Due to some lean years at the major league level, the Baltimore Orioles have selected in the top 10 in eight of the past ten years. This lack of success has frustrated Baltimore’s diehard fans, but these early selections have allowed the Orioles to collect perhaps the most impressive collection of high-ceiling pitching prospects currently in the minor leagues. Due to the mounting losses in recent years, Baltimore has garnered an unfavorable reputation for developing prospects, but this current crop should discredit that notion and return “The Orioles’ Way” back into the vernacular of baseball.
Currently the strengths of this system are the number of starting pitching prospects on this list, and in particular, their close proximity to reaching the major leagues. Conversely, the main critiques of this system include the dearth of impact hitting prospects, and the lack of overall prospect depth. That said this system is on the rise and should provide Orioles fans with plenty of optimism for the future.
Next 10 (Alphabetical Order):
Daniel Alvarez OF, Parker Bridwell RHP, Zach Davies RHP, Josh Heim C, Branden Kline RHP, Adrian Marin SS, Olelky Peralta RHP, Stephen Tarpley LHP, Henry Urrutia OF, Christian Walker 1B
10) Michael Ohlman C/1B
Ohlman led the Carolina League last season in hitting, batting .313/.410/.524 with 13 home runs and 29 doubles. Questions exist about his defense behind the plate, but his raw power and compact swing should allow Ohlman to carve out a successful major league career.
9) Josh Hart OF
The 37th selection in the 2013 Draft, Hart is an elite athlete who profiles as an outstanding defensive centerfielder, although questions exist about his potential as a hitter. He does not expect to hit for much power, but could develop into a dynamic leadoff hitter in a few years.
8) Tim Berry LHP
A polished left-hander with a quality three pitch mix, Berry possesses a compact pitching delivery and locates his 90-93mph fastball throughout the strike zone. Berry profiles as a back-end starting pitcher, perhaps late in 2015.
7) Chance Sisco C
The Orioles 2nd round selection this past summer, Sisco has a short, quick swing with raw power, but with questions about his future as a catcher, as he has only played the position for a year and a half. With the potential to be an above-average hitter and defender, Sisco has one of the highest ceilings in the system.
6) Jonathan Schoop 2B/3B
The top hitting prospect in the Orioles system, the 22-year-old Schoop struggled through an injury-filled season in 2013, after a noteworthy performance for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic last spring. Schoop possesses a strong throwing arm, along with a unique combination of power and hitting ability from an infield prospect.
5) Mike Wright RHP
A polished right-handed starter, Wright owns a strong 4-pitch arsenal consisting of an above-average fastball, and average-ish curveball, slider, and changeup. Wright has good command of the strike zone, and while he does not project as a star, he should be a durable #4 starter for many years.
4) Eduardo Rodriguez LHP
An athletic left-handed pitcher with command of a promising 3-pitch mix, Rodriguez possesses an above-average 91-94mph fastball, a devastating changeup with sinking action, and an average, but inconsistent, slider. One of my favorite prospects currently in the minors, I expect Rodriguez to have a lengthy, impressive career as a #3 starter.
3) Hunter Harvey RHP
The son of former major league pitcher Bryan Harvey, Hunter was the Orioles 1st round choice, 22nd overall, in 2013. After some minor adjustments to his motion last summer, Harvey now features a 91-95mph fastball, an above-average curveball that shows plus potential, along with an inconsistent but promising changeup. With additional polish and improved command, Harvey has the potential to be a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher in a few years.
2) Dylan Bundy RHP
The near-consensus top pitching prospect in the minor leagues in 2012, Bundy lost most of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in June. Before surgery, Bundy possessed a 94-97mph fastball, a monster cut-fastball, an above-average curveball and above-average changeup, along with excellent command of the strike zone. Assuming he returns to full health, Bundy has the potential to be one of the best pitchers in baseball in the future.
1) Kevin Gausman RHP
The Orioles 1st round choice, 4th overall, in 2012, Gausman features a monster 94-98mph fastball, a devastating changeup with splitter movement, and a below-average but promising slider. If he can develop his slider and improve his command of the strike zone, Gausman could develop into a future #1 or #2 starter. The question of who is better, Bundy or Gausman, will exist with fans much of the rest of the decade, as they have the potential to form one of the best starting pitching combinations in baseball.