27 March 2011

Five Shorebirds to Watch in Delmarva

For those of you who might be interested, here is a quick list of players to pay attention to in the low minors.  Finishing up my doctorate last year, I managed to see only a single game at Bowie (it was a tough long summer), so these assessment are a product of some video, my thoughts before last season, and various reports all mingled together.  I am also assuming where certain players may wind up.  First up . . . the Delmarva Shorebirds.  This is the team I am most excited about in the Orioles system and I am hoping to venture over to the Eastern Shore a few times this season, enjoy some minor league ball, and eat some Smith Island Cake.

Jonathan Schoop, 3B (19 years old)
I've never seen Schoop play, but he was certainly garnering a good deal of attention last year in training camp and then in the Gulf Coast League and the Appalachian League.  A shortstop last season, he will likely be shifting over to third base for the Shorebirds to accomodate 2010 first round selection Manny Machado.  This move expedited a switch that was likely to come later on based on body shape.  Schoop has shown good plate discipline and secondary power that might develop into above average power.  At this moment, he appears to be the most valuable international prospect the Orioles currently employ. 

Mychal Given's Predraft ESPN Photo
Mychal Givens, INF (21 years old)
Givens has had some trouble to begin his career.  He was an older high school senior, held out until the end for a contract after being drafted, was thought to be more advanced as a pitcher, and quickly broke his thumb a few games into the season last year.  However, in a handful of at bats he dominated Aberdeen, getting walks, doubles, and home runs.  It was quite a small amount of plate appearances to gauge anything on, but it leaves hope that his bat is far better than he showed in high school or for what I credited him.  Although his plus arm and average-ish range is not ideal for second base, I imagine he will slide over there in Delmarva.  I think he will likely be patroling the outfield by the time he reaches Bowie . . . or pitching.

Manny Machado, SS (18 years old)
Machado was the Orioles first selection (third overall) in last year's draft.  He managed to take in a few plate appearances in Aberdeen and did not look overmatched.  His first major test will be in Delmarva where he stands to play shortstop for the Shorebirds.  My expectations for him will be that he will at least hold his own and will likely be one of the better hitters in the league while playing average defense (for a A- shortstop).  I still fear that as he matures, it will force a move to third base where his bat will look less impressive.  That sentiment though finds me in a great minority.  Everyone else I talk to thinks he will be able to stick at short and develop into an average defensive shortstop.

Micheal Ohlman, C (19 years old)
I listed Ohlman here because there really are not any other big ticket items here and Ohlman carries a 1MM signing bonus from the 2009 draft.  Last year found him with several injuries and being completely overmatched with his hitting.  At 6'4, his catching skills are likely to never develop into a beneficial characteristic of his play, so the Orioles need his bat to develop.  This is not exactly a make or break year for him as a player, but in my mind it sure seems to be in terms of keeping track on him past 2011.

Bridwell tossin' for Whitefaces
Parker Bridwell, RHSP
Here is what co-founder of Camden Depot, Nick Faleris, had to say about Bridwell last year:
Bridwell is still mostly projection, but there is a lot to like given the room in his frame to add strength and his easy arm action producing upper-80s velocity. He is a multi-sport talent with good athleticism, which should help him to incorporate pro instruction into his motion without throwing things out of whack. Schrader may be the best value of the draft for Baltimore, capable of dialing up to the 94-95 mph range and regularly sitting in the low-90s. He also shows-off a hard low- to mid-80s slider with sweep and dive, giving him a prototypical combo for late-inning work. He racked up SO/9 and SO/BB rates of 15.97 and 3.67, respectively, this spring along with a .217 BAA. If he can show an ability to spot his slider against advanced bats, he could move very quickly.
He could be a very exciting player to watch.  I've heard nothing but positives about him over the off season.

Based on what we currently know about the players this year in Delmarva, I suggest you all go and see them play.  Much of the Orioles potential up and coming talent will be found there.

As a sad aside, one of the players I noted to watch last year was a promising pitcher by the name of Vito Frabizio.  He had dropped out of high school, move to Florida, and was said to be avoiding the trouble that chased him up in Jersey.  In 2009, he was able to rack up strikeouts and few walks.  He never threw a pitch last year for the Orioles because he was released with people mentioning that he was uncoachable and disrespectful (this was incorrect, I was informed otherwise since publishing, but am not able to share what I have been told).  I hoped it would be a wakeup call and he would find himself with an Indy team and back with a MLB club this spring.  None of that lost promise matters now as he was arrested this past week in connection to a robbery.  He admitted that the money was stolen in order to buy heroin.  I hope he finds help.

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