- 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.
PitchersOh, the off-season! Some dread the thought of the doldrums when the World Series is in the books, and have already circled that date in February when pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training. Marc and I adore this time and our post-season work has already been pushed over the apex and will be racing toward 2017 Opening Day. Marc started our annual Organizational All-Star lists last week, highlighting his Under the Radar hitting prospects in the A.L. East. This week, the focus moves toward those who will be named as a 2016 UTR-OAS for their work on the mound. I’ll be shaking up the format this year. I’ll be posting the overall Top 5 starters and will place a mention toward the Top 3 relief pitchers. I wanted to narrow the focus toward the best using my overall formulas. I would also like to alert our followers of those outside my radar, and will review those from previous lists over the last two years. A blurb may appear that’ll include a review of those pitchers I tagged last season; to see how they fared in 2016 and whether they remained on the radar or floated off into space. Lastly, we will take a peek into the International Leagues to see who made some noise within my system. This could be the first peek of those arms that may hit the States in 2017. So let’s get started with the Orioles…….. As a Redditt reader recently commented when Marc’s hitters list was posted…”junk, junk, and maybe something.” This sums up the pitchers, as a whole, on my Orioles spreadsheet. I actually had this eerie feeling that most of my 2016 lists may emulate what you’re about to read. Last year at this time, excitement was building in that my draft work was producing a decent crop of UTR pitchers, which may prove to be the best since taking on this endeavor. Looking back at the 2015 Orioles OAS, David Hess was tagged as a “Legit UTR” in topping the list after making the 2014 edition. He took his lumps in 2016 as the Bowie Baysox staff ranked near the bottom of the Eastern League. Other 2016 Legit UTR’s Mitch Horacek became hittable in repeating at Hi-A Frederick, while Joe Gunkel was one of the bright spots this season, spending most the season with Triple-A Norfolk. At the International level, Jhon Peluffo was my 2016 “One to Watch” and made his U.S. debut with the GCL Orioles, which was very successful, but was promoted to LoA Delmarva where he was over-matched in his 3 starts. I expected my 2015 International OTW Tomas Leoncio to make his debut in the states this past season, but the 21 year-old ended up spending his 4th season in the DSL where he took a step back. Top 5 Starting Pitchers – Factor Score/TPS 1. RHP Cristian Alvarado – 20/.093 “Legit UTR” / Solid Stash
- 22 years old (LoA Delmarva)
- International Free Agent – 2011
- 2016 “One to Watch”
- 2015 Organizational All-Star – #4 TPS
- Alvarado legitimized his pre-season “One to Watch” honors by having a very successful full season with LoA Delmarva. The righty made 27 starts (148 IP) and bolstered his K/9 rate to 9.0, compared to 6.9 in 2015. He repeats as a UTR-OAS and earns the “Legit UTR” tag. He should make a few Oriole top prospect lists this spring.
- 21 years old (LoA Delmarva)
- 3rd round – 2014
- Gonzalez is the only Oriole top prospect that was ranked within my top 10.
- 23 years old (LoA Delmarva / Hi-A Frederick)
- 24th round – 2014
- Long’s outlier stat of 17 home runs allowed in 146.2 inning (1.0 HR9) is scary, but the TPS liked his performance this season with HiA Frederick. He just recently turned 24, so his 2017 season could be make-or-break time.
- 19 years old (LoA Delmarva)
- International Free Agent – 2013
- Peralta made the jump from the Gulf Coast League (2015) into his first full season at LoA Delmarva. His numbers were respectable despite having issues with his control. He walked 60 batters in 103.1 innings, uncorked 14 wild pitches and plunked 7 batters. Still…a lot to like in the lanky righthander (6’5″ – 195 lbs.) who won’t turn 20 until the 2017 season begins.
- 19 years old (Short-Season Aberdeen)
- International Free Agent- 2015
- The Aussie lefty makes his debut as a UTR-OAS after his first pro season with Short-Season Aberdeen. Stay tuned to see if his twin brother (Lachlan) makes the list with the Minnesota Twins.
- 22 years old (HiA Frederick)
- 3rd round – 2015
- Backed up a successful short-season campaign by striking out 102 in 76.1 innings.
- 22 years old (LoA Delmarva / HiA Delmarva)
- 11th round – 2015
- Meisinger ranked as the top reliever in last years Organizational All-Star rankings and will earn the “Legit UTR” tag.
- 22 years old (HiA Frederick / Double-A Bowie)
- 6th round – 2014
- 2015 Organizational All-Star – #2 TPS
- Scott has hit 100 mph, but needs to harness his control with his 8.0 BB9 rate