Here is a fair question that some of the Orioles’ prospects in the higher minor leagues might be asking these days: How much of a chance will I get in the next year or two with the Orioles?
Pitchers wondering that could include Tim Bascom, Steve Johnson, Oliver Drake, Cole McCurry, Chris Tillman and Sean Gleason.
Position players asking that could include Ryan Adams, Matt Angle, Josh Bell, Brandon Snyder, Kyle Hudson, Tyler Henson, Xavier Avery, Caleb Joseph, Joe Mahoney, Xavier Avery and LJ Hoes, to name just a few.
Take Adams, for instance. Last year, he got 89 at-bats with the Orioles, but they have Brian Roberts at second base (if healthy), and Robert Andino, as well. Recently, they acquired Matt Antonelli, who has played second, and agreed to terms with six-year minor league free agent Steve Tolleson, who can play there. Adams can look around and see second base candidates all over the place.
Those prospects probably realize that manager Buck Showalter and new executive vice president Dan Duquette have no loyalties to some of these long-time and/or homegrown minor league Orioles. They just want players to help the team win and if they feel outside acquisitions are better than what is already on the farm, they’ll likely bypass an O’s farmhand.
Toward the end of last season, the Orioles added pitchers Willie Eyre, Zach Phillips, Jo-Jo Reyes and Pedro Strop, all of whom got big league time ahead of those other pitchers I mentioned above.
The Orioles’ farm system gets plenty of criticism and it appears that some of the players I mentioned earlier are going to have to prove to Showalter and Duquette that they deserve a chance and are going to have to prove they are better than the likes of Antonelli, Phillips, Eyre and Strop, who seemed to have passed them, at least for now, in the pecking order. Not to mention Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter from the Koji Uehara trade.
Meanwhile, from the it’s-a-small-world department, new Orioles catcher Taylor Teagarden was drafted twice by current members of the O’s organization.
In 2002, he was a 22nd-round pick by the Cubs out of high school, but didn’t sign and went to the University of Texas. The Cubs’ scouting director then, John Stockstill, is the O’s current director of player development.
In 2005, he was taken in the third round by Texas. The Rangers scouting director then, Ron Hopkins, is on the Orioles’ amateur scouting staff now as a national crosschecker.
By the way, the Orioles parted with a pitcher they regarded pretty well in that deal in 21-year-old right-hander Randy Henry, the club’s fourth-round pick in 2009.
This past season, Henry went 4-3 with a 2.22 ERA in 29 games between Single-A Delmarva and Single-A Frederick. Henry had Tommy John surgery as a high school senior in Arnett, Okla., and this past season was just realizing his potential.
His fastball ranged from 89-94 mph and he was improving both his slider and changeup. After a setback from the Tommy John procedure, Henry was limited to just 23 innings in 2010 and 52 2/3 this past season.
He did finish last year healthy and would have probably started 2012 back at Frederick with a good chance to move to Double-A Bowie before the end of the year.
I was told the Orioles and Rangers discussed at least 10 names before the Rangers settled on Henry. In this deal, the Orioles got something they needed now in exchange for someone with future potential.