Five of the six of what I would consider the major national prospect lists are out with the release of the Baseball America top 100 prospect list last night. The lone straggler is John Sickels (minorleagueball.com) whose list has been delayed a bit this year due to health issues. With no ETA on that particular list, I am going to go ahead and put up how the Orioles fared on the five other lists from both an individual and combined standpoint.
First, here are the five lists we are looking at:
Three Orioles prospects appeared on all five of the lists. Two only appeared on three out of the five lists. Helpfully, Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com inquired about where Hunter Harvey and Jonathan Schoop placed in the overall voting on the Baseball America list. Jon Manuel – the editor of that particular list – provided the exact placement of those two players so I used their exact number placement to arrive at the combined placement. The exact placement of Harvey and Schoop outside the Top 100 on MLB’s list is a bit more of a mystery. To be conservative, I placed both players at #120 on that list, which is about ten spots back from their lowest placement on any other list.
Here is the table listing the placement of the five O’s prospects on the various lists. The final column takes their average placement to come up with a consensus ranking.
A few thoughts:
1. Dylan Bundy wins the battle with Kevin Gausman for highest ranked Oriole. Keith Law and Baseball Prospectus are the two dissenters. Since Law had a wide margin between the two on his list (8 spaces) and BP gave Gausman the highest rank for either pitcher on any list (10th), that helped Gausman finish just two spots behind Bundy on the composite list.
2. Bundy probably should be ahead of Gausman on both the organizational and Top 100 lists, as he is generally is. He was considered the better prospect before his injury and given the success rate of Tommy John surgery there is no need to adjust that opinion quite yet. What is interesting, however, is that the lists penalized Bundy for his inactivity (he moved from a consensus Top 5 in 2013 to the 20-range this year) while Gausman generally moved up a few pegs from 2013 despite some growing pains at the Major League level. Often the guy that hasn’t struggled in the majors yet gets the benefit of the doubt over the guy that has, but that was not necessarily the case with Bundy and Gausman.
3. Eduardo Rodriguez is a clear-cut top 70 prospect entering the 2014 season. A couple of evaluators (Law and Hulet) see him much higher than that. E-Rod was outstanding in his age 20 season in 2013, taking the leap from “guy to watch” to “legitimate top prospect”. I am not sure if he is cemented in the top 100, but he is probably pretty close. Unless 2014 is a disaster for him – and there is nothing to indicate anything like that occurring – his age and track record probably keeps him on the list heading into 2015. If he builds off his strong finish at Bowie with a good half of a season there before heading to Norfolk, then it would not shock me to see him somewhere in the top 30 next season.
4. Keith Law was the most bullish of the list-makers when it comes to Orioles prospects. Law placed four prospects in his top 43. Law gave Harvey his highest ranking by far (#38 on Law’s list with the next highest ranking being #58 by BP). I tend to trust Law’s player evaluations as much as anyone else’s, so I take that has a good sign.
5. Schoop is a fringe top-100 guy right now. There is only one way that I see Schoop being on any lists next season. If he hits well at Norfolk but Ryan Flaherty (and/or others) hold down the 2B job in Baltimore, he probably still gets promoted at some point but might not accumulate enough at bats at the MLB level to lose his prospect status. Otherwise, he either doesn’t hit enough at Norfolk and is out of the Top 100 for that reason OR he hits well enough, gets promoted to the Big Leagues, and losses his prospect status. The latter two options seem more likely to me than the former.
6. The ETA on Gausman, Bundy, and Schoop is 2014/beginning of 2015 at the latest. E-Rod is likely a 2015 arrival. That means four top 100 prospects will be arriving in the next season and a half, give or take. Not all of them will be good right away and there is a strong chance that at least one or two fails to ever reach their potential. Nonetheless, the near-Major League readiness of some of those four is a big reason why the Orioles’ window for contention might not shut as quickly as some believe it will.