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I’ve spent a good two hours, racking my brain, trying to come up with a band with a few good songs, and a whole lot of garbage. The problem is, no matter who I say, some fan of some band is going to get triggered. We don’t need anyone triggered, it’s Sunday Morning baby, get high feel the good vibes. So I’ll instead say Collective Soul. They had a bunch of hits, can’t remember listening to an album, ever. But they had radio songs people knew. The Baltimore Orioles are Collective Soul. They’ve had some hits over the years, most notably Manny Machado, recently Jonathan Schoop, but overall they have a lot of mediocre talents and garbage. One of the strangest dynamics of GM Dan Duquette’s tenure is his detest for the international market. He routinely deals away his bonus pool slots, and now his cash allotment, for players. Over the past 12 months he’s acquired Yerfy Ramirez, and a bunch of garbage for all of his tradable money. Needless to say, not venturing into the July 2nd market puts a lot of pressure on the Orioles to nail their draft picks. While they have hit on a couple, it’s few and far between. They’ve struggled to truly develop a frontline starter. As Kevin Gausman continues to flash equal parts brilliant and repugnant. Dylan Bundy showed promise, but still has a ways to go to reach his potential. This inability to develop frontline pitching is not due to a lack of trying. As the O’s have gone starter in the first round five of the past seven seasons. The question is, are any of them good? Short answer, more below… (Big Market Tease High Five>)

 

1. Austin Hays, OF | Level: AAA | Age: 22 | 2017 Stats: .329/.365/.593, 32 HR, 95 RBI, 5 SB

Hays ranked 20th in my top 100 prospects, and even got his own post from Grey. He’s a contact and power over approach type, with the upside to be a .280+ batting average, 30 homer bat. The worry is he doesn’t have a ton of pedigree, or a very long track record. I ranked him 20th, so count me amongst the believers. He’s currently penciled in as the Orioles starting rightfielder, and unless something changes, it makes sense. He was solid in his short stint in the big leagues, and more than that, he fits the profile of hitter that Baltimore likes, and there’s opportunity. ETA: 2018

2. Ryan Mountcastle, SS | Level: AA | Age: 21 | 2017 Stats: .287/.312/.489, 18 HR, 62 RBI, 8 SB

The Orioles top middle infield prospect and 2015 first rounder in many ways is representative of the Orioles recent prospect profile. He’s a talented contact hitter, with little approach, and plus power. Between he and Austin Hays they have two players whose skills should play in 5×5 roto formats, but will take a hit in points, OBP, and OPS leagues. Unlikely to stick at short long term, many feel his future lies in a corner outfield spot, but in 2017 he’s split time between short and third. ETA: 2019

3. D.L. Hall, LHP | Level: Rk | Age: 19 | 2017 Stats: 0-0, 10.1 IP, 6.97 ERA, 1.94 WHIP, 12 K, 10 Bb

I’m going to be honest, I’d like Hall a lot more if he was drafted by pretty much any team other than Baltimore. Sorry O’s fans, but your mans and them got a history. That said, Hall is a great talent, mixing a fastball that sits 92-95, touching 97 when he needs it, with a plus curveball, and a changeup that flashes plus. Frontline starter potential, but he has command/control issues, and some pen risk. Maybe this is silly, but he throws like a lefty Sonny Gray. ETA: 2021

4. Tanner Scott, LHP  | Level: AA | Age: 23 | 2017 Stats: 0-2, 69 IP, 2.22 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 87 K, 46 Bb

After a strong showing in this year’s edition of the Fall Stars Game, where Scott struckout 4 in 2 innings of work, the lefty’s stock is on the rise. Could be a multi-inning fireballer with an 80 grade, triple digit fastball, and a passable low 90’s slider offering. Made his MLB debut in 2017, and could see a role in Baltimore as early as April. ETA: 2018

5. Chance Sisco, C | Level: AAA | Age: 22 | 2017 Stats: .267/.340/.395, 7 HR, 47 RBI, 2 SB

It’s taken 4 and a half years to get to Baltimore, but with Wellington Castillo off to free agency, there’s a chance…Sisco is the opening day starter behind the dish. His ability to hit for average has always been his calling card, with his power lacking behind, but during a 10 game stint in the bigs he hit 2 homers, and flashed some pop. Perhaps he has some juiced ball magic in his bat? Either way Sisco will be up in Baltimore this year, but I expect mediocre fantasy results. ETA: 2018

6. Hunter Harvey, RHP  | Level: A | Age: 22 | 2017 Stats: 0-1, 18.2 IP, 0.96 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 30 K, 3 Bb

The long road back from a string of injuries finally took a positive step. Harvey returned to the mound late in the season, and looked good in short spurts. The former first rounder has been truly riddled by injury, and perhaps some of the blame is on the team. His full season debut was cut short in 2014, as he was shutdown with elbow soreness. This manifested itself in a strain that caused Harvey to miss the entire 2015 season. When he returned last year he made it four starts before leaving his fifth with elbow soreness. This was the straw that broke the camel’s elbow, as he finally had Tommy John. Now he’s back, and the hope is he can build up strength and return to his former self. When right, he has a deadly three pitch mix, led by a plus-plus curveball, and low to mid 90’s heat. He has plus control, and could move quickly if he can stay healthy. That’s a big if. ETA: 2019

7. Cedric Mullins, OF | Level: AA | Age: 23 | 2017 Stats: .265/.319/.460, 13 HR, 37 RBI, 9 SB

Mullins hit the DL twice with hamstring injuries, but managed to build on his breakout 2016. A campaign that saw him near the top of the Sally League leaderboard in several categories. Mullins is a switch hitter that brings speed, and advanced feel for hitting. His ceiling is leadoff hitter with 15/20 upside. ETA: 2019

8. Anthony Santander, 1B/OF | Level: AA | Age: 23 | .382/.453/.745, 5 HR, 14 RBI, 0 SB

One of the more unheralded power bats in the minors, Santander was a Rule 5 steal from the Indians. He has solid game power, and gets to it a lot. A switch hitter, Santander’s swing is stronger from the left side than the right. While with Lynchburg in 2016 he killed the Carolina League, though he was old for the level. In 2017 he was excellent coming back from a shoulder injury, lighting up AA before tasting the majors. Santander should be in the mix for at bats at the MLB level next season, and is a real sleeper for sneaky power in deeper dynasty leagues. ETA: 2018

9. D.J. Stewart, OF | Level: AA | Age: 23 | 2017 Stats: .278/.378/.481, 21 HR, 79 RBI, 20 SB

A former first round pick, Stewart has long had trouble living up to expectations. I’ve always been a little more optimistic than most, and he rewarded my faith with a 20/20 season in 2017. Stewart is wide bodied, but he moves well for a big man, and flashes above average athleticism. He swings a quick bat from the left side, with plus on base skills, and good instincts on the basepaths. Should get some time at AAA before reaching the majors later on in 2018. Has some under the radar upside, but where does he play in a crowded Baltimore outfield? ETA: 2018

10. Adam Hall, SS  | Level: Rk | Age: 18 | 2017 Stats: .667/.667/.1.000, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 1 SB

A Canadian prep standout, Hall is an excellent hitter with a clean swing, and upside at the plate. He has the defensive chops to stick at short, making him a nice pick for shortstop hounds, looking for value in first year player drafts. He has lightning fast bat speed, quick hands, and plus athleticism, that will allow him to adjust at every level. ETA: 2021

11. Keegan Akin, LHP | Level: A+ | Age: 22 | 2017 Stats: 7-8, 100 IP, 4.14 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 111 Ks, 46 Bb

Another highly drafted lefty arm, Akin has a plus fastball, above average slider, and average changeup. He has good velocity for a southpaw, hitting 96-97 with regularity. Solid command and control, particularly of his fastball, which he uses effectively to both sides of the plate. Could be up at the end of the year if he breaks out, but more than likely will get his first taste in 2019. ETA: 2019

12. Zac Lowther, LHP | Level: A | Age: 21 | 2017 Stats: 2-2, 54.1 IP, 1.66 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 75 Ks, 11 Bb

After a storied amateur career that included, leading the Cape League in strikeouts, and K/9 in 2016, while setting school records at Xavier. Taken 74th overall in this year’s draft, Lowther continued to miss bats, despite sub-par velocity on his fastball. He is the perfect example of why missing bats is more than elite velo. He commands the pitch, hides the ball well, and it features some nasty run. Meaning it’s nearly impossible for hitters at the lower levels to pickup. It will be interesting to see how quickly Lowther moves next year, and if his lack of velocity catches up to him. He also features an above average curveball, and fringe to average change. ETA: 2019

Find all of the 30 Minor League Previews, and Offseason Rankings on the Minor League Index
On Twitter as @ProspectJesus

   
  1. Bryce and Nice says:
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    Picked up Austin Hays on the final day of the season for my dynasty team. Not a bad $1 investment for the next 3 years.

  2. Miketron says:
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    Has Santander played 1B or is that just a speculation based on his injuries? Would he really get any playing time there with Davis/Trumbo blocking?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Miketron: A bit of the speculation. Don’t forget Mancini either.

  3. Jose says:
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    Ralph, I wish I had posted last night before the AFL game. I look at the lineup before the game and saw Acuna hitting 5th and in LF and immediately said to myself : Acuna is going to be pissed for being dropped down and playing LF on a nationally televised game. He is going to hit two HRs tonight and sure enough he hit a shot the first time up and followed with another one and then was walked the next two ABs.
    I would like to see him hit 3rd and Riley 4th in AZ for the last week.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Jose: Yeah, the lineups don’t always make sense, but the kid is a star man. Insane the skills he has.

      • Jose says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: I can’t wait for mid season next year Acuna, Reyes, Buehler and Urias, should all be helping my teams.

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Barksdale says:
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          @Jose: Only one on that list that’s questionable is Urias. Depends how aggressive the Padres are with him.

          • Jose says:
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            @Ralph Barksdale: Wrong Urias mine is LAD lhp Julio, coming back from shoulder surgery. I am not sure about his ETA, but i am hopeful he is back by mid season.

            • Ralph Lifshitz

              Ralph Lifshitz says:
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              @Jose: Oh snap! The old Urias switch!

  4. Randy says:
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    You seem down on the Orioles system, but this crop of hitters is the best they have had in a long time.

    I do agree they are the worst at developing pitchers, except for Jake Arrieta of course!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Randy: It’s a pretty rough system outside the first few spots. It’s really just Hays and Mountcastle, I’m not sure Sisco, Santander, Mullins, and Hall are in many fantasy top 10’s. At least in good systems. It’s an improvement, but I’m not going to sit here and say it’s not a bottom third system.

      They develop pen arms for sure. Arrieta needed to leave Baltimore though.

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