State of the system – Baltimore Orioles

Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado.

That’s really all you need to know about the Orioles farm system.

Want to know more?

Jonathan Schoop.

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.

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  1. DShea said...

    The O’s farm system never had Adam Jones. 

    And, even when it had some of those other guys, it barely ever was ranked any higher than just barely above average (and I think that was generous).  I’m not sure where the idea that it was “as good as any” comes from.  It’s certainly not based in reality.

    The Oriole scouting and player development system has been awful for years, at least since the 1990s.  They draft poorly, and, if it’s possible, they develop even worse.  The farm system is in a shambles, and is simply another part of the Angelos debacle.

  2. Robert Dudek said...

    Have to agree with above comments. Since Brian Roberts, the Orioles have only produced Markakis and Weiters and a few pitchers who might be good someday.

  3. DShea said...

    jeff, I think it might help if you thought about looking at a range of system rankings.  BA is just one and even if their top ranking is 9th, that still puts the O’s closer to the middle of the pack then the top of the heap which is what “as good as any” means to me.

    In that period, the O’s did look to have a wealth of pitching promise.  I think a good look at a system, however, recognizes the huge challenges of turning pitching promise into real major league value.  I also think a “state of the system” look has to deal not only with player potential, but the ability of an organization to develop that potential.  I was never that high on the Oriole system, because they provided little evidence that they knew how to guide a player’s development.  Even when they had player’s with potential, they’ve show little ability to develop that potential to its maximum. 

    I think BP has it right.  The only debate is whether debacle or disaster is the best choice to describe the Oriole’s system.

  4. Zach said...

    I’m a lifelong Orioles fan, and Robert Dudek is unfortunately absolutely correct. And he’s even being nice…downright generous, really. Baltimore’s farm system sucks. Always has. Always will until ownership changes hands, and I won’t tempt fate by cheering on another man’s mortality, even if that man’s name is Peter Angelos. I can only bide my time. The system that brought us Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters and a bevy of equally forgettable pitchers is the same system bringing us Machado and Bundy and Hoes and Avery. In other words: I’ll believe it when I see it. In Camden Yards. This is a system that is far more effective at producing hype and false hope than players who generate wins. Don’t get me wrong, Wieters is really good and headed in the right direction, and Markakis is consistently ok, and Britton and maybe one of the other Pitchers Who Shall Remain Nameless could work out. But will any of them be a true star? Will Adam Jones? And if not, will this front office ever figure out how to spend its money on the right free agents? And if they do, will they actually be able to get said free agents to accept that money? What is the premium we pay for such a lengthy history of ongoing ineptness? The Orioles aren’t competing in the near, or even intermediate future. And how much will homegrown talent impact the turnaround when—who am I kidding, IF—it happens? I’m tired of being the case for realignment, and of hearing about why it should happen. This organization has only itself to blame. That the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays are all teams easy to imagine representing the AL in the World Series come October, and that Toronto is headed in a more competitive direction, isn’t the reason we will continue to finish last for the forseeable future. No. Let’s face it: this team wouldn’t win—nay, wouldn’t even finish higher than third—in a division if their competition was the Astros, Pirates, Twins, Mariners and Padres. Not with Buck Showalter as manager. Certainly not with Dan Duquette as GM. And not with Peter Angelos as owner. Don’t get me wrong: I want to believe. I do, more than anything. I love baseball and the Baltimore Orioles more than anything in sports. But at this point, it’s all pathos. That’s all the Orioles have. And Peter Angelos didn’t sell it to me. My mother and uncles and cousins instilled it in me. Growing up in Rochester watching our prospects play, listening to games on the radio, seeing Cal play at Camden Yards during the streak, listening to my mom talk about seeing Brooks Robinson, my grandfather reminiscing about World Series victories, rotations with four twenty game winners…it feels like I’m talking about a team that doesn’t exist any more. Because from that tradition, to the last decade and a half is a transition that is too painful, and too inconceivably irresponsible on the part of ownership, to think about for very long. It’s the kind of thing that shakes your fanhood to the core. Because you have to ask yourself: what if it never changes? What will this all have been for? My loyalty has never waned and will never change. But my faith is nearly gone, and with it, the best part of being a fan: the hope that this might be our year. I would like to have at least one year like that in my lifetime. If I’m lucky, I’ve got several decades left. But the tunnel is long, and dark, and the light at the end of it…well, let’s just hope it’s orange.

  5. Jeff Moore said...


    You’re right about Jones.  When he got to the Orioles system he was 9 at-bats past the prospect/rookie threshold.  I still considered him part of the Orioles future after that trade when I recollected back for this article, so even though he wasn’t technically a prospect, I lumped him in as such.  I’ll take the blame for that one.

    But the O’s system was ranked 9th overall in back-to-back years by Baseball America in 2008-9, so I think they were more than generously “barely above average.”

    My point waws that, at one point, their future pitching staff of Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, and Jake Arrieta seemed like a legitimate future to build upon, and now it’s Dylan Bundy and a huge drop off.

    That’s quite a step down from what they were a few years ago.

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