02 June 2011

Cup of jO's (June 2, 2011): Law Updates his Top 25

Oakland 1, Baltimore 2
Box Score / Play-By-Play / AP Recap

Yesterday's game was significant, not because the O's finally won a game on their road tripe (though that's nice), but because Brian Matusz made his return to Birds for his first start of 2011. Watching Matusz throw -- effective without his best stuff -- was a nice reminder of the front-end arm that emerged last season and has been largely absent thus far in 2011. The O's are lucky to have him back.

What caught my eye...

The item that caught my eye this morning was an updated top 25 prospects list from ESPN's Keith Law (requires ESPN Insider). Two big (pleasant) surprises for O's fans are Manny Machado (ss, A Delmarva) jumping sixteen spots from 26 to 10 overall, and Jonathan Schoop (3b, A Delmarva) being listed as someone Law is "watching for the next update."

While both Schoop and Machado have been terrific thus far in 2011, I have to say it was somewhat surprising to see both jump so dramatically in such a sort period of time -- Machado after just 25 games of action, having missed the past month with a displaced kneecap. Schoop's performance has a little more "meat" to it, as he has shown pop and a solid eye at the plate over 220+ plate appearances (essentially a third of a Major League season). Shifting over to shortstop in Machado's absence, Schoop has shown why third base is his long-term destination, but at the hot corner he has flashed workable hands and a strong arm.

Law is one of the most commonly sourced analysts when it comes to prospect rankings, so O's fans should be highly encouraged by the mentions of Machado and Schoop in his latest piece. The more conservative evaluator in me, however, is cautious to go overboard before Machado or Schoop have taken a second spin through the Sally. Perhaps more importantly, both Machado and Schoop have some questions as to whether they will stick at short and third, respectively. With two prospects three levels below the Majors, those concerns would cause me to a little more hesitancy in bumping their rankings so aggressively (Machado to a top 10 prospect in all of baseball and Schoop potentially from outside the top 100 to inside the top 25 overall). At the same time, the more carefree baseball fan in me is thrilled to see the two O's farmhands placed into a truly elite category of player. With lots of disappointments in "Birdland" this season, I'm inclined to go carefree for the day and place conservative evaluation on the back burner for the time being. Now, if we can only get Mr. Law to take a look at Bobby Bundy....

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