06 April 2011

Five Keys to Watch in Frederick

As the Orioles minor league system goes this year, single A Frederick does not offer the promise that is on show in Delmarva, Bowie, and Norfolk.  However, there are several second and third tier prospects who might break out this year.  Including the first player on the list, who has been a follow of ours since he was drafted in the 8th round back in 2008.

Bobby Bundy, RHSP (21 years old)
Bundy was an 8th round selection due to his tearing his anterior cruciate ligament while playing basketball before his senior baseball season.  He rushed back to the mound and pitched while wearing a brace.  His velocity was down, but the Orioles saw enough of the player who was there before the injury to take a chance on him and give him an overslot contract.  Working off the injury and as an 18 year old, it took Bundy about a year and a half for every thing to start clicking.  In 2010, Bundy threw 116 innings at 3.65 with 7.1 k/9 and 3.3 bb/9 rates.  These are not exceptional numbers, but they are solid for a 20 year old in Delmarva and show considerable improvement.  Lapses in command of his fastball (leaves it up sometimes) and his curve (flattens out) still need some more ironing out, but he is becoming more proficient at pitching.  I am looking forward to seeing him throw live for the first time.

The name will also be familiar to those following the draft.  His younger brother Dylan is looking to be drafted in the first 15 picks in June.  There is an off hand (incredibly off hand) chance Dylan is drafted by the Orioles.

Jesse Beal, RHSP
Beal has been mentioned by some as a poor man's Zach Britton.  His numbers have not been quite equal to those of Zach, but he has passed through each level a year younger than Britton.  He is a big guy (6'6") and he throws a heavy fastball, inducing a great deal of ground balls.  His breaking ball and change are still works in progress.  He does not produce many swing and misses, but manages to get hitters to top off on his fastballs and produce weak grounders.  That type of pitcher is one is hard to project.  With each level, he will need to prove himself as more advanced hitters lay off fastballs moving down and beneath the zone.  Those groundballs typically turn into a greater number of line drives.  Zach Britton has been able to defy conservative projections.  How Beal does this year will be a good indication of whether he could do the same.

Dan Klein, RHP
Klein will be throwing this year from the bullpen as he works up innings.  He will likely be groomed as a starter in 2012.  This is what Nick Faleris wrote about him last year:
Klein is an interesting proposition in that his medical history, aggressive demeanor on the mound and fastball/curveball combo all seem to point to a career in relief (as was his role this spring at UCLA). However, with his change-up and slider also as potentially solid offerings, and with some strength in his legs and core, there is enough raw material here to give him a serious run at a rotation spot. The big question will be how his shoulder holds-up under the stress of a full season pro workload, but there is also a question as to whether the stuff will maintain its effectiveness over five to seven innings and over the course of a season. There is some risk here developing him as a starter, but the injury history and his season in the pen mean you can take a shot at a potential mid-rotation arm at a discount. As a redshirt-sophomore, he has some leverage and could head back to UCLA to up his value as a weekend starter alongside 2011 potential 1st Rounders Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer. He has set-up upside in the pen, and his fastball/curve/change don't need a ton of work to play against pro bats.
Klein is another interesting pitcher to anticipate seeing in Frederick.

Matt Hobgood, RHP
What can one say about Matt Hobgood?  He has just recently begun throwing after suffering an injury this past off season.  He will likely pitch for the Keys mid-way through the season.  He has been largely underwhelming during his professional career.  The hard fastball and hammer curve that were seen before the 2009 draft have not entire appeared at this level.  His fastball has been consistently in the upper 80s and the curve has lacked command.  He has shown flashes of being a good pitch, but not as often as was hoped when he was selected.  The hope is that his injury is not serious and he has become more devoted to his workout regime.  He has yet to fail at any level, which needs to be emphasized . . . but we have not seen anything to make us think he will be an average MLB player.

Tyler Kelly, 3B
Kelly has some interest to me.  He is not on many follow lists, but he has shown some interesting skills.  He has been sufficient as a third baseman, which is useful.  He also has shown some secondary power, hitting 30 doubles last year.  If more of those can be turned into balls deposited over the fence, it will increase his value immensely.  He has also shown a good ability to draw walks.  However, a major problem is making good contact.  It is difficult for a low minors hitter with a .261 batting average to successfully graduate through the minors.  There is some potential there and fans will probably enjoy seeing him out there.

I hope I am proven wrong about Frederick.  I would be hard pressed to name someone beyond these five.  I'll see them quite a lot this year, so we will see.

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