Baltimore Orioles 2009 Minor League Review
Overall farm ranking via Baseball America (2009)
2009 (9) | 2008 (16) | 2007 (17) | 2006 (25) | 2005 (18)

Record of Major and Minor League Teams
MLB: [64 – 98] AL East
AAA: [71 – 71] International League
AA: [73 – 69] Eastern League
A+: [64 – 75] Carolina League
A: [66 – 70] South Atlantic League
A(ss): [30 – 44] New York – Pennsylvania
R: [30 – 26] Gulf Coast League
R: [33 – 35] Appalachian League

The Run Down
The Orioles 2009 season was full of rookies and their possibilities. They graduated eight players, and nearly nine as Brian Matusz fell short by one solid start (5 1/3 IP). Everyone was awaiting Wieters’ promotion, but it was Nolan Reimold who stole the rookie show while Chris Tillman roofied your pitching staff. Nevertheless, for those savvy fantasy players, there was always Brad Bergesen who was helpful before he was hurt in August. If you’re looking for Grey’s article about Brian Matusz’s Fantasy Outlook for 2010 and where he ranked Chris Tillman and Matusz in his Top 80 Starters article, there ya go… It’s going to be difficult for the Orioles to compete in the East that is dominated by New York and Boston. However, there are some nice young players that received little hype prior to the 2009 season that should still fly under the radar. Namely Reimold, Tillman (because he didn’t pitch like Tommy Hanson), and Brad Bergesen. While everyone wants in on the Wieters, Roberts and Jones, look for the Reimold, Markakis and Tillman/Matusz to perform better than their ADP. If you want to review, Tillman’s Scouting the Unknown, enjoy the reading.

Graduating Prospects
#1 (C) Matt Wieters; #2 (RHP) Chris Tillman; #5 (OF) Nolan Reimold; #16 (RHP)David Hernandez; #17 (RHP) Jason Berken; #18 (RHP) Brad Bergesen; #28 (OF) Lou Montanoz; (SS) Robert Andino

Arizona Fall League Players – Phoenix Desert Dogs
Pitchers – Brandon Erbe; Eddie Gamboa; Josh Perrault; Ryohei Tanaka
Hitters – (3B) Josh Bell; (1B) Brandon Synder; (1B) Brandon Waring; (OF) Mat Angle

Players of Interest – 2010
#8 (LAD) Josh Bell | 3B | AA | 22 | .295/.376/.516 | 448 AB | 57 XBH | 20 HR | .221 ISO | 98:61 K:BB | .342 BABIP | 45.6 GB% | 18.2 LD% | 36.1 FB%
Received in the George Sherrill trade last year, Bell is the future third baseman for the Orioles. Meaning, 2010 – just waiting for Miguel Tejada and, or, Garrett Atkins to stumble or get hurt. However, don’t let “future …” get into your head. His upside is .270 to .290 with 20 to 25 homers a season. Think Adrian Beltre, but without the glove – Bell’s glove is average at best. He’ll be given every opportunity to earn the third base position in the next 18 months as Baltimore lacks many quality bats in their farm system. This is most notable outside the first base position.

#9 Brandon Snyder | 1B | AA/AAA | 22 | .289/.362/.460 | 463 AB | 52 XBH | 12 HR | .171 ISO | 109:51 K:BB | .356 BABIP | 41.8 GB% | 22.2 LD% | 36 FB%

The numerous extra base hits look great, but what Snyder provides is gap power with the ability to hit 15 to 20 homers during his prime. It’s important to note that he struggled mightily while at Triple-A posting a slash line of .248/.316/.355 in 263 at-bats. Scouting reports note that he was trying to prove his power potential, thus, he was pull-conscious and swinging for the fences. Upon his promotion mid-season to Triple-A, Snyder was aided by an extremely high BABIP (.400). His defense at first base is above-average and looks like a Conor Jackson-type skill set. Nothing to scoff at, just not exciting. If the Orioles are ravaged by injuries and he performs well, his ETA could be this upcoming summer. Otherwise, watch for his name in September.

#4 Jake Arrieta | RHP | AA/AAA | 23 | 8.3 K/9 | 3.3 BB/9 | 150 2/3 IP | 3.40 ERA | 3.63 FIP | 1.31 WHIP | .8 HR/9 | 8.5 H/9 | .312 BABIP | 38.6 GB% | 18.1 LD% | 37.1 FB%
@AA: 10.7 K/9 | 3.5 BB/9 | 59 IP | 2.59 ERA | 3.00 FIP | 1.15 WHIP | .6 HR/9 | 6.9 H/9 | .281 BABIP | 36 GB%
10.2 LD% | 48.3 FB%
@AAA: 7.7 K/9 | 3.2 BB/9 | 91 2/3 IP | 3.93 ERA | 3.97 FIP | 1.42 WHIP | .9 HR/9 | 9.5 H/9 | .323 BABIP | 39.9 GB% | 21.9 LD% | 31.6 FB%
I included the stats/ratios from Double and Triple-A on purpose. Overall his numbers look pretty good. Upon further examination though, it was noticeable that he struggled somewhat at Triple-A. Nearly 24 (birthday is on 3/6/86 aka this Saturday), Arrieta isn’t going to be written off. His track record shows that he is an effective starter that can strikeout nine batters per nine innings and limiting the number of hits allowed (7.6 H/9 career). Arrieta did lead all minors with 148 strikeouts in those 150 innings. Improving his command will be a key for him to make it to the majors in 2010. For a more detailed look at him, look at his Scouting the Unknown.

#6 Brandon Erbe | RHP | AA | 21 | 7.6 K/9 | 4.3 BB/9 | 73 IP | 2.34 ERA| 4.09 FIP | 1.08 WHIP | .6 HR/9 | .205 BABIP | 41.9 GB% | 10.7 LD% | 40.9 FB%
Often injured, Erbe possesses as much upside as Tillman, Matusz, and Arrieta. His mechanics are better than they once were, but that’s like saying Nick Punto is better than Paulie Punto, his brother who never played baseball. It just doesn’t take that much. This is more of a shoutout than a guy you can count on. He throws his fastball between 93 and 95 mph, a sick, nasty slider and a potentially plus change. Having the potential to strikeout a batter every inning is what every fantasy manager lusts after, but don’t gaga for this surgically made man.

#10 Kam Mickolio | RHP | AAA | 25 | 10.7 K/9 | 3.3 BB/9 | 43 2/3 IP | 3.50 ERA | 3.25 FIP | 1.10 WHIP | .8 HR/9 | 6.6 H/9 | .272 BABIP | 28.6 GB% | 17.6 LD% | 45.4 FB%
Nothing more than a middle reliever for fantasy purposes. He is able to get his fastball up to 98 mph to partner with a ankle-biting slider. This combo allows for him to post some nice K-rates. His mechanics are sloppy and inconsistent. Consequently, like Erbe, his control is spotty. With a rather empty bullpen beyond Mike Gonzalez, Jim Johnson and Cla Meredith, there should be a spot for Mickolio to make the 25-man roster out of spring training.

Jim Miller | RHP | AAA | 27 | 8.2 K/9 | 2.6 BB/9 | 64 2/3 IP | 2.64 ERA| 2.87 FIP | 1.28 WHIP | .4 HR/9 | 8.2 H/9 | .324 BABIP | 32.8 GB% | 25.3 LD% | 39.4 FB%
A bit old, but another middle reliever for everyone to watch this spring. He has better control of his pitches and doesn’t have the injury risk. A career 10 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 pitcher in the bullpen could be wonderfully delightful for the Orioles. If you want to see his ETA, look up about three inches.

Honorable Mentions
#26 Brandon Waring | 1B/3B | A+ | 23 | .273/.353/.520 | 473 AB | 63 XBH | 26 HR | .247 ISO | 121:51 K:BB | .318 BABIP | 34.5 GB% | 12.7 LD% | 52.6 FB%
Power? Check. High Strikeout totals? Check. Future? Uncertain. Received as part of the Ramon Hernandez trade to the Reds for Ryan Freel and Justin Turner to provide a clear opening for Wieters. Waring provides plenty of intriguing possibilities himself. He played first base this past year so another prospect could play third. Plus, he probably won’t stay at third for very long. Reducing his strikeout rates from 156 time in 441 AB in 2008 to 130 times in 497 AB shows considerable progress. There is concern that he’ll end up as a Quad-A/Triple-A slugger or a power bat off the bench. However you look at it, Waring provides plenty of questions only he can answer. Power can’t be taught, but the other aspects of his game can. He received 29 PA at Double-A last year and expect to see him there to open the seaosn.

#30 Caleb Joseph | C | A+ | 23 | .284/.337/.450 | 380 AB | 37 XBH | 12 HR | .166 ISO | 64:26 K:BB | .317 BABIP | 37.5 GB% | 11.9 LD% | 50.6 FB%
Not that the Orioles need another catching prospect, right? Well, a solid backup or trade bait never hurt. Joseph should be the former as he is trending towards being an average prospect. His 2010 Baseball America ranking is 10. In 2009, Joseph proved himself as a good defender with an acceptable arm from behind the plate. His swing isn’t going to produce a lot of extra base hits, but he’ll make solid contact. His plate discipline, in terms of walking, isn’t great, but he doesn’t swing go outside the strike zone too often either. Next year will be a big test for him at Double-A to see how he handles the pitching staff, his hitting, and defense.

Ronnie Welty | RF | A | 21 | .290/.373/.425 | 431 AB | 36 XBH | 10 HR | .145 ISO | 13/5 SB/CS | 120:46 K:BB | .383 BABIP | 50.6 GB% | 14.2 LD% | 34.8 FB%

#12 Zach Britton | LHP | A+ | 21 | 8.4 K/9 | 3.5 BB/9 | 140 IP | 2.70 ERA | 1.27 WHIP | .4 HR/9
Minor League Splits didn’t have his extended stats on their website. Interesting since he is one of their top arms. Armed with an 88 to 92 mph two-seam fastball, an improving changeup that started as average, and a four-seam fastball. His ground outs to air outs was a startling 3.38 GO/AO. That is jaw dropping. He’ll get more attention as the season goes along, but he could be the next “sleeper” minor league pitcher – maybe my next Jeremy Hellickson (the minor league pitcher I drool over until he gets his MLB promotion).

  1. and1mcgee says:

    can the purpose of posts like this one be explained? we can’t draft any of these guys yet, right? so…. ??????? i’m confused.

  2. Grey

    Grey says:

    @and1mcgee: Some people play in dynasty leagues. They do need to know about these guys.

  3. Smell The Glove says:

    Well, for what it’s worth Josh Bell has 2 Home Runs today in his first spring action as an Oriole. Doubt he’ll make the team out of spring training but he’s doing his job so far.

  4. brad says:

    @and1mcgee: reading about guys before they start getting majorly hyped it’s easier to know whether or not to get caught up in it.

  5. Stephen says:

    @and1mcgee: What Brad and Grey said, plus, it gives everyone an advantage over the average baseball follower. Everyone will know about the extremely hyped prospects (Wieters is the prime example) but few people will notice the Nolan Reimold’s, Kevin Slowey’s, etc., before they are in the majors. Keeping one step ahead of the crowd helps to avoid any damage caused by mass stampeding and keeping you winning the league.

  6. airlifting says:

    per kevin goldsteins chat @BP, bell went deep twice today. once against garza. (though given garza’s HR problems last year, that might be a bit less impressive..)

  7. Ryan says:

    What you didn’t mention about Britton is that his startling 3.38 GO/AO rate is due to a devastating sinker – one of the best in the minors. Keep an eye on the kid.

  8. and1mcgee says:

    that makes total sense. so in “dynasty” leagues, you ca draft AAA and other minor leaguers??

  9. brad says:

    @and1mcgee: yeah, many keeper or dynasty leagues have a minor league roster spots

  10. Stephen says:

    @Ryan: It was implied, but thanks for adding to the diagnostics.

  11. Quintero says:

    I was waiting on your writing on Josh Bell and painfully realized that you and I share basically the same view on him. Sometimes you just feel that you can be wrong for once.

    Trade for Pedro Alvarez!

  12. Chicago Mike says:

    @Gray: Could you do a post regarding the top players that are in a contract year? I think that would be very helpful to your readers.

  13. Stephen says:

    @Quintero: There is value in Bell just not Pedro Alvarez type upside.

  14. Huey Lewis says:

    Whaddya think about Brad Penny as a last round flyer? I heard he and Duncan were caught in the back room and ol’ Dave was sprinkling some mystery dust over Penny’s arm. McGwire saw them walk out and instantly became jealous.

  15. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Huey Lewis: Nice username. Not a terrible late round flier, he was a bit lucky on San Fran though. Wouldn’t expect near those numbers.

  16. Bill Lumbergh says:

    I took a late round flier on Tillman in my dynasty league. Think he’ll be useable this year or am I going have to ride this one out?

  17. Stephen says:

    @Bill Lumbergh: He’ll be valuable, but it depends on how deep your league is and how knowledgeable your league-mates are. Think about 7 K/9 | 3.3 BB/9 | 4.50 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP

  18. mc serch says:

    @Grey: Hey Grey, Just finished a 12-team roto draft over at Yahoo, picking out of the three hole I ended up with this:
    C Posada (14th)
    1B Morneau (4th)
    2B Kinsler (2nd)
    SS H. Ramirez (1st)
    3B Beltre (12th)
    OF G. Sizemore (3rd)
    OF Werth (5th)
    OF Carlos Lee (6th)
    U Berkman (9th)
    U A. Rios (11th)
    SP J. Johnson (7th)
    SP Nolasco (8th)
    SP Garza (10th)
    SP Oswalt (13th)
    SP Slowey (15th)
    SP E. Santana (18th)
    RP Aardsma (16th)
    RP Wood (17th)
    RP Jenks (19th)
    RP Dotel (20th)
    RP Capps (21st)
    RP Lyon (22nd)
    B J. Pierre (23rd)

    It was a weird draft, with Hanley dropping to me at No. 3 (Dude took Greinke at number 2!), Kinsler dropping to me at the end of the second, Grady dropping into the third, and Morneau dropping into the 4th. None of those guys were on my radar going in, but couldn’t pass them up. I guess these guys dropped because they have injury questions so this team is more risky than I would usu. draft. The pitching is solid I think, so the issue is one of health. In that situation, is it wise to draft extra bench hitters, or to continue with strategy of filling the bench with pitching? For example, I could have taken Headley late instead of another closer but opted for the closer. One last question, having missed out on 3B early, should I have taken Beckham over Beltre at round 12? I know you have him ranked a lot higher but that is because of the 2b eligibility, no? I like Beckham as a later 2b option, not so much as a 3b this year. Projections actually seem to favor Beltre a bit.

  19. Grey

    Grey says:

    @mc serch: I would’ve took Beckham over Beltre, but that could work out fine. At third, they’re really not that different. Kinsler gets hurt and you might want that Beckham eligibility. I would’ve took a closer instead of a bench hitter. Your pitching looks fine, I like that Oswalt pick there, helps stabilize your staff a bit. If Beltre performs as he can in Boston, your hitting will be fine too.

  20. mc serch says:

    @Grey: That’s a real good point about Kinsler and Beckham’s flexibility, hadn’t thought about that at all. As for Oswalt, I’ve been picking him up as a #4 starter in rounds 12-13, which is a bit surprising but nice. Thanks.

  21. Tony says:

    Ya these posts are great so that you can have a guy when he’s cheap and let someone else pay for him next year when he’s costing a high price….

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