27 July 2012

Midseason update: Top 25 Orioles Prospects (21- 25 and five to know)

The second part of our midseason update 25 double-feature rolls out below, covering prospects 21 through 25, plus five more to keep tabs on for the rest of the year and 2013 and one prospect that may be ready for a significant developmental change.  For a look at prospects 1 through 20 check out Part 1 (1 - 10) and Part 2 (11 - 20) of this series.  All ages listed are as of July 15, 2012:

21. John Ruettiger (of, Double-A Bowie) / Age: 22y10m / Prev. Rank: Unranked
We noted last fall that Ruettiger needed to adopt a "top of the order mentality" at the plate in order to carve-out a productive professional career. Thus far in 2012, he has done just that, seeing a big bump in his on-base production while maintaining is contact ability.  With a recent promotion to Double-A Bowie, Ruettiger is setting himself up for a chance to reach Triple-A Norfolk as soon as Hoes and Avery are vacated to either the 25-man roster or another organization.  Ruettiger still likely profiles best as an extra outfielder with a bottom-third bat, but if he continues to put together productive at bats, he could see a bump in his projection. His upside will always be limited by his utter lack of pop, so defense and getting on-base will need to be his calling cards.

22. Mike Belfiore (lhp, Double-A Bowie) / Age: 23y9m / Prev. Rank: N/A
Belfiore made the full conversion to relief work this year and has taken quickly to the role, carving-up the hitter friendly Cal League before being shipped to Baltimore in exchange for struggling Triple-A corner bat Josh Bell.  A closer at Boston College, the Diamondbacks looked to parlay his starter's build and solid 1-2 fastball-slider combo into a potential #4 arm, but the starter workload has proven to be too much for the lefty.  He currently sports a solid average change-up that can flash above-average and gives him the requisite weapon to work to both righties and lefties.  Given the state of the O's system, Belfiore could be a top 15 prospect if he continues to thrive at Bowie, and could break camp with the O's in 2013.

23. Tyler Townsend (1b, Double-A Bowie) / Age: 24y2m / Prev. Rank: 21
Townsend has yet to stay on the field for more than 72 games in a single season since starting his professional career in 2009, once again missing significant time this summer having logged just 170 plate appearances in 43 games.  The left-swinging first baseman can tantalize with solid pop (both 6'o'clock and in-game), but there's a fair amount of swing-and-miss to his game to go along with it.  Because he can't seem to stay on the field, it's tough to get an accurate gauge as to what Townsend's potential truly is.  He will turn 25 early next year, so Baltimore has little choice but to start pushing him up the ladder in hopes that they can realize some return on investment. 

 24. Zach Davies (rhp, Class A Delmarva) / Age: 19y5m / Prev. Rank: Unranked
Were it not for his lack of projection (both in physicality and in stuff), Davies would rank much higher on this list.  He is a pitchability arm with four workable offerings that could each be average after some maturation and refinement.  His fastball can come with some bore, but lacks plane or angle due to his compact frame and wingspan.  He shows aptitude for each of his secondaries considering age, but none project as a true swing-and-miss pitch at the upper levels.  The upside appears to be that of a #5 starter -- perhaps a #4 if everything breaks right.  More likely, he profiles as an up-and-down swing man capable of logging some innings out of the pen when needed, but lacking the stuff to turn over a line-up more than once.

25. Dan Klein (rhp, Double-A Bowie-DL) / Age: 23y11m / Prev. Rank: 10
In November we pointed out the issues with Baltimore's attempts to develop Klein as a starter, not the least of which is the fact that he had not surpassed 52 innings pitched in a season since he did so back in 2006 between his high school junior spring and summer.  After a SLAP tear in his labrum lead to a pre-mature end to his 2011 season, he lost his entire 2012 campaign after another shoulder procedure was deemed necessary this April.  He still checks-in on this list due to the fact that, when healthy, he is essentially Major League ready as a run-of-the-mill middle-relief arm.  At this point, however, the 24-year old will be happy to stay on the mound for six straight months at any level. 

Five more to know:
Miguel Chalas (rhp, Class A Delmarva) / Age: 20y0m / Prev. Rank: Unranked
Baltimore continues to keep the undersized Chalas in a rotation in an effort to build up endurance and keep the door open for him as a starter.  His whippy arm and inconsistent path make repeatability an issue, particularly with his slurvy breaking ball.  A "young 20", there is time for improvement, though it remains a long shot that he'll stick as a starter for much longer.  He has been hittable in his first year of full season ball, and Baltimore may be best suited to shift him to the pen and let him air it out.

Jaime Esquivel (rhp, Class A-SS Aberdeen) / Age: 20y1m  / Prev. Rank: Unranked
Esquivel was sharp in 2011 between Rookie ball and Short-season Aberdeen, but an extended look at the patient college bats that flood the NY-Penn League post-draft has resulted in a lot of walks and a fair amount of hits.  Esquivel has the body of a starter, but a limited repertoire and, thus far, an inability to locate both in and out of the zone.  He remains an arm of interest, but (like many Orioles prospects this summer) has failed to take the next step forward thus far in 2012.  He will look to finish out 2012 on a high note and will likely tackle Class A Delmarva next year.   

Henry Urrutia (of, unassigned) / Age:25y5m  / Prev. Rank: N/A
Urrutia has thus far been the "premier" Latin American signing for the O's under Dan Duquette's front office, agreeing earlier this month to a minor league contract and a $778,500 signing bonus -- an investment approximately equal to an early-2nd Rounder in the draft.  According to Baseball America, Urrutia profiles as a corner outfielder defensively, but may lack the power generally expected out of that position.  Already 25-years old, the former member of the Cuban national team will likely start his professional career in the States at Double-A Bowie.  His progress in 2013 will be an interesting look into the current scouting philosophies of the organization on the international front -- the validity of which has fallen under heavy scrutiny over the past eight months after some dubious signings (and one very public cancelled signing).

Hector Veloz (3b, Rookie GCL) / Age: 18y5m  / Prev. Rank: Unranked
Veloz was our DSL player of the year for Baltimore in 2011 and could have easily ranked in the top 25 portion of this series.  He is working through the Gulf Coast League (Rookie League) and continues to make strides defensively at the hot corner. His ticket to the Bigs, however, remains his bat.  Still capable of good pull-side power, Veloz needs to work on refining his overall approach in order to increase his square rate and cut down on the number of at bats he gives away.  Veloz is years away from having his ultimate projection determined, but for now he remains one of the true "sleepers" in the system, capable of developing into a legit top 10 organizational talent. 

Aaron Wirsch (lhp, unassigned-DL) / Age: 21y8m / Prev. Rank: Unranked
Wirsch logged just 10 innings last year before suffering a UCL tear in his pitching elbow and undergoing Tommy John surgery.  A projectable lefty out of El Toro HS (Lake Forest, Calif.), Wirsch has already put on close to 25 or 30 pounds since signing with Baltimore.  He is a true wild card, as the the former San Diego Torrero commit has yet to stay on the mound for any significant stretch of time.  Baltimore will hope to see a fresh and rejuvinated arm come spring 2013, and at 21-years old come November, there is still time for Baltimore to run Wirsch out as a starter with a limited innings count in order to determine what they have here.  Highly touted for his raw power as a first baseman back in high school, Baltimore also has the back-up option of working him out on the positional side if all else fails.

Switch it up:
Mychal Givens (rhp, Class A Delmarva) / Age: 22y2m / Prev. Rank: Unranked
It is officially time for Baltimore to waive the white flag on the "Givens as an infielder" project.  The former Plant HS (Tampa, Fla.) closer was able to hit the mid-90s as a prep arm, with the makings of a workable slider.  Fall Instructionals and Winter Ball should be utilized to try the now-22-year old on the bump -- it may be the only hope the organization has at recovering some of the 2nd Round investment made.

Midseason update: Top 25 Orioles Prospect Links
1 - 10 / 11 - 20 / 21 - 25 / vs The Depot 


Jay said...

Any thoughts on Ty Kelly?
Aggressively promoted to AAA this year but he seems to be in that mold of hitter we lack - doubles/gap power with the ability to draw walks and work the count. Just turned 24 so he was a bit old for A and AA but any shot we could see him later this year or he could work into the mix next year?

Nick J Faleris said...

Hi Jay,

Up-and-down guy for me. Lacks the pop you want out of a corner player and his 2012 production has largely been powered by an unsustainable BABIP. The plate discipline is nice, but is less likely to hold-up at the MLB level since pitchers won't shy away from challenging him.

Could be useful off the bench as a true utility player with 3b/2b/of ability, but not an everyday guy.

John said...

Is Cameron Coffey still in the system, or have injuries forced him out of the game? Does he still have any upside?

Nick J Faleris said...

Cam Coffey is indeed still in the system, currently residing on the Short-season Aberdeen roster and struggling some in limited action this year. He turns 22 in September and has yet to log 40 innings in a year since returning from Tommy John surgery (performed spring of his senior year of high school).

While some writers chalk this up to an inability for Coffey to regain form, the facts are that the "form" Baltimore touted after doling out almost seven figures for the Texas prepster was never wholly accurate. He did not show even single-digit round stuff until a handful of games his senior year, and the velo spike was promptly followed by his elbow giving out.

By all accounts he is a highly motivated and hard working kid -- unfortunately he has been saddled with slightly unfair expectations due to the bonus Baltimore decided to give him (not that dissimilar from Hobgood). The Depot certainly wishes him the best, but he's an NP for us at this point.

John said...


Since you mentioned Hobgood, is there any hope for him, in a prospect sense?

Nick J Faleris said...

Incredible long shot. He should be in the books with the scores of late-1st to 2nd Round HS arms that flamed out early, but by circumstances out of his control will instead forever be labeled an epic bust.

Not fair from a "legacy" perspective, but at least he earned a nice payday along the way.