Welcome to the 2nd Annual UTRMinors.com Organizational All-Stars series. The past minor league season offered up another great year of surprises, not so surprising and new kids that made things more interesting and much deeper than in years past. Which is the beauty of what we do. Nothing ever stays the same. The cycle never ends and that always makes our work so incredibly intriguing.
There has been a modification in our off-season schedule. After deliberation, Jim and I felt it was best to stretch out our hitter and pitcher posts. Therefore, this week, you’ll see the American League East UTR Organizational All-Star Hitters. Then starting next Monday, October 31st, Jim’s A.L. East OAS Pitchers will begin posting. Same format (alphabetical, Monday-thru-Friday), just stretched out through two weeks instead of cramming all the hitter and pitcher information into one post. We’ll follow this schedule all the way through March when we conclude with the National League West. We hope this helps streamline things for everyone.
As always, we welcome any and every bit of feedback. We feel this year could be our best OAS to date. We hope you agree.
Let’s kick things off with the Baltimore Orioles.
- C – Yermin Mercedes – 23 yo
- 3.73/.910 – PAG/APPA (LoA Delmarva – 3.85/.916; HiA Frederick – 3.39/.890)
- 2016 stats: .345/.404/.570; .974 OPS; 31 doubles, 20 home runs, 255 TB
Mercedes was the clear-cut catching choice, as he posted a combined 3.79/.910 PAG/APPA while splitting time with LoA Delmarva and HiA Frederick. In fact, no catcher in the system was even close. It’s common to see a prospect’s numbers either dip after a promotion or rise with a demotion, but the 5’11” – 175 lb. righty saw only a slight APPA dip from .918 with LoA Delmarva to .890 after his July 30th promotion to HiA Frederick. Mercedes 31 doubles ranked second amongst all Oriole (UTR qualifying) prospects, and by the way, he was this season’s South Atlantic League batting champion too.
- 1B – Aderlin Rodriguez – 24 yo
- 3.58/.860 – PAG/APPA at HiA Frederick
- 2016 stats: .304/.359/.532; .891 OPS; 26 home runs, 263 TB
In his final season of UTR eligibility, the 6’3″ – 210 pound Dominican’s 26 home runs led all Baltimore prospects including those in AA Bowie and AAA Norfolk.
- 2B – Pedro Flores # – 20 yo
- 2.83/.632 – PAG/APPA (DSL2)
- 2016 stats: .267/.397/.304; .701 OPS; 48:19 BB:K
Flores brought a solid PAG/APPA to the table, but the Venezuelan switch-hitter’s walk rate is what landed him on this year’s list. Only Trey Mancini, Quincy Latimore, #1 prospect Chance Sisco and Joey Terdoslavich drew more walks in 2016. But the difference? The four organizational mates listed here all logged their time in full-season leagues. Translate Flores’ stats to a full-season? He would’ve drawn 104 free passes, which would have led the entire minors including all foreign and independent leagues. Some food for thought.
- 3B – Antony Morillo * – 18 yo
- 2.73/.659 – PAG/APPA (DSL2)
- 2016 stats: .243/.351/.370; .721 OPS; 13 doubles
I’m as big a fan of top 3B prospect Jomar Reyes as anyone. He’s a physical beast at 6’3″ – 220 lbs, and I get that Morillo is an 18-year-old in DSL while Reyes is a 19-year-old playing in the Carolina League. But statistically speaking, pound-for-pound, the Dominican-born Morillo posted a better overall season. This is UTR after all. Morillo repeated DSL2 in 2016 and improved in every offensive category. I predict Morillo will see a promotion to the GCL in 2017. Reyes has experienced his share of offensive up-and-downs during his three-year pro career. I predict he’ll begin 2017 in HiA, and could see a quick promotion to AA Bowie if he shoots out of the gate.
- SS – Ryan Mountcastle – 19 yo
- 2.85/.671 – PAG/APPA (LoA Delmarva)
- 2016 stats: .281/.319/.426; .745 OPS; 26 doubles, 10 home runs.
Considered the top shortstop, and a top 10 overall prospect in the system, the 2015 1st-rounder out of Paul J. Hagerty HS (Oviedo, FL) built upon an admirable debut in 2015 (in the GCL and SS Aberdeen) with an improvement in every statistical category during his first full-season with LoA Delmarva.
- LF – Randolph Gassaway – 21 yo
- 3.04/.773 – PAG/APPA (SS Aberdeen – 4.20/1.050; LoA Delmarva – 2.92/.745)
- 2016 stats: .340/.384/.535; .919 OPS; 16 doubles, 107 TB in 55 games
The 6’4″ – 210 lb. Gassaway finally figured things out in 2016 after posting a combined 2.10/.545 PAG/APPA in his first three seasons as a pro. The 2013 – 16th round righty out of Riverwood HS (Sandy Springs, GA) brought both the hit tool and power this season; and for the UTR vision, you can’t ask for more than the improvements (mostly against lefties) Gassaway showed this season. I could have chosen HiA org-mate Jay Gonzalez, a 2015 OAS, who led all Baltimore prospects in steals with 41, but Gonzalez is less than two months away from UTR age criteria disqualification. I suspect Gassaway may repeat LoA in 2017 in an attempt to log his first full-season of at-bats.
- CF – Cedric Mullins # – 21 yo
- 3.56/.789 – PAG/APPA (LoA Delmarva)
- 2016 stats: .273/.321/.464; .785 OPS; 37 doubles, 10 triples, 14 home runs, 30 SB
If you’ve been following UTRMinors, you’ll know that I’m not a big fan of rankings. It’s not my job to say Player A is better than Player B. I let the stats do the talking and (I’m sorry Professor Young, but I have to do it) let “the cream rise to the top.” However, if I were to hypothetically rank this year’s Baltimore OAS prospects, Mullins, a 5’8″ – 175 lb. switch-hitter out of Campbell University (Buies Creek, NC), would be my unequivocal #1. The 2015 – 13th rounder deserves much more love. He’s one of only eight prospects in all the minors to post double digits in home runs, doubles, triples and steals this season. His 61 extra-base hits tied for second in the minors (with HiA Daytona’s Aristides Aquino) – behind TEX/ATL second baseman Travis Demeritte – and ranked fourth amongst all Oriole players behind only Manny Machado – 78; Mark Trumbo – 74 and Jonathan Schoop – 64)
- RF – Austin Hays – 21 yo
- 3.21/.797 – PAG/APPA (SS Aberdeen)
- 2016 stats: .336/.386/.514; .900 OPS; 9 doubles, 4 home runs; 72 TB in 38 games
I wasn’t going to choose another top prospect, however, there are some organizations that force your hand. By no means am I taking anything away from the 2016 – 3rd rounder out of Jacksonville University (FL.) With Cedric Mullins taking up the CF spot on my list, I shifted Hays to RF, but the 6’1″ – 195 pound righty might profile more as a CF with his contact-first approach, plus speed and strong arm.