When Baseball America released its much anticipated annual list of the top 100 prospects in the game today, the Orioles had two players listed among the top 11 and three in the top 82.
Pitcher Dylan Bundy was ranked No. 10, shortstop Manny Machado No. 11 and infielder Jonathan Schoop No. 82. While 13 teams had more players on the list than the three Orioles, Texas is the only other organization with two players listed among the top 11 and one is Yu Darvish.
The rankings are a composite list of the ratings of eight Baseball America reporters and editors as each ranks his own top 150 to compile the top 100. No other Orioles prospect came close to making the top 100. Pitcher Parker Bridwell was listed among the top 150 on one of the eight editors’ rankings.
Here is Jim Callis of Baseball America with his take on Bundy and his ranking:
“I had Bundy one spot ahead of Trevor Bauer. I thought Bundy was the best pitcher in last year’s draft which was a loaded pitching draft and I would take him over any of the top college pitchers at the top. In our vote, he came in one spot behind Bauer. Just for comparison sake he came in two spots ahead of (Gerrit) Cole, 11 spots ahead of Danny Hultzen and 15 spots ahead of Archie Bradley.
“I don’t think it’s too often we have a high school pitcher that comes out of a draft one year and ranks in the top 10 prospects in baseball the next year. Jameson Taillon did rank 11th last year and I would take Bundy over him. This is a testament to what a special prospect Dylan Bundy is.”
Callis feels the Orioles plan that reportedly calls for Bundy to pitch around 120 innings during this his first pro season, is a good one.
“I just see the Orioles immediate future as bleak and there is no reason to rush him from either a competitive or financial standpoint. He’s not going to be the difference in 2013 or 2014. I do think Bundy will get there ridiculously quick anyway.
“One thing we can forget about any pitcher - whether it’s high school or even Yu Darvish - you don’t pitch every fifth day except in pro ball. That is a big adjustment and one reason why you see guys have better stuff as amateurs. Pro ball takes a toll on them. He’ll never have pitched this many innings against this competitive of hitters before, so 120 innings make a lot of sense.
“Even if he spends a whole year in Low-A and pitches 120 innings and stays there the entire season, would it shock me if Bundy rockets from High-A to the verge of the majors in 2013? No, it wouldn’t. This is a kind of a get him acclimated kind of year and he can rush to the majors, like I think he is going to, after that.”
Machado, who will not turn 20 until July 6, played in 101 games last year between Single-A Delmarva and Single-A Frederick. He hit .257 with 20 doubles, five triples, 11 homers, 50 RBIs and a .756 OPS.
After last season he was rated by Baseball America as the No. 1 prospect in the Carolina League and No. 2 in the South Atlantic League.
“I think ranking him 11th tells you we think very highly of him. It doesn’t surprise me and he would have been in the top 10 if it weren’t for a very strong draft (last June),” Callis said.
“I thought he had a good first (full) year. I thought the promotion to High-A was aggressive, especially coming off an injury like he had. I talked to guys that saw him in the South Atlantic League early in the year that thought he was more impressive than Bryce Harper.
“I think he is average or better and mostly better, in every tool. The only real question with him is he is 6-foot-3 and when he fills out will he have the range to stay at shortstop? Even if he can’t I think you are still looking at a superstar at third base. He hasn’t given any indication that he’ll have to move. You just don’t see shortstops like that very often.
“We list (shortstop) Jurickson Profar at No. 7 and the only reason I give him an edge on Manny is I think he is more likely to stay at shortstop. I think Machado did everything you could have expected from him (last year). He could open this season at Double-A and if he stays fully healthy this year we could see him hit .300 with 20 homers and that wouldn’t shock me at all.”
Callis feels certain Machado will be in Double-A at some point during this season.
“He is such a gifted player. They could sit down there and say ‘OK, we don’t want to rush this kid.’ If you put him back in the Carolina League, I think he’s going to tear it up and be there (Bowie) by midseason. It wouldn’t surprise me that he was so impressive in spring training that they just put him in Double-A,” he said.
“It might make sense to put Machado at Double-A and Schoop in High-A so they both could play shortstop on a regular basis and you get a better feel whether they both could stay at the position long term, even though I think Machado may outgrow the position and Schoop may wind up at second base.”
Schoop, who turned 20 last October, was signed by the Orioles out of Curacao in August of 2008. He hit .290 with 24 doubles, five triples, 13 homers and a .781 OPS in 51 games with Delmarva in 2011 and 77 games with Frederick after his promotion in early June.
“Another teenager who played very well at both A levels,” Callis said. “I think the bat stands out for me a little bit more than the defense. I think he has the arm to play anywhere in the infield, I just don’t know if he has the quickness and true range to play (in the future at) shortstop.
“Unfortunately for Jonathan he is in the same organization as Manny so the two get compared. He is a tick behind Manny as a hitter and I don’t think he will hit for quite the same average and not quite as much power. He’s a very talented middle infielder who handled High-A at age 19 and there are not a lot of guys who can do that.
“I think the key thing is, I would try to find a way for Schoop to play shortstop regularly for at least the first half of this season. If you find he is not going to stay there, I would try to find the position he is going to be at, so he can stay at one position and that could help the bat develop too.
“Like any young guy, he has to do a little better at pitch recognition and plate discipline. That comes with experience. There is no glaring red flag with him, he just needs development time.”
The Orioles farm system was rated 20th in MLB by Baseball America in its Prospect Handbook. Callis believes the Orioles could drop to 21st behind Oakland when BA releases its updated organization rankings later. He said the Orioles would rate closer to the bottom of the list were it not for having two players so highly rated as Bundy and Machado.
The Orioles had two players in MLB.com’s top 100:
6 - Machado
10 - Bundy
The Orioles had three players in Keith Law’s top 100:
4 - Machado
11 - Bundy
56 - Schoop
The Orioles had three players in the Baseball Prospectus top 100:
6 - Bundy
8 - Machado
85 - Schoop