C – Ben Breazeale – With Chance Sisco entrenched as the Birds everyday starter and Austin Wynn as his primary backup, Baltimore needs every moment they can to develop their next catching prospect. The 2017 – 7th round pick Breazeale was the best HiA to DSL backstop option in 2018. A year and a half older for SS Delmarva, Breazeale provided better defense than offense with a .991 fielding percentage, but did show a good eye at the plate with 33 walks to 59 strikeouts.
1B – Wilson Garcia – We like to try adding players to the OAS list who combine a blend of both performance and projection. But sometimes straight performance has to take center stage. The now 25-year-old Garcia spent his final season of UTR eligibility batting .295 and blasting 23 home runs for HiA Frederick after a late April trade from the Phillies organization.
2B – Preston Palmeiro – This is an unofficial “now we’re getting somewhere.” It’s no secret that the Baltimore organization lacks several true blue-chip prospects. At 24, the 5’11”-180 lb. lefty is far from a blue chipper, but he sure held his own in 2018 batting .251, swatting 17 homers (fifth in the Carolina League) and clubbing 19 doubles. I had a hard time passing up fellow second baseman Kirvin Moesquit though, who stole 49 bases in his first taste of full-season ball with LoA Delmarva.
3B – Trevor Craport – The third base position offers some intrigue. The 2017 draftee from Georgia Tech (2017) rapped out 26 doubles, 11 home runs, and his 72 RBi’s led all prospects HiA and down. But word has it that the system may give uber-hitter Ryan Mountcastle a look at the hot corner. But for an organization that prides itself on their defense, Mountcastle has plenty of work to do, posting a .913 fielding percentage in 81 games for AA Bowie last season.
SS – Adam Hall – The 2017 – 2nd rounder out of AB Lucas Secondary School (London, ON, Canada) ranked second the New York-Penn League with 22 steals last season. Hall has a chance to take that next step to becoming one of Baltimore’s better hitting prospects after ending last season on fire. I love this kid.
LF –Zach Jarrett – Nothing fancy here. Jarrett tied for the Orioles HiA to DSL lead in RBi’s (72; with Trevor Craport above) by hitting 26 doubles, six triples and 14 home runs. But, anyone who follows this system knows that Austin Hays is the (eventual) left fielder of the future. In fact, Baltimore has a nice glut of OF to sift through for the next few seasons, with Cedric Mullins, DJ Stewart and Trey Mancini currently manning Camden Yards.
CF – Ryan McKenna – Here is the official “Now we’re getting somewhere.” By and far, the 4th round draft pick out of St. Thomas Aquinas HS (NH) in 2015, is ready for AAA or even the major league cup of coffee. He crushed HiA Carolina League pitching to the tune of a .377 batting average, 18 doubles and eight home runs, before a mid-June promotion to AA Bowie, where he (expectingly) slowed down. McKenna’s combined numbers this season scream breakout if applicable, and I fully expect him to add another stellar year to his resume and start the conversation of pushing one of the major league OF listed above for playing time.
RF – T.J. Nichting – With the outfield depth listed above, Nichting, at 24 years old, is pretty much organizational depth, despite belting an organizational high (AAA – down) 36 doubles across LoA Delmarva and HiA Frederick last season.
Top 5 Starting Pitchers – (Factor Score) / Highest Level Attained
1. LHP Zac Lowther – (24)/ HiA Frederick
** I really didn’t need my system to sort-out Lowther as the top UTR-OAS for the Orioles. He dominated over two levels and was the club’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
2. RHP Michael Baumann – (17.5) / HiA Frederick
** Baumann could be a fast riser within the Orioles system. After 84.2 innings across two rookie levels in his 2017 debut, the 6’4″ 225 lb right-hander quickly found himself at HiA Frederick by late May. With a 4-pitch mix that includes a mid-90’s fastball, that allows him to work deep into games, the 23-year old could crack the Birds’ Top 10 prospect list for 2019.
3. RHP Cristian Alvarado – (16)/ HiA Frederick “Legit UTR” / Solid Stash
** Unbelievably, Alvarado has graced this feature for four straight seasons, including the “One to Watch” honor in 2016. The now 24-year-old has held the “Legit UTR”/Solid Stash tag since 2015, but has yet to crack any publication’s top prospect list for the Orioles. He repeated HiA Frederick last season, so I’m excited to see how his wares play-up at Double-A Bowie. Keep in mind, since his International signing in 2012, Alvarado only averaged 59.1 innings over his first four seasons. He has since become a workhouse over his last three seasons, in logging an average of 147.1 innings in 26 starts. Look for his star to shine brightly in 2019 and capture the attention of Oriole fans.
4. RHP Brenan Hanifee – (14.5) / LoA Delmarva
5. LHP Cameron Bishop – (13) / LoA Delmarva Top 3 Relief Pitchers – (Factor Score) / Highest Level Attained
1. LHP Zach Muckenhirn – (7) / Double A Bowie “Legit UTR”
** Muckenhirn ranked 4th as UTR-OAS after the 2017 season as a starter, but his stock rose in 2018 with the move to the bullpen and advancing across three levels.
2. LHP Tyler Erwin –(7) / HiA Frederick
3. LHP Nick Vespi – (6) / LoA Delmarva