Q&A with the author of the O’s top 10 prospects list

For more than 10 years, Will Lingo of Baseball America put together the Orioles top 10 prospects list. But this year, those duties were turned over to Matt Forman.

Last week he released this list of the Orioles top 10 prospects:
1 - P Dylan Bundy
2 - P Kevin Gausman
3 - IF Jonathan Schoop
4 - IF Nicky Delmonico
5 - P Eduardo Rodriguez
6 - OF LJ Hoes
7 - OF Xavier Avery
8 - P Mike Wright
9 - P Branden Kline
10 - IF Adrian Marin

Recently, I interviewed Forman about this top 10 list. In this entry we talked about his take on Bundy and Gausman.

Based in Baltimore, Forman got several in-person looks at O’s farmhands this year with games at short-season Single-A Aberdeen, Single-A Delmarva, Single-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie. Here are more questions and answers from Forman about the list.

Q: How did you put this top 10 list together?

“We start with a thorough researching process to get a grasp of everyone in the system. Having in-person looks at some players goes a long way, but there is no substitute for talking to scouts and front office staff about specific players and the system at large.

“We generally speak to all of the high-ranking front office personnel you would expect from director of player personnel to scouting director, hitting coordinator, pitching coordinator and various others.

“From there, we move on to cross-checking the list with folks from outside the organization. In my case, I talked to five people from outside the organization to cross-check this list. It’s a pretty thorough look at the organization and prospects. We also have use of the mid-season top 50 Baseball America list, as well as the end-of-season league top 20s.”

Q: The people you talked to from outside the organization, is that mostly scouts?

“That is a combination of scouts and front office executives on the assistant general manager level. We also talk to some managers who may have seen instructional league from other teams to get their perspective.

“The list is really a balance of statistics and tools and and it’s an evaluation of the long-term major league potential of the player and the likelihood the player will reach that potential.”

Q: What surprises did you find?

“There are always some surprises. I did expect Bundy and Gausman to be one-two. The three and four spots with Jonathan Schoop and Nick Delmonico were also kind of anticipated.

“I think the names in the top 10 would not surprise anybody. Perhaps the guy that made the biggest jump in the organization this year is Eduardo Rodriguez. If Bundy and Gausman reach the majors in 2013 and exhaust their prospect eligibility, Rodriguez might be the No. 1 guy in the system next year.

“Outside of the top 10, the No. 1 surprise was Josh Hader. He was the 19th-round pick, a tall lanky lefty that sat in the low to mid-80s throughout the spring. Once he got in the system, he gained some weight, straightened out his delivery and was put on a long-tossing program and the results were immediately impressive as his velocity jumped to the low 90s.

“He kind of has a low three-quarters arm action that evokes some comparisons to Chris Sale. Not in terms of stuff, but body type and delivery. When you hear that comparison, you get excited.

“Jason Esposito didn’t have the year some expected of him being a high-round pick, so he dropped down the list quite a bit. Parker Bridwell, a top 10 guy a year ago, also dropped down the list but there is reason for excitement in Bridwell’s case.”

Q: Can you mention any names about players that just missed out on on the top 10?

“The guys that just missed out would include Tim Berry, a lefty pitcher and 50th-round pick in 2009. He has kind of been on the radar for a bit and reached Double-A this year. Scouts like his frame and velocity from the left side as well as his ability to spin a breaking ball.

“A guy who once was No. 10 on this list was Glynn Davis, but he actually dropped down in favor of Adrian Marin. Glynn is a guy who can run and throw. His speed is top of the scale on the 20-80 scouting scale. He can flat-out fly. Little bit of a singles hitter at this point and scouts want to see him grow into his body and bulk out and show some gap-to-gap power which would really help him progress.

He’s an exciting guy because of the speed and ground he can cover in center field and havoc he can cause on the bases. If he does bulk up to gain power, you have to wonder if that would slow him down a bit. But right now he has game-changing speed. At this point you might project him as a fourth outfielder, but there is a chance for more.

“Two other international signings, Tsuyoshi Wada and Henry Urrutia, are also right in that conversation on the fringe of the top 10. You don’t really know what you get from that pair until they are in the system, healthy and playing games.

“I would also put, rounding out the top 15 would be Christian Walker, the 2012 fourth-round pick from South Carolina. He played in three consecutive College World Series. He has tremendous bat to ball ability that impresses scouts.

“He was dinged up in instructional league with a lower back injury and so he was slowed some. But the amateur reports we have on him indicate he might be an overachiever type and his bat could really carry him. He’s probably limited to first base as his position. A comparison that was offered was Kevin Millar and Steve Pearce.”

Q: What opinions did you hear about Urrutia?

“I defer to Ben Badler, Baseball America’s international guru. Sounds like he had a fourth outfielder-type profile. You weren’t sure how much he could contribute in the power department and how that translates to corner outfield production. But not being in the States makes it hard to fully analyze him.

“He’s a switch-hitting outfielder with good hit ability and maybe some fringe-average power. Makes consistent contact from both sides. We think he will be a corner outfielder and just wonder if the power translates to an everyday guy and how it all fits. He’s an older guy that should be at Double-A and Triple-A and maybe somewhat impact the Orioles quickly.”

Q: What is your guess on where the Oriole’ top two prospects will rank in the next Baseball America top 100 prospects list due out sometime in February? Will the Orioles get a third or fourth player in the top 100?

“I have contributed to our top 100 the last two years. It is my expectation that Dylan Bundy will be in the top five. If I were ranking right now, he’d be No. 2 only behind Jurickson Profar. Bundy was No. 1 ahead of Profar at the mid-season ranking. Reminds of when we had Matt Wieters and David Price competing for one and two. I have Bundy as the top pitching prospect in all of baseball.

“I would have Gausman in the 20-to-25 range. There are a lot of good right-handers in the game right now, it’s a deep list. With the rest of the top 100, it’s a tough call. Jonathan Schoop would make my list in the back end, maybe the last 15 to 20 spots. There are questions about the consistency of his approach and his hit tool.

“I don’t think Delmonico would make it. He would be probably in the 100 to 125 range for me, closely followed by Eduardo Rodriguez and it wouldn’t surprise me if he made the top 100 next year.”

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