown as Guillen's personality and perspective overwhelms the day to day operation of the team.

Bob Melvin - Scout - New York Mets

Melvin was part of the Why Not? team with the Orioles and played a total of three years in Baltimore. He spent several seasons as a coach in the Diamondbacks system. His MLB managerial career began with a two year stint in Seattle that was uneven with his first season winning 93 games and his second season with 99 loses. He was immediately hired after being let go by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the wake of the Wally Backman fiasco. Melvin led the Diamondbacks to 90 wins and a pennant in 2007, but lost in the NLCS. That year he was awarded the Sporting News and MLB National League Manager of the Year awards. He was fired form the position in 2009 after 29 games. Melvin's handling of a squad is considered a bit frantic. He will often tinker with the lineup and the bullpen to get the results he wants. To many, the results he gets from his tinkering have about the same effect on winning as a fan at home wearing his lucky shirt. This behavior looks genius when the team is winning and desperate when it is not. He is rather well regarded though and is on many GMs' short lists for any opening.

Tony Pena - Bench Coach - New York Yankees

Pena has early success during his tenure in Kansas City as head coach, winning Manger of the Year honors in 2003 with a young team. He is considered a strict disciplinarian with young players and gets a lot out of them. Of course, such a style often will get old without results. He also has a reputation for being a coach who burns out arms and somewhat unfriendly to more recent trends in managerial strategy. He was in the running for the Yankees job after Torre left, but lost out to Girardi. Pena stayed on, remaining as the bench coach. By all indications, he wants to get back to managing a team.

Alan Trammell - Bench Coach - Chicago Cubs

Trammell is perhaps the most underrated SS of all time. He is also largely given too much blame for the Tigers' woeful 2003-2005 time. After winning 5 out of their last 6 in 2003, his Tigers avoiding the embarrassment of finishing with fewer wins than the '62 Mets, Trammell was fired and offered a role in the Tigers front office. Trammell declined, wanting to get back into the saddle. He signed on as bench coach for the Cubs in hopes of restoring that dream and remains there. His teams consisted of young pitching rotations and was thought not to be too taxing on their arms (although almost every single Tigers pitcher from that time has come down with arm problems and have suffered incredibly underwhelming careers). It would be surprising if he did not wind up as the Cubs manager or somewhere else within the next five years.

Harold Baines - 1st base coach - Chicago White Sox

Baines would be a fan favorite. He has been a part of Guillien's coaching staff since the World Series 2005 win. His name rarely comes up for manager openings, but he could be another Eddie Murray or Rick Dempsey interview. His soft spoken style may not work well with the media or fan base. His skills as a manager are largely unknown and untested.

Rich Dauer - 3rd base coach - Colorado Rockies

Dauer would be another legacy interview. He too has been rather unassuming, but is well regarded in Denver.

Don Mattingly - Hitting Coach - LA Dodgers

Mattingly lost out to Girardi and has been thought to be biding his time in LA until he can find a coaching slot. It has been suggested that in the next year or two Torre will retire and Mattingly will take over. Having been burned by the new Steinbrenner/Cashman arrangement, he may have second thoughts trusting that the current Dodger leadership will remain with their owners' divorce proceedings. Baltimore may be interested in trying to hire him on as an offensive oriented manager with playoff experience, but Mr. Baseball probably wait for a better team to open up. Certainly, a better team if he was going to the AL East and having to face his Yankees.

Dave Martinez - Bench Coach - Tampa Bay Rays

Martinez and MacPhail know each other well from their Cubs years'. Martinez is often mentioned as a peripheral candidate for several teams, which may merely be due to the fact he has been associated with many teams over his career and has been thought of as being a manager type. He would be another untested commodity.

John Farrell - Pitching Coach - Boston Red Sox

Farrell would be the person I would be most interested in coming to the Orioles as a coach. He cut his teeth with the Indians as the Director of Player Development for the Cleveland Indians from 2001 to 2006. Not incredibly gifted in a Joe Jordan role in my opinion, but he certainly was competent. For the past three years he has been the pitching coach for the Red Sox. Coming up through player development, coaching young pitchers (i.e. Jon Lester), and being a part of a highly competitive and intense baseball environment (Boston); I think Farrell could be an excellent option as a manager. I think he would prove to be a very useful voice and give good feedback to our stable of young pitchers. His contract included a very strict retention clause and it was thought to prevent him being hired by the Indians this past off season. This upcoming off season, the contract is over and Farrell should be on of the most eagerly sought after rookie managers.

16 April 2010

Looking at the fourth round of the 2010 draft 4:3

This post will be more similar to the 3:3 post as opposed to the 1:3 posts. It is fairly difficult to determine who will definitely be available at this early date. It is also pretty difficult who the Orioles will value as Jordan's staff seems to follow the beat of their own drummer. I will try to identify an individual that might be available 118 players deep (round 4: pick 3). Stereotypical Jordan picks are projectable/low ceiling college position players, JuCo pitcher with potential, projectable/low ceiling left handed college pitcher, and prep pitchers with projection.

P/LC College Position Player
Andy Wilkins 1B/3B/RF University of Arkansas
Wilkins is playing most of his time at first base for Arkansas as Zach Cox mans third base and is the best collegiate first baseman in this year's draft. Wilkins is a fine player in his own right, but does not match the potential of Cox. He has a strong lefty power swing and may be able to profile at third base or right field. Range may ultimately be limiting in the outfield. He should be willing to sign for slot here at around 280k.

JuCo Pitcher with Potential
Jake Eliopoulos LHSP Chipola JC
Eliopoulos was drafted last year by the Blue Jays in the second round last year. He was considered a slight overdraft and required overslot. The Jays did not offer him as much as he wanted and he decided to go to Chipola. I do not think he increases his value much this year and with the shine off him, teams will see that the ceiling is lower than what some thought with him coming out of high school. He throws a fastball in the upper 80s with marginal command, his curveball looks incredibly promising, and his changeup is mentioned as being a work in progress. As a lefty, this is a good group of characteristics to have. He is not expected to put on much more velocity and will likely fall short of being a starter. The Orioles are a team that has made a significant push in the last year to acquire more left handed pitching in their minors and Eliopoulos is a guy whose floor is still usable to this organization. Being an eligible freshman, I could see him signing for about 350-400k.

P/LC College Pitcher
Kevin Gelinas LHP Junior University of California, Santa Barbara
Gelinas is primarily a two pitch pitcher with a fastball the crests 90 and a slider in the low 80s. This spring, a hurdles for him include getting greater command of his pitchers (his mechanics need a bit of refinement) and to actually throw changeups in game situations. A lefty at the velocity should certainly garner more attention than he did last year when he was selected at the end of the draft, but the lack of a viable third pitch for a Junior will keep him out of the first couple rounds. This type of player fits well for the Orioles as I previously mentioned. He is a lefty who has two decent pitches that may become average to above average at the pro-level. He would be a decent fit as a left handed bullpen prospect. If the change shows promise, he might be in line as a swingman or backend rotation pitcher at the pro level. That is good value for the fourth round. I imagine he would sign at slot here, 280k.

Prep Pitcher with Potential
Casey Mulholland RHP Pendleton HS FL
Mulholland is a tall lanky pitcher who has some projection left in his body. He has a fastball in the high eighties, a decent slow curve, and the working of a changeup. There certainly is a lot to be intrigued by his sets of skills and he could wind up being a legitimate starting candidate. Mulholland is definitely a player I will be following as the prep season progresses. He will probably be a slight overslot, but I doubt he is firmly committed to Ole Miss. I imagine around 320-360k would get him to pass on college.

Nothing after the jump.

If Trembley Goes . . . Who can replace him in-season?

It has been a rough start to the Orioles' season. As someone who is attuned to numbers, projections, and scouting reports . . . I am wincing a lot, but am generally unmoved in my assessment of the team long-term. The team is a 70s win team and what has happened has largely not been a product of anything Dave Trembley has or has not done. Still, some fans have been calling for the dugout to be cleared and new coaches to take their places.

Ken Rosenthal wrote a column the other day expressing his thoughts. Many think Trembley will be replaced in-season, but there really are not many candidates available and there is a great risk that any selection may do well and then prevent a wider search in the off season. Any new hire, then, will probably be someone who has experience and is someone whom the Orioles would be fine giving a multi-year contract.

An internal hire is also possible. One way would be to promote a current coach in the dugout to manager. Guys like Shelby and Samuel have some experience managing in the minors, but have been largely looked over at the Majors level. The new hire last offseason, Datz, has never been considered for a managerial position and is thought to be a bit bare bones in how he handles players. Alan Dunn might be the only other option and he seems like an afterthought here. The Orioles are just not very well set up with ex-coaches as positional coaches or "consultants" as other teams are.

The other way of doing an "internal" hire would be to hire an Orioles personality. Names on this short list would be guys like Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken, and Rick Dempsey.

After the jump, I'll go a bit more over the likely possibility of available talent for an in-season hire.

Eric Wedge
561-573 (.495) regular season; 6-5 postseason

Wedge got his start quickly making his way through the minors as a manager. In 2002, he was awarded Baseball America's and the Sporting News' Minor League Manager of the Year. That offseason he was hired to replace Charlie Manuel as manager of the Cleveland Indians. The team rebounded on strong play of guys like Sizemore, Sabathia, Lee, Hafner, and Carmona. In 2007, the Indians got edged out in 7 games to the Red Sox in the ALCS. Two lackluster seasons later and Wedge got the ax.

Wedge gas said he fully intends to stay out of the game in 2010 and reenter in 2011. I imagine though that a chance to audition for the Orioles position might be enticing to him. His strengths have largely been attributed to keeping the clubhouse loose and focused each day as well as being somewhat of an instructor. He is criticized for his in game play. Wedge does not like to play "small ball," yet seemed to religiously adhere to pitchers having certain roles. I'm not sure how much these two impressions hold water, but I have heard them enough to consider them to be the perception of his managerial style.

My bet is that Wedge stays retired until the off season when he reenters MLB as a bench coach for someone like the Rangers.

Jerry Narron
291-341 (.460) regular season

Narron has had two tours of duty. A two season span with the Rangers that sunk him when all of Hicks' toys could not be turned into a winner. He then put in two admirable years with the horribly mismanaged Reds before being fired mid-season. It seems that his hiring as Reds manager was perhaps an accident as he performed well enough that the interim tag had to be removed (which might sound familiar to O's fans). I remember him as a rather uninspiring manager who seemed somewhat detached from the players. Far more suited to the bench coach role than the managerial one. To be honest I don't really have a good read on it. As well as I look, it seems he has been out of the game for about two years. He would certainly be chomping at the bit to get back in the bigs. He used to coach Orioles minor leagues in the early 90s, but I imagine all of those guys are gone and we do not have a Reds presence in the front office anymore.

My bet is that if Narron finds his way back into baseball it will be as a bench or bullpen coach. I severely doubt he will be with the Orioles. I would think they would choose someone who at least has some sort of upside or post-season experience.

Phil Garner
903-974 (.481) regular season; 13-13 postseason

Garner is Rosenthal's choice as Dave Trembley's successor. He certainly does fit the mold in that he has had success with two Astros teams and he is a well known coach having been managing with 15 years of experience. He is currently unattached to any team. Also helping his cause is that he is an old school manager who highly values small ball and traditional strategy. I would personally find that to be a fault, but if MacPhail is still anything like he was with Chicago . . . Garner would seem to fit in with what he was. The only knock from MacPhail's perspective is that Garner might be seen by him as an NL-style coach.

What is perhaps slightly puzzling to me is that Garner has never really had much success. He coasted in the worst divisions in baseball and still only managed four winning records during his 15 year tenure. His success was mainly a product of Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt, Roger Clemes, and Andy Pettite. Nothing else. True, he has always had to work with horrible GMs. It is hard to tell if he was a bad manager or if he just had lackluster teams. A question does beg to be answered though: why do awful GMs hire and retain Phil Garner? I think his style is somewhat too brash with his players and that he subscribes to outdated philosophies on baseball. He is not known to work well with young players and is way too invested in veterans, which has been a similar M.O. of Garner's GMs.

My bet is that if the Orioles are willing to sign a multi-year deal, Garner is on the short list. Wedge might be slightly more preferable as he could be pushed around by the organization a little easier.

Buck Showalter
882-853 (.514)

Showalter is another coached who is immediately recognized by fans and is considered a bit more of a hothead than Phil Garner. Rightly or wrongly, he is thought to be strong on fundamentals and brings the most out of his players. Some attribute the World Series wins in the year following his ousting in New York and Arizona as evidence that he is a great manager. For the Yankees teams of the early 90s, you really have to give some of that credit to their development system and player acquisition. With the Diamondbacks, it was really the act of bankrupting the team to sign marquis free agents that got them going. In Texas, Showalter could not improve the Rangers mess and did not much better than Narron.

As an analyst for ESPN, Showalter most likely has a clause to allow him to join a ballclub as manager. He would also most likely require a multiyear contract. As opposed to Garner, who I think is itching to get back into the game, I think Showalter would only consider going to the right situation. He has no qualms about going to a bad team as evidenced by the Dback and Ranger opportunities, but I do question whether he wants to face the uphill battle the Rays, BoSox, and Yanks present. I think he might be hard pressed to find another job.

Art Howe
1129-1137 (.498) regular season; 6-9 playoffs

Howe was last seen in the majors as Ron Washington's bench coach in 2007 and 2008 after spending a year with the Phillies as a third base coach. He is getting up there in age (63 years old) and is thought of much more as a caretaker with a traditional perspective. He sounds exactly like an Andy MacPhail kind of guy. He is low key and rather unimpressive in how he carries himself. He had a mediocre stint with the Astros, and excellent run that ended poorly between him and GM Billy Beane with the A's, and a disastrous run with the Mets. His success with the A's was largely a product of the Big Three. He also did very little in terms of in game strategy as that was dictated to him by the front office. Howe looked very much to the Mets position where he would have more of a free hand. It did not go well and it has been a bit of a black mark for him.

Howe could be had with a single season contract. He seems eager to get back into baseball and could look over the team as an interim. He may be OK with being reassessed at the end of the season. He seems like a convenient pick and he does have experience which will probably be a selling point.

The Unlikely Bunch:

Cal Ripken Jr.
This would be for the old school fans and for the casual fans with elephant memories. Ripken has no experience coaching at this level, but should not be too much of an issue. More so, I think he might be used to getting his way. It could potentially be a Michael Jordan - Wizards sort of situation.

Eddie Murray
This would also be for the fans. Murray has had plenty experience coaching, but has been looked over time and time again as manager material. There are some concerns about how well he could encourage chemistry and work public relations.

Rick Dempsey
Dempsey's post playing day dream appears to be managing the Orioles. He has lobbied hard for interviews every offseason when the manager is let go. He has never been successful and either does not wish to go elsewhere or is largely considered not a managerial prospect. He has plenty of experience with managing in the minors and coaching in the majors. Dempsey is a media guy, so he has that down.

Jim Palmer
Palmer often gets mentioned in the backwater of discussions for an Orioles manager. It seems unlikely that he would care much for it. The only prospect that would be enticing to him is that I severely doubt he would want to coach the team after the season concluded which would give MacPhail the Cheney/Biden option of not having to carry someone over to manager slot the following season. As we all know though, Palmer hates to travel.

Mike Flanagan
As long as there was not much of a falling out and as long as Flanny's guys were not responsible for all of the leaks at the beginning of MacPhail's tenure, this move might actually have more traction than you might think at first. He is an Angelos darling and he does seem to have good personal skills. MacPhail might bristle at another GM-type in the chain of command.

Gary Allenson
This would be a Trembley style move. To promote someone who has been a good teacher and solid manager in the minors. I doubt the O's would look to double up on this. I think he best profiles in the minors whereas a guy like Brad Komminsk could be someone to keep an eye on and promote to the MLB level as a coach in order to groom him as a manager.

Alan Dunn, Juan Samuel, Jeff Datz
All would be fine. Dunn probably has the best shot as both Samuel and Datz are not really known for good personal skills.

15 April 2010

Likelihood of not making the Majors: 1990s Draft Picks

The graphic is pretty self explanatory . . . I think.

Forewarning . . . there is nothing after the jump.

13 April 2010

2010 Predicted and Actual Record Recap

I am bringing this back after a year long hiatus. This will be a weekly post that will keep track of the Orioles actual wins and will also take a gander about how their performance is changing the metrics we use in projecting their performance. I imagine that PECOTA will be more reactive to player performance this year than I will be.

Current Playoff Odds
PECOTA: 1.95%
Camden Depot: 0.88% (91.5 wins)

PECOTA uses their projection systems to predict the entire season and the chance that individual players can have breakout or fadeout seasons. My system is basically using a binomial distribution to determine the percent likelihood of the Orioles matching the 4th record in the AL according to the adjusted PECOTA rankings. On the graph, I illustrate the slightly rougher rule which is 95 wins in the AL East.

Crawdaddy 2010 Mock Draft April Edition

Here is the April edition of my 2010 Mock Draft, which I am sure Stotle will swoop in and inform me of any misevaluations. He is a bit more sharp on these and actually travels the circuit. My estimates are based on past behavior of teams and consensus evaluations. I also tinker with the stats, which certainly have very limited value.

1. Washington Nationals – Bryce Harper, C, CC of Southern Nevada - 9MM/3MM incentives

2. Pittsburgh Pirates – Deck McGuire, RHP, Georgia Tech - 4MM

3. Baltimore Orioles – Jameson Taillon, RHP, The Woodlands HS (TX) - 6MM

4. Kansas City Royals – Manny Machado, SS, Brito HS (FL) - 4.5MM

5. Cleveland Indians – Drew Pomeranz, LHP, Ole Miss - 4MM

6. Arizona Diamondbacks – Chris Sale, LHP, Florida Gulf Coast - 3.8MM

7. New York Mets – Austin Wilson, OF, Harvard-Westlake HS (CA) - 2.3MM

8. Houston Astros – Karsten Whitson, RHP, Chipley HS (FL) - 3MM

9. San Diego Padres – Nick Castellanos, 3B, Archbishop McCarthy HS (FL) - 3.7MM

10. Oakland Athletics – Yordy Cabrera, SS, Lakeland HS (FL) - 2.1MM

11. Toronto Blue Jays – Christian Colon, SS, Cal State Fullerton - 2.2MM

12. Cincinnati Reds – A.J. Cole, RHP, Oviedo HS (FL) - 2.5MM

13. Chicago White Sox – Dylan Covey, RHP, Maranatha HS (CA) - 2.4MM

14. Milwaukee Brewers – Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, LSU - 2.5MM

15. Texas Rangers – Zack Cox, 3B, Arkansas - 2.2MM

16. Chicago Cubs – Matt Harvey, RHP, Univ. of North Carolina - 2.5MM

17. Tampa Bay Rays – Yasmani Grandal, C, Miami - 1.8MM

18. Los Angeles Angels – Bryce Brentz, OF, Middle Tennessee State - 1.9MM

19. Houston Astros – Michael Choice, OF, UT Arlington - 1.6MM

20. Boston Red Sox – Kaleb Cowart, RHP, Cook County HS (GA) - 2MM

21. Minnesota Twins – Reggie Golden, OF, Wetumpka HS (AL) - 1.5MM

22. Texas Rangers – Brandon Workman, RHP, Texas - 1.5MM

23. Florida Marlins – Josh Sale, OF, Bishop Blanchet HS (WA) - 1.8MM

24. San Francisco Giants – Stetson Allie, RHP, St. Edwards HS (OH) - 1.5MM

25. St. Louis Cardinals – Kevin Gausman, RHP, Grandview HS (CO) - 1.4MM

26. Colorado Rockies – Justin O’Conner, SS/C, Cowan HS (IN) - 1.3MM

27. Philadelphia Phillies – Gary Brown, OF, California St. Univ. - Fullerton - 1.1MM

28. Los Angeles Dodgers – James Paxton, LHP, Grand Prairie (Independent) - 1.3MM

29. Los Angeles Angels – Micah Gibbs, C, LSU - 1.3MM

30. Los Angeles Angels – Jesse Hahn, RHP, Virginia Tech - 1.1MM

31. Tampa Bay Rays – Austin Wates, OF/1B, Virginia Tech - 0.9MM

32. New York Yankees – Kyle Parker, OF, Clemson - 1.8MM

12 April 2010

Markakis Walk Tally Comparison

Markakis' walk rate collapsed in 2009 and contributed in large part to his lost value last season. Over the year, we'll be keeping track of the walk tally. So far, there is little difference between his 2008 and 2009 seasons, but this year . . . Markakis is way ahead of either season.

11 April 2010

Minor League Recap

Eventually, I think this will turn into an every few days sort of thing, but I am running through the games and here are some quick thoughts.

-Looks like Alfredo Simon was pretty sharp, but may have had some control issues. It would not surprising to see him log a couple starts in the Majors this year. He spent 72 pitches over 3 innings, notching 3 ks, 1 walk, and 3 hits.
-Kam Mickolio needed 38 pitches to go 1.1 innings. That is awful and it appears he continues to have issues with his control. Disappointing.
-Bell and Snyder both went 3 for 4 with a double a piece.
-Montanez continues to hit AAA pitching going 2 for 5.

-Caleb Joesph is looking strong early on. He popped into the discussion in a few top ten prospect lists for the Orioles this past year. He hit two doubles and a single in four plate appearances.
-Chorye Spoone put in a pedestrian performance. This is basically his make or break year. Walking two and striking out two over four innings won't cut it.
-Wilfredo Perez continues to dominate by getting save and striking out three in one inning of work.

-From the reports I heard, Hobgood was very uneven. Inconsistent release point, but his pitches did look good . . . just without the command want. He went 4 innings walking 5 and striking out 4. Not ideal to say the least. He did induce 4 groundballs to only 1 fly. I also heard that he was very agile in the field.
- Dalles hit a home run. He might be the only Delmarva hitter of note this year.

10 April 2010

Minor League Recap

Norfolk Tides
-Lou Montanez went 3 for 3 with a triple and 2 rbis. He seems to be rather proficient against AAA pitching. On a less talented team with respect to outfielders, he could probably find a slot as a 4th outfielder.
-Arrieta was all over the place over 5 innings. I am now certain there is an 80 pitch limit for MiL pitchers as he too came out at 80 flat. He threw 42 for 80 pitches as strikes. That is not good at all.
-Alberto Castillo was the only reliever to come out well. Jim Miller was slugged.

Bowie Baysox
-The only good news from the Baysox game is that Steve Johnson struck out 6 over 5 innings and was fairly efficient.

Delmarva Shorebirds
-Steve Bumbry notched two triples.
-Levi Carolus did his Conley impersonation tonight going 3 for 5.
-Jake Cowan was all over the place. Over 4 innings struck out 5 and he walked 5. Not really the best thing to do. He did log 6 ground outs and no flyouts. Outside of the walks, it is encouraging. I have high hopes for him. Kendall Volz pitched for Greenville and was a player we had suggested in the shadow draft . . . he did quite well over four innings.

09 April 2010

Minor League Recap

Occasionally, I will go and post some thoughts about the Orioles MiL system. Last night was opening day for the full season affiliates and found the O's losers in both completed games, winning in a suspended one, and completely rained out in another.

From the Norfolk loss:
-Chris Tillman pitched 4 innings. He threw 81 pitches over 4 innings, which is pretty deep with the pitch per inning rate. Only one extra base hit and one walk to go along with 5 strikeouts. A good, but not dominant, performance.
-Scott Moore played short. No word on his defense, but he misthrew a ball for an error.
-Rhyne Hughes is playing right field. He logged in a hit and a stolen base at the plate.

From the Delmarva loss:
-Ryan Berry looks like he is too advanced for loA ball. Looks like there may be a rough 80 pitch count on the early season starts. With Berry's shoulder that might be a good idea. He struck out 4 over the 5 innings and did not give up any extra base hits. I think when he arrives in Bowie in a year or two, we will then know what he has to bring.
-Towson's Brian Conley went 4 for 4 with two doubles. Outside of a fielding error, it was a good night for him. He is probably an organizational player.
-Justin Dalles logged in his first hit of the season. I am very much interested in seeing how his bat develops. In a small sample size, he hit well off of college pitchers drafted along side him in 2009.
-Bobby Bundy is in the pen. I had high hopes for him. Maybe when Berry pushes someone out in the Frederick rotation, Bundy will get the call.

Extra Innings:
Zach Britton pitched 4.1 innings before the rain came in. He had a 7:3 GB:FB ration and K'd 3 batters. The line is a typical Zach Britton line. He should put up some interesting numbers this year and challenge for a Norfolk promotion as early as July.

Looking at the third round of the 2010 Draft 3:3

In the two previous posts we have explored what would happen if Bryce Harper fell to the Orioles as well as what would happen if he does not. Of course, we should keep in mind how early it is in the evaluation process for the 2010 draft, so much can change. Today, we'll be looking at the pick that follows for the Orioles. Due to the Mike Gonzalez signing, the Orioles second selection will be the 85th overall selection, which we will refer to as 3:3 (round:selection in round).

In the past few years, Joe Jordan has shown as desire to pick up raw, toolsy players in the second and third rounds. I would put LJ Hoes, Xavier Avery, and Mychal Givens in this classification. These were high school players with high upside and were generally thought to go a round or two later. Jordan appears to trust his method of evaluation more so than the consensus as represented by periodicals like Baseball America who gather their information by talking to scouts and front office types. Jordan has also shown an interest in JuCos and College players who have significant upside, particularly pitchers. An example of this would be the selection of Jake Arrieta. It is often hard to forecast who these free fallers might be, but I will give it a try.

After the jump, a list of four prospects whom the Orioles might take an interest in.

Russell Wilson, 2B, Junior, NC State
After all of that, I am mentioning a player who does not fit either of the two characteristics mentioned above (toolsy prep position player or underrated college pitcher). What Wilson offers is a strong athletic body and great footwork. His focus on football as NC State's starting QB has certainly taken him away from the diamond and prevented him from honing his skills. Wilson has decided this season to not take part in Spring football practice and instead dedicate that time to baseball. My guess is that there will be many questions lingering when the draft arrives as to what Wilson can become and few would be interested in offering the top end second round money I think he will be asking for. If the Orioles are sold on the ceiling of his bat, they may be willing to offer him 800k. So much depends on his performance this spring that it is really difficult figuring out where he could go.

Sammy Solis, LHP, Sophomore, San Diego
Solis is a type of pitcher who may fall on draft day. His freshman year (2008) he was unable to establish himself as a starter on a staff that was led by current Oriole Brian Matusz. In 2009, he led off the season with a solid outing, got hit hard in his second outing, came down with a season ending injury, and received a medical redshirt. He comes into 2010 again as a sophomore and eligible for the draft. With the injury last season, he will need to show that his back in sound and that he is capable of putting up the numbers people expect from him. That doubt might cost him with where he is selected. Added to that, since he is a sophomore, if he is not offered the kind of money he wants to see . . . he can easily go back into the draft in 2011 and still have similar leverage as a Junior. My guess is that it will cost about 1.5MM to get him to sign. He really could go anywhere between the supplemental round to the tenth round like Sam Dyson did after he was unable to show command in his off speed pitches.

Dominic Ficociello, 3B, Fullerton HS, CA
Ficociello is a switch hitter who has split much of his time between baseball and football. The lack of dedication to one sport has probably cost him some developmental time in baseball, but based on his Summer showcase . . . Ficociello may be turning some heads this spring. He is raw and seems capable of plus power at short or above average power at third base. His 6'2, 160lbs frame has more projection in it. He is committed at this moment to Arkansas. Depending on his summer, I could see him signing around slot here. A good spring might raise him to being a second round overslot prospect.

DeAndre Smelter, RHP, Tattnal County HS, GA
Smelter does not seem to have much projection left, but he has a low 90s plus sinking fastball and a plus potential slider. If he can develop a suitable third offering, he could make it as a starter. Though he might profile best in the bullpen. My guess is that it will take supplemental first round money to sign him. Such a price made Zach Von Rosenburg fall last year and it might make DeAndre Smelter fall this year. A year at a JuCo with a better staff might help him refine his mechanics. I think he signs for about 1.2MM. Like the other numbers, watch these predictions become incredibly wrong come August.

06 April 2010

On the links . . .

Check out this very interesting article.

Now, to slightly misrepresent it, the top 5 college hitters of 2009 available for the 2010 draft.

1. Bryce Brentz 1409 OPS against drafted players in 2009 (at least 60 AB)
2. Jarrett Parker 1024
3. Gary Brown 905
4. Yasmani Grandal 834
5. Christian Colon 817

05 April 2010

Another look at the 2009 draft: budgets

Be sure to click on the following graphic . . . it will become much larger and legible.

It is a graphical representation of spending in last year's (2009) draft with respect to money spent in the first 10 rounds, last 40 rounds, and total expenditure.

What do it all mean for the Orioles? They seem to project their budget to a sort of market slotting. They rank 7th overall, while having the 5th or 6th highest slot allotment. Based on my back of the envelope calculations, they exceeded their slot allotment by about 50-60%. Now, they way they did this was rather unconventional. They devoted 40% of their budget to picks chosen after the tenth round. The Yankees were really the only other team to act in a similar fashion.

After the jump . . . what could this mean?

A major difference between the Orioles drafting and our shadow Orioles draft last year was the after tenth round budgeting. Stotle and I are much more aware of the talent that drops in the first ten rounds, so our draft budgets would probably fall more in the 95% spent in the first ten rounds . . . similar to the A's or Giants. It is a type of strategy you would expect from organizations that might prefer consensus perspectives and not isolated ones.

Joe Jordan acted differently last year and, although somewhat unique in his methodology, it kind of makes sense. If you have a few scouts who are completely sold on overlooked high school talent, then it makes sense to use several of your selections after the tenth and follow those players through summer ball and to offer overslot contract to those you like after a more extended look. This enables the scouting department the opportunity to draft more value. What I mean is this . . . if you are selecting near slot for players in the first ten rounds and then overslot afterward, you are likely to get more overall talent as the base level of talent in the first ten rounds is much much greater than in the final 40. The crux of the strategy is how good your team is at ID'ing solid overslots after the 10th pick.

What is worth more: Max Stassi and Mike Spina or Randy Henry and Michael Ohlman?
I don't know the answer to that. For the Orioles sake, hopefully Joe Jordan does.

What does this all mean for the 2010 draft?
Just a basic numbers approach would suggest a draft budget of 9.5 to 10MM. That value would not be able to draft either Harper or Taillon in addition to the rest of the draft class (around 2.5MM at slot). It may be possible that MacPhail has budgeted in extra money in case they do need to expand the money in order to fit in one of these players. Most industry sources think Matzek is superior to Taillon, but we have received every indication that the Orioles thought Hobgood (and Wheeler) were better than Matzek. Would the O's be willing to pay Taillon 3-4x as much as they did Hobgood while also not considering him to be an elite talent? Probably not. Though, they may very well have an opinion that is more in line with consensus on Taillon.

04 April 2010

2010 Projection: BoSox over Phillies; Matusz RotY

American League
East - Yankees (Orioles finishing 4th)
Central - Minnesota
West - Texas
Wild Card - Boston

MVP - Joe Mauer
Cy Young - Feliz Hernandez
RotY - Brian Matusz

National League
East - Atlanta
Central - St. Louis
West - Los Angeles
Wild Card - Philadelphia

MVP - Albert Pujols
Cy Young - Roy Halladay
RotY - Jason Heyward

Yanks over Rangers
Boston over Minnesota
Boston over Yanks

Braves over Dodgers
Phillies over Cards
Phillies over Braves

World Series
Boston over Phillies

After the jump . . . projected 2011 draft order

1. Toronto Blue Jays 62-100
2. San Diego Padres 64-98
3. Washington Nationals 67-95
4. Houston Astros 67-95
5. Kansas City Royals 70-92
6. Oakland Athletics 71-91
7. Pittsburgh Pirates 73-89
8. Detroit Tigers 74-88
9. Milwaukee Brewers 77-85
10. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 77-85
11. New York Mets 77-85
12. Baltimore Orioles 78-84
13. Chicago White Sox 79-83
14. Florida Marlins 80-82
15. Cincinatti Reds 81-81
16. Cleveland Indians 81-81
17. San Francisco Giants 83-79
18. Chicago Cubs 84-78
19. Colorado Rockies 84-78
20. Arizona Diamondbacks 87-75
21. Seattle Mariners 87-75
22. Tampa Bay Rays 88-74
23. Minnesota Twins 87-75
24. Los Angeles Dodgers 88-74
25. St. Louis Cardinals 90-72
26. Texas Rangers 90-72
27. Atlanta Braves 92-70
28. New York Yankees 97-65
29. Philadelphia Phillies 91-71
30. Boston Red Sox 95-67

02 April 2010

What happens if the Nationals select Bryce Harper?

Last week we explored what would happen if the Nationals did not draft Harper. This week, we assume they do. Honestly, I have a hard time seeing them do anything different. There are some concerned that Harper is going to demand a 10+MM contract, but I severely doubt a 17 year old with some doubt as to whether he can play a difficult defensive position would command such a price. He should go around the same neighborhood as Renaudo and Taillon. I could see the Nationals potentially selecting Renaudo, but Harper is a special prospect. Probably not a once in a generation kind of guy, but he has immense power.

What would the Pirates do?
Last time, I had them go slot. With Ranuado still on the board, I think they select him. The Pirates emerging approach is to either spend big on a polished elite college player or to go slot and recoup talent by overslotting. Of course, given that he has missed significant time this year (elbow), returning to action this past Sunday, Pittsburgh could look to another college arm with the likely candidate being Georgia Tech's Deck McGuire, Ole Miss's Drew Pomeranz or Florida Gulf Coast's Chris Sale. Other names making their case as the potential top college arm in the draft include Texas's Brandon Workman and Virginia Tech's Jesse Hahn, with a dark horse to watch former projected early-1st rounder Matt Harvey from UNC (who has shown some consistency this year to go with big-time raw stuff). Whichever player the Pirates target, the potential dearth of viable overslots and the presence of several solid "slot" candidates would probably make this easy for them.

So what do the Orioles do?
The answer is after the jump.

For the Orioles the choice will be between an elite talent, Jameson Taillon, and a bevy of potential slot picks. The growing consensus is that they would be willing and eager to select Taillon. Although, he has a strong college commitment, which may in turn make Jordan prefer to select a prospect who is more likely to sign on with the team.

If signability is an issue, I can see Karsten Whitson signing for about 500k to 1MM over slot. He still has some projection in his 6'4 frame and already works in the low 90s with his sinker. Jordan has shown over the past few seasons that he seems to scout out pitchers with pro-quality two seamers with good regularity. Here is a description of his fastball from PnR Scouting:

Whitson's fastball is a low-90s offering that can consistently get up to the 94-95 mph zone. He produces some solid boring action and should have the ability down the line to produce groundballs as well as swings-and-misses. There's also potentially more velo in there, be it through some increased strength or clean-up in his stride/plant to get a little more momentum directly towards home. Control is the only factor preventing me from grading it a true plus offering right now, but the velocity and movement are there.

With that said, I think the selection here would be Jameson Taillon. It is rare to have the ability to draft an elite talent like Taillon. A slightly lesser talent was passed on last year by Jordan (Tyler Matzek), but there were whispers of concerns about make up. I would find it hard to believe that the top prep arm in this year's draft would also have makeup issues. Everything I have read about Taillon is that he is solid on and off the field. He would be an excellent selection. Here is what PnR has to say about him:

Taillon has been nothing short of incredible each time I've seen him (on film and in person), and I do not pass that compliment out lightly. As mentioned above, his body control really stands out for such a big-body. There's an excellent combination here of well above-average pure stuff, an ideal Major League pitcher's body, athleticism and poise. In some ways, this summer will make things more difficult on Taillon, as he's set the bar very high for his spring season. At the same time, I never expected to enter the 2010 season with anyone but Bryce Harper atop my big board -- Taillon has given me reason to examine that slot more closely. He has all the makings of a potential front-end starter.

29 March 2010

Shadow Expansion: 2010 MLB Roster

After the jump I list my shadow 2010 MLB roster using the setup I laid out in an earlier post.

I set aside 60MM (spending 56.5MM) of the 70MM budget for the MLB roster. Without a good idea on how to run an expansion draft, I decided to just ignore it and go the route of free agency. The following team is not very good. Projected performance suggests this is a 66.3 win team. Only three players are signed to multi-year deals: Ryota Igarashi, Jason Marquis, and Aroldis Chapman (who will be given a chance to break camp with the team, but will most likely be in the minors). The fluidity of the team allows for the chance of type B compensation picks to arise as well as permits the team to easily discard players. At this stage in the franchise, some sort of an interesting product should be on the field . . . but that product should be flexible and easy to turn around to meet specific needs when they arise. A similar situation will also most likely present itself next offseason. The first season with a long term outlook at free agency would probably occur after the 2011 season. All players with mil are invited to camp as a non-roster invite. The fifth slot in the rotation will essentially be an open audition.

C Rod Barajas 1MM
1 Ryan Garko 0.75MM
2 Felipe Lopez 3MM
3 Juan Uribe 3.8MM
S Adam Everett 1.8MM
L Rick Ankiel 3.5MM
C Coco Crisp 6MM
R Ryan Church 1.7MM
D Russell Branyan 2.5MM

C Josh Bard 0.4MM mil
I Bobby Crosby 1MM
I Dallas McPherson 0.4MM mil
O Josh Anderson 0.4MM mil

S Jon Garland 5.8MM
S Tim Redding 0.5MM mil
S Justin Descherrer 2.5MM
S Jason Marquis 2/15MM
S Colby Lewis 2/6MM
R Josh Fogg 0.5MM mil
R Brian Bass 0.5MM mil
R Kiko Calero 0.5MM mil
R Jeff Weaver 0.5MM mil
R Wil Ohman 0.5MM mil
S Ryota Igarashi 2/4MM
C Matt Capps 3.5MM

FA – Aroldis Chapman 6/30MM

During the season, I will use the WAR prediction spreadsheets to predict how well this team would actually do. In June, the team will act with a 10MM draft budget that also must be used for international signings. Drafting at the end of the round again will probably result in 6-7MM in the rule 4 draft and the rest spent in the Caribbean. Anyway, I imagine the 2011 draft will be fun with this team.

26 March 2010

AL East Best Under-26 Team: Part 4 - Third Base

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Series Links
Intro / C / 1B / 2B / 3B / SS / OF / RHP / LHP / CL

There has been quite a layoff between pieces in this series, primarily due to some scouting trips I've taken on the amateur baseball front. We are going to keep on chugging through this series and will get through it before the start of the MLB regular season, including the selection of the All Under-26 AL East Team, as well as a quick breakdown of how each organization faired. The write-ups will be a little shorter, but hopefully we'll flesh out a little more in the comments section if they generate enough reader interest.

The third base list with brief write-ups after the jump...

1. Evan Longoria / Tampa Bay Rays (Major League)

Height/Weight - 6-2/210 / Born - 10/7/1985 / Bats/Throws - R/R
Stats - Fangraphs / Baseball-Reference / MinorLeagueSplits

Longoria has been nothing short of spectacular since joining the Rays for good in April of 2008. Tampa rolled the dice on the highly-touted rookie, immediately signing him to an extension upon arrival with the big club. Two years in, it looks to be a genius stroke from the front office, as the Rays have paid a meager $1.05 million over the past two seasons for elite offensive and defensive performance, and have the young third baseman under contract for an additional seven years -- four of those guaranteed for a total of around $14 million and the final three years with club options, totalling around $30 million with some escalator clauses that could bump it up to around $35million.

Longo has everything you'd want in a young corner infielder: plus power to go with an above-average to plus hit tool, above-average defense and a strong and accurate arm. A tip of the hat is owed to the men up top in Tampa who decided Longoria was worth an extension before completing his first month of Major League ball -- the organization could potentially saved tens of millions of dollars if Longoria continues to play as the top AL third baseman not named Rodriguez, and could easily ascend to the throne before his first contract is up.

2. Josh Bell / Baltimore Orioles (AA/Bowie)

Height/Weight - 6-3/205 / Born - 11/13/1986 / Bats/Throws - B/R
Stats - Fangraphs / Baseball-Reference / MinorLeagueSplits

Baltimore's Josh Bell (pictured) has been discussed a fair amount here, among other Orioles bloggers, and of course on the message boards. He represents the potential for an average defensive third baseman with plus to plus-plus power and an above-average to plus hit tool. There are still, however, a fair number of pitfalls for Bell to avoid before realizing that upside. The first, and most glaring, area for improvement is his hit and power tools from the right side. A switch hitter, Bell has some one of the starkest split-lines you'll see, with his 2009 slash numbers coming to .340/.419/.625 from the left side and .198/.280/.267 from the right, with 19 of his 20 HRs and 31 of his 35 2B coming from the left. Bell also continues to work on his defensive game, which still remains choppy. He'll need some time at AAA Norfolk to get more third base reps, and will need to figure out his right-handed approach or ditch the switch hit gig before earning a promotion to the big club.

3. David Renfroe / Boston Red Sox (N/A)
Height/Weight - 6-3/200 / Born: 11/16/1990 / Bats/Throws - R/R
Stats - N/A

Renfroe ranked as the #2 performer at the 2008 Under Armour All-America Game, per PnRScouting.com (Camden Depot's unofficial sister site focusing on amateur baseball), and was the third round selection of the Boston Red Sox last June. A two-way player in high school, Renfroe profiles as a third baseman as a pro, with plenty of arm, soft hands and some good potential at the plate. He fits nicely into Boston's current m.o., potentially providing plus or better defense with a slash line around .290/.340/.460
. There could be more juice in the bat than we're giving credit to here, but either way his total value could be significant taking defense and offense into account.

HM. Kevin Ahrens / Toronto Blue Jays
Height/Weight - 6-1/190 / Born - 4/26/1989 / Bats/Throws - B/R
Stats - Fangraphs / Baseball-Reference / MinorLeagueSplits

Ahrens (pictured) finds himself as our honorable mention, and while some may contend he sits here as much because of the dearth of third base prospects in the division as anything else, we contend his 2009 was much more encouraging than his basic stats might imply
. In spite of a slash line of .215/.282/.302 -- enough to make the most optimistic of Jays fans blush -- Ahrens showed improvement in his contact rate and strikezone command (decreasing his SO:BB ratio from an even 3:1 in 2008 to 2.05:1 in 2009, while maintaining his walk rate of around 11% of all plate appearances). Ahrens also may have been a victim of some bad luck, as he saw his BABIP drop from .301 in 2007 and .351 in 2008 to .259 in 2009. He plays an adequate defensive third, though the power may not be there for him to profile as more than an average regular. We expect improved numbers in 2010, and Toronto fans will undoubtedly hope to see that breakout year expected since his 1st round selection back in 2007 (16th overall).

24 March 2010

Shadow Expansion: Intro, 2008 Draft, and 2009 Draft

This is something I began on the side two years ago to see how well I could construct an organization. The idea is basically to act like you are in charge of an expansion team minus the expansion draft (which would be a bit too tedious to figure out a good approximate). Anyway, I drafted at the ends of the rounds in 2008 and 2009 as an expansion team is likely to do. This year would mark the first year a team would be fielded.

Anyway, this may be of no interest to you, but as an exercise . . . I figure I might as well just start posting these things for posterity. After the jump . . . basic rules and the minor league system as it stands.

Basic rules:
1. The team in question has been placed in the AL West.
2. Budget follows as 2008 (7.5MM), 2009 (10.5MM), and 2010 (70MM). Budgets cover MLB squad and all amateur signing bonuses for that year. After 2010, budget increases 5% each year unless that is found to be unrealistic.
3. Free agents can only be signed if it seems like a reasonable signing. For instance, it would be unlikely that Johnny Damon would choose an expansion team over the Tigers. Additional money is required to sign a player if said player chose a team based on competitive interest.
4. Trades initiated require for a trade to have happened and similar commodities are in the organization. If a real trade goes down that involves my own player, I can chose whether or not to accept. If my salary for the player is greater than the real salary of the player . . . extra players will need to be included or monetary considerations.

2008 Draft
This was probably the first year I paid attention to the draft and it appears quite obvious looking back that this is the first year I paid attention to the draft. I took charge for the first 10 rounds and then acquiesced the final rounds to the San Francisco Giants selections. Of this group, I am pleased with Flaherty, Keishnick, and Mitchell. Danks and Cook are about where I thought they would be. Gorgen and Nieto has disappointed me. I think I totally bought into the hype I heard about Thompson. Domoromo looks very promising, but Perez is very much a work in progress.

Players of note include:
Rd1 Ryan Flaherty INF B-
Rd2 Roger Keischnick OF B-
Rd3 Scott Gorgen P C
Rd4 Adrian Nieto C C
Rd5 Jordan Danks OF C+
Rd7 DJ Mitchell P C+
Rd8 Clayton Cook P C
Int Luis Domoromo RF not ranked, but promising
Int Carlos Perez P not ranked, but promising

Rd6 Brett Thompson P not ranked

2009 Draft
The 2009 draft looks far more promising, but this may be due to me being more familiar with the players involved. The draft group looks like a lot of high potential, but low probability signings. It is risky. I'm very pleased with this draft and am not disappointed yet.

Players of note include:
Rd1 Matt Davidson 3B C+
Rd2 Todd Glaessman OF C+
Rd3 Max Stassi C B-
Rd4 Ian Krol P C
Rd5 Chris Herrman C/3B C
Rd6 Madison Younginer P C+
Rd8 Kendall Volz P not ranked
Rd9 Kyle Jenson OF C
Rd10 Graham Stoneburner P C
Int Miguel Jean OF C+

Too soon.

Top 20 Prospects
This might be the thinnest MiLB system in baseball. There are certainly several individuals who could blow up big or become worthless. Beyond Flaherty, there is really no middle infield depth. It is a major weakness in the system and one that is often poorly solved in trade or free agency.

1. Roger Keischnick OF B-
2. Ryan Flaherty INF B-
3. Max Stassi C B-
4. Jordan Danks OF C+
5. Matt Davidson 3B C+
6. Madison Younginer P C+
7. Miguel Jean OF C+
8. Todd Glaessman OF C+
9. DJ Mitchell P C+
10. Ian Krol P C
11. Clayton Cook P C
12. Scott Gorgen P C
13. Chris Herrman C/1B/OF C
14. Adrian Nieto C C
15. Kyle Jenson OF C
16. Graham Stoneburner P C
17. Kendall Volz P
18. Luis Domoromo RF
19. Carlos Perez P
20. Isaac Hess P

22 March 2010

Five to Watch in Bowie

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.