Earlier this week I ranked the Top-11 prospects currently in the Baltimore Orioles’ farm system. During my analysis of the Orioles’ minor leagues, I was struck by the depth in the organization, as by reputation Baltimore has one of the weaker systems in baseball. In fact, there are several prospects, perhaps described as a “sleepers” that are worthy of acknowledgement. These are four names outside Baltimore’s top-15 prospects that could breakout this season.
Garrett Cleavinger LHP
Drafted by the Orioles in the 3rd round in 2015, Cleavinger is someone who does not receive enough attention within Baltimore’s system. Cleavinger features a 90-93mph fastball with some late movement, along with an upper-70s curveball with hard 12-6 downward break. The almost 23-year-old lefty is a stocky 6-1 210lbs with little physical projection remaining. His lack of a third pitch limits his ceiling, but he does have the potential for two above-average offerings. Cleavinger should begin 2017 in Double-A Bowie and profiles as a future 7th inning lefty reliever.
Grey Fenter RHP
Baltimore’s 7th round pick in 2015, Fenter received a $1 million bonus to spurn pitching for Mississippi State and turn professional. Fenter missed the entire 2016 season after injuring his elbow and undergoing Tommy John surgery last spring. Prior to the injury, Fenter featured a 90-94mph fastball that touched 96mph, along with a powerful curveball and nascent changeup. The 21-year-old will likely be handled carefully this season in his first year post-surgery, but if his stuff re-emerges, he should skyrocket up the Orioles’ rankings this summer.
Cedric Mullins OF
Quietly drafted in the 13th round from Campbell, the switch-hitting Mullins punished Low-A pitching last summer with a .273/.321/.464 with 61 extra base hits and 30 stolen bases. The 22-year-old possesses plus speed and a solid throwing arm, making him a solid defender in center field. Mullins has quality bat speed from both sides of the plate, and shows more power than one might expect from a 5-8 175lbs. athlete. He does have some swing-and-miss in his game and does not walk at a high rate, so he will need to continue to barrel the baseball as he climbs through the farm system. His size and draft pedigree will keep his prospect profile low, but another season of quality production at High-A this summer will force his reputation to soar.
Alex Wells LHP
Signed as an international free agent in August 2015 from Australia, Wells was extremely impressive in his first professional season, throwing 62.2 innings at Short Season Aberdeen. Wells posted a 2.15 ERA for the Ironbirds, allowing 48 hits and only 9 walks against 50 strikeouts. Wells possesses a raw but interesting 3-pitch arsenal, featuring an 88-90mph fastball he can locate for strikes, an inconsistent curveball and a devastating changeup. He has some deception in his delivery which helps his stuff play up, but his mediocre breaking ball hurts his ability to generate strikeouts. If he can improve his curveball and/or add some fastball velocity, he profiles as a potential back-end major league starter.