by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
To an extent the Baltimore Orioles system is lackluster, thanks to the seemingly endless injuries plaguing their top tier pitching prospects. However, as you look down this list there is certainly some potential impact, some of which could arrive in short order. Who are the top names to know? Let’s take a look:
1) Cody Sedlock – Right-Handed Pitcher
ETA – 2018
Grade – B+
The team’s first round pick this past year, he only tossed 27.0 innings in the minors this season and it will be interesting to see how quickly the team builds up his workload after operating as a reliever in college early in his career. The big question that came about in his first taste of professional baseball is his control (13 BB), as he demonstrated strikeouts (25) and groundball stuff (2.00 GO/AO). Obviously it was an extremely small sample size, though as we said that’s part of the problem.
He has the repertoire and size (6’3”) to make it as a starter, though there are obvious questions (and that doesn’t even mention the team’s history of injuries among their starting pitcher prospects).
2) Chance Sisco – Catcher
ETA – 2017
Grade – B+
The heir apparent to Matt Wieters continued his development, seeing time at Triple-A for the first time. He spent the bulk of ’16 at Double-A, hitting an impressive .320, though with little power (4 HR). That said, given his approach/plate discipline all he needs to do is mature into a 10-12 HR hitter to entrench himself among the top half of the catching spectrum. A minor league career .323 hitter, in 563 PA at Double-A he has 97 K vs. 68 BB (17.3% strikeout rate, 12.3% walk rate at the level in ’16).
At 6’2” and just 21-years old (he’ll turn 22 before the start of the 2017 campaign), the potential is there for him to add a little bit more power. Keep in mind, among catchers with at least 300 PA in ’16 the best OBP was .377 (Francisco Cervelli). Sisco owns a minor league career .402 mark, including a .403 in ’16.
He’s a different type of catcher, but that doesn’t make him a bad one. Look for him to continue developing at Triple-A to open the season, but he should make his MLB debut at some point in ’17.
3) Ryan Mountcastle – Shortstop
ETA – 2018
Grade – B
He has some obvious development to do, though moving to Single-A he showed an improvement in his strikeout rate (19.4%). That’s extremely important for the 19-year old, as he certainly still has plenty of time to develop. While he only hit 10 HR this season, he added 28 doubles and 4 triples to show that there’s a little bit more upside (and something that should develop over time). He does need to do a better job of drawing walks (only 4 BB over 246 AB after the All-Star Break), and does need to continue to maintain the improved strikeout rate. Still, the potential is there for him to develop into a 20ish HR hitting middle infielder.
4) Keegan Akin – Left-Handed Pitcher
ETA – 2018
Grade – B-
A second round pick in 2016, Akin pitched 26.0 impressive innings (1.04 ERA) with 29 K vs. 7 BB. There isn’t currently a question as to his role, as he’s fully expected to stick as a starter (despite standing at 6’0”). He throws hard and has multiple quality secondary offerings, just adding to the appeal. Sure we’d love to see a few more groundballs (1.00 GO/AO), but with his stuff and control there’s an awful lot to like in regards to his potential moving forward.
5) Trey Mancini – First Baseman
ETA – Already Arrived
Grade – B-
He arrived in September of ’16 and gave a glimpse of what could be possible moving forward by launching 3 HR over 14 AB. Between Double and Triple-A he hit .282 with 20 HR (as well as 26 doubles and 5 triples), though he did see his strikeout rate rise (22.9%) while at Triple-A. That’s going to be something that needs to be monitored, because while there is some power it’s unlikely he develops into a 30+ HR threat. Instead he’ll likely be a consistent 20-25 type home run hitter, so he needs to keep his strikeouts in check in order to be able to post a viable average. It’s possible he operates more as a platoon player (which is how he was deployed late in the year), though he deserves an opportunity to be more than that.
The Next Five:
6) Tanner Scott – Left-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C+)
This is a bit aggressive, and we’d love to rank the hard throwing southpaw even higher, but there’s a very good chance he develops into a lights out reliever. All he needs to do is find decent control (57 BB in 64.1 IP) and some semblance of a secondary offering. With his strikeout stuff (81 K) and ability to generate groundballs (1.69 GO/AO) he belongs on radars.
7) D.J. Stewart – Outfielder (Grade – C+)
8) Jomar Reyes – Third Baseman (Grade – C)
There’s upside, but 102 K over 464 AB and only 10 HR in High-A has got to sour the outlook a little bit.
9) Chris Lee – Left-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C)
10) Brian Gonzalez – Left-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C)
Hunter Harvey – Right-Handed Pitcher
Baltimore pitching prospects continue to be plagued by injury, and despite the upside Harvey will now have to try and work his way back from Tommy John surgery. It’s possible he loses all of 2017, after missing all of 2015 (strained right elbow) and throwing just 12.2 innings in 2016. That means he could miss virtually three consecutive seasons, making us wonder exactly what upside he’ll have when he finally does return to the mound. We don’t want to write him off, but at this point it’s also impossible to expect much production from him.
Grade A – Elite Prospects (aka potential future perennial All-Stars)
Grade B – Above Average Prospects (aka above average Major Leaguers, could develop into a potential All-Star)
Grade C – Average Prospects (aka solid, though unspectacular)
Grade D – Nothing More Than Roster Filler
Grade F – Move On
Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Prospect Rankings: