I got you something for Chrimbus! It’s a jar of tartar sauce. Oh, you don’t like it? Then how about some Baltimore Orioles pitching prospects instead? That tartar sauce is looking a lot better now, you ungrateful reader. Pitching prospects break all the time, but the Orioles seem especially good at it. Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey still have a lot of upside, and of course they will still be perched atop most Orioles lists, but both will also need to prove healthy to regain their lost fantasy value. I own a share of Bundy myself, so I feel your pain out there. Harvey is just a big bowl of I don’t know. Get past those two risky arms, and there are two hitting prospects I like a lot…power lolita Jomar Reyes and 2015 breakout Trey Mancini. If you need more instant gratification, Baltimore is currently in the process of signing Korean import Hyun-soo Kim. Praise Rang! So while this system isn’t a treasure trove of impact fantasy talent, there’s at least enough here to pass the time while you wait in line to see Winter Man. Remember – keep your Chrimbus bush trimmed and wet for Winter Man and he’ll bring you that pasta bear you’ve had your eye on.
Tier 2: Floorboreds
Lacking the “star” upside. They might have some warts, but their ETAs are on the horizon.
Hyun-soo Kim, OF | Age: 27 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: KBO
2015 Stats: 630 PA, .326/.438/.541, 28 HR, 11 SB, 16% BB, 10% K
Technically the Kim deal isn’t finalized as I write this, but unless something crazy happens he’ll most likely patrol left field for the Orioles this season. Like most KBO hitters the stats are bonkers, but a realistic expectation in MLB would be 15 homers, solid average and on-base, and enough counting stats to matter if he ends up hitting in the top half of the lineup – essentially an OF4. Prepare for the usual growing pains as he transitions to MLB, and I’d treat him more as a “win-now” piece in dynasties with an Opening Day age of 28.
Trey Mancini, 1B | Age: 23 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A+/AA
2015 Stats: 571 PA, .341/.375/.563, 21 HR, 6 SB, 5% BB, 16% K
Mancini enjoyed a big breakout in 2015. He wasn’t highly ranked on most prospect lists coming into the year, and proceeded to destroy Double-A when he was promoted – hitting .359/.395/.586 with 13 homers and 29 doubles in 354 plate appearances. If you temper power expectations to around 20 homers, Mancini looks like a solid buy for average and on-base percentage. Of course, it’s generally better practice to buy before these breakouts occur than after.
Dylan Bundy, RHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AA
2015 Stats: 22 IP, 3.68 ERA, 2.0 BB/9, 10.2 K/9
One way or another we’re going to see Bundy in the majors this year since he’s out of options. Whether that’s as a reliever to limit his innings, or as a back-end starter, Bundy’s going to pitch in Baltimore. That is, of course, if his arm doesn’t fall off. Bundy’s feeling “great”, but had yet another setback in the AFL, so we’re definitely not out of the woods. The upside is still there for a frontline starting pitcher, but right now there are too many question marks to pay for it.
Hunter Harvey, RHP | Age: 21 | ETA: 2017? | 2015 Level: DNP
2015 Stats: N/A
If Bundy feels too safe for you, then maybe Harvey is a better fit. The 21-year-old hasn’t pitched since July…2014. His most recent shutdown was due to elbow discomfort, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up needing Tommy John. Maybe they’ll jerk us around a little bit first and say he’s fine for spring training though. Like Bundy, Harvey has tremendous upside when he’s healthy, but these arms remind me of Russian roulette with six bullets.
Joey Rickard, OF | Age: 24 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: A+/AA/AAA
2015 Stats: 480 PA, .321/.427/.447, 2 HR, 23 SB, 14% BB, 16% K
The Orioles snagged Rickard in the Rule 5 draft from the Rays this year. The nice thing about Rule 5 picks is that they usually get a decent shot at playing time since the teams that draft them have to keep them on the roster. I don’t think Rickard will have the same impact that DeShields or Herrera did last year, but he has has good plate discipline, contact skills, and speed. That’s a good bet for some stolen bases, which are hard to come by in deep formats. There’s upside for more if an injury or other circumstance vaults him into an everyday role.
Christian Walker, 1B | Age: 24 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AAA
2015 Stats: 592 PA, .257/.324/.423, 18 HR, 1 SB, 8% BB, 23% K
Walker was in line to see a healthy amount of plate appearances at first base if Davis walked, but then the O’s went and signed Trumbo and at this point Crush is still in the mix as well. Mancini is right behind Walker and offers more upside anyway, so Walker is stuck between the current MLB talent and a hotter prospect. If you’re looking at him as a low-risk depth piece and not relying on him as your first baseman, I think it still makes sense to have some shares in deeper dynasties.
Chance Sisco, C | Age: 20 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A+/AA
2015 Stats: 384 PA, .297/.376/.415, 6 HR, 8 SB, 11% BB, 14% K
Sisco has enough pop to get to 12-15 homers and he can certainly hit enough not to hurt your average or OBP, but if you own shares it’s best if he clicks as a catcher, and right now that’s not a given. His bat could probably hang in the majors later this season, but like a lot of catching prospects the defensive side of his game could delay the debut.
Dariel Alvarez, OF | Age: 27 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AAA
2015 Stats: 560 PA, .277/.309/.426, 16 HR, 8 SB, 3% BB, 12% K
I was pretty high on Alvarez going into last season, and while his Triple-A numbers were solid, he never really surfaced in the bigs and AAA stats don’t win me anything. Now the Kim signing and the Rule 5 selection of Joey Rickard muddy his playing time picture once again, limiting his value to AL-only leagues or as a reserve piece in deeper mixed formats. The best case scenario is he gets a shot in right field and sticks, but there are a lot of moving parts on the roster at the moment.
Josh Hart, OF | Age: 21 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A+
2015 Stats: 445 PA, .255/.282/.311, 1 HR, 30 SB, 2% BB, 18% K
Hart is your typical center field profile with plus speed, but to bring more fantasy value to the table he’ll need to do more of the things that table setters typically do…like walking…or hitting. Hart’s still just 21 years old and yet to reach Double-A, but outside of deep dynasties where you play with 29 of your closest friends I don’t see a reason to roster him yet.
Mike Yastrzemski, OF | Age: 25 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AA
2015 Stats: 536 PA, .246/.316/.372, 6 HR, 8 SB, 8% BB, 19% K
Yes, Virginia, there is an outfielder with fringe average power and speed and marginal fantasy value outside of mono leagues. His name rhymes with Pastrzemski and he’ll probably spend most of the year in Triple-A. If you play in a league where you get excited about players like this then we really need to get together and geek out in person. Perhaps put a Carl Yastrzemski Donruss puzzle together to pass the time.
Mike Wright, RHP | Age: 25 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AAA/MLB
2015 Stats: 81 IP, 2.22 ERA, 2.8 BB/9, 7.0 K/9
I had a hard time choosing between the boring starter in Wright and the strikeout machine reliever Givens. 2015’s stats are likely the best case scenario for Wright, who’s really a BORP with good control and it looks like he’ll start the season in AAA. If you need depth for your deep league rotation he’s not a terrible option, and since he skirted under the eligibility limits you can stash him on your farm, which is a plus.
Tier 3: Long Shot Lolitas
Sexy ceilings, but these youngsters also come with risks and distant ETAs.
Jomar Reyes, 3B | Age: 18 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: Rk/A
2015 Stats: 354 PA, .277/.336/.437, 5 HR, 2 SB, 6% BB, 22% K
Reyes is huge and brings a lot of power potential to this system. It hasn’t shown up yet in stats, but I really like Reyes as a buy that you let cook on your farm for the next year or two, hoping that he blows up in fantasy value if the double-plus raw does start to surface as he advances. His size could lead to a move across the diamond, but you’re buying the bat and there’s enough power that he’d still be a fantasy asset at first base. He’s really the only player on this list that has a 30+ homer ceiling and he’s still just 18.
Ryan Mountcastle, SS | Age: 18 | ETA: 2019 | 2015 Level: Rk/A(ss)
2015 Stats: 209 PA, .296/.325/.393, 4 HR, 10 SB, 4% BB, 22% K
If Mountcastle was a lock to stick at short, his above average power would be even more appealing, but most reports on the 2015 draftee see him moving to third base or the outfield. 20 homers will still play there just fine, but keep that eventual defensive change in mind when deciding where to select him in dynasty drafts this winter.
Ryan McKenna, OF | Age: 18 | ETA: 2019 | 2015 Level: Rk
2015 Stats: 41 PA, .265/.366/.324, 0 HR, 1 SB, 15% BB, 15% K
You need to look a little deeper to find McKenna in the 2015 batch. He went in the fourth round and it’s basically a hit/speed profile that could end up as a top-of-the-lineup bat if everything clicks. He’s a flyer and has a long way to go, but it’s cheap upside.
D.J. Stewart, OF | Age: 22 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: A(ss)
2015 Stats: 268 PA, .218/.288/.345, 6 HR, 4 SB, 9% BB, 19% K
The Orioles selected Stewart with their first pick of the 2015 draft. The outfielder is an average hitter with power and *should* move quickly in the minors, but he didn’t have the greatest debut and his defense limits him to left field/first base. That means the bat will have to carry him, and .218 as a 22-year-old in short-season is just kinda meh.