State of the system - Baltimore Oriolesby Jeff Moore
February 21, 2012
Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado.
That’s really all you need to know about the Orioles farm system.
Want to know more?
That’s the next level. He’s pretty good too.
After that? It’s a long way down for the Orioles' farm system.
A farm system that was as good as any a few years ago, a system that offered Matt Wieters , Adam Jones, Jake Arrieta, Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz, is long gone.
No farm system in the majors has a bigger disparity between top and bottom as the Baltimore Orioles'. Bundy and Machado, the best prospects in the system, are a part of the reason for that.
Machado is among the best shortstop prospects in baseball. Bundy is among the most refined pitching prospects to have come out of high school in years.
Machado debuted last season in Low-A ball, and tore it up before a knee injury interrupted his season. Playing alongside him was Schoop, who was a natural shortstop, but played third base in deference to Machado. This is what happens when a third overall pick and a signee from Curacao play the same position at the same level.
Schoop posted an .890 OPS in Low-A Delmarva before a promotion to High-A Frederick. where he struggled with his power, a struggle on par to the .859 to .692 OPS drop Machado experienced making the same jump.
Schoop doesn’t have the same draft pedigree that Machado does, but the two are the future of the Orioles in the field, and as long as they are committed to Machado at short, Schoop will have to learn either second or third base—both moves the team thinks he can handle.
After Schoop and Machado, the position player pool gets pretty shallow. I’d like to say that luckily after that the pitcher pool is deep, but I’d be lying. It’s Dylan Bundy or Bust.
Bundy was a good enough draft pick out of high school to warrant a major league contract, and is a better prospect at 18 than was Arrieta, Matusz or Timlan. He’s still a long way away from Camden Yards, but not as far away as your typical prep pitcher. He has yet to pitch professionally, but he’ll start in full season ball and might not be more than two years away from the majors.
After that big three, there’s a significant dropoff. The Orioles have some interesting athletes in the field, but there are some serious questions about whether any of them will hit enough to stick.
L.J. Hoes has been on the prospect radar since being drafted in 2008, and in a weak system, his athleticism stands out. Last year, for the first time in professional career, his production caught up with his tools, and he finally hit over .300, and more importantly, walked almost as much as he stuck out. He’s been playing second base primarily and needs to stay, a significant question, for his bat to play properly.
An even better athlete than Hoes is Xavier Avery, a fellow 2008 draftee who has yet to hit at all, and has an atrocious strikeout-to-walk ratio, but has enough athleticism to keep the Orioles interested. In over 600 Double-A at-bats, he’s yet to slug over .400.
Others to watch
Nicky Delmonico and Jason Esposito—a pair of 2011 corner infield draftees, both need to develop for the Orioles system to bounce back.
Bobby Bundy, Dylan’s older brother is a capable pitcher in his own right. He’s a mid-to-low level prospect in most systems, but he’s worth keeping an eye on for the Orioles.
Jeff Moore is the creator of MLBProspectWatch.com, your one-stop site for all the information you need about minor league prospects. He can be reached via e-mail at mlbprospectwatch AT gmail DOT com and can be followed on Twitter at @MLBPW