Jim Callis on the Orioles’ farm system

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - If you want to talk about prospects and a club’s minor league system, who better to seek out than Jim Callis?

During our now annual Winter Meetings video interview, Jim took some time to talk about the O’s organization.

By the way after many years with Baseball America, you can now catch Callis’ reports and analysis at MLB.com and MLBPipeline.com.

I asked Callis where the Orioles farm system ranks right now in baseball.

“Probably middle of the pack,” he said. “What really stands out for the Orioles, even though (Dylan Bundy) is coming back from Tommy John surgery, with Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, you have two frontline, big-time starting pitchers. They are very few teams that have two guys like that even though Dylan has to come back from the injury.

“You have Eduardo Rodriguez - he is one of better left-handed prospects in the game. You have Jonathan Schoop. You have Hunter Harvey out of this year’s draft. After that, the depth starts to fall off, certainly from the top. They are still building depth for the system but the top looks pretty good.

“For most years when we talked here, they were not contending. Now they have a good major league team and some blue-chip prospects in the system. It’s a much better combination to have that going.”

We discussed the O’s player development system and recent draft classes with Dan Duquette heading up the club’s baseball operations, Brian Graham as director of player development and Gary Rajsich as scouting director.

“The one thing they have shown is they are not locked into a specific type of player,” Callis said. “Last year, they started the draft with two college pitchers in Gausman and Branden Kline. This year, they took two high schools kids, Hunter Harvey and Josh Hart. I like that.

“There are so few really good players in the draft, you can’t eliminate a specific demographic. I think their first two draft classes look promising. To be honest, most draft classes will look promising within a year or two of the draft. They haven’t had a chance to fail, but they got some good players. I think the farm system looks like it’s trending up.”

Harvey, the club’s top pick in 2013 who turned 19 Monday, went 0-1 with a 1.78 ERA over 25 1/3 innings this past season between the Gulf Coast League Orioles and short-season Single-A Aberdeen. Harvey walked six and fanned 33 batters.

What should be expected of Harvey next season?

“My guess is Hunter will throw 80 to 100 innings, probably not higher than low Class A. I think they will take it slow with Hunter, like most teams do with early-round high school pitchers,” Callis said.

“The difference with Bundy was most people considered him the equivalent of a college pitcher; that is how advanced he was. You usually break these guys in slowly and he may need a full three seasons in the minors. I don’t think he is a guy that will be doing much in Baltimore before maybe the end of 2016 or 2017.”

Thanks to Jim for today’s interview and I look forward to following his work at MLBPipeline.com

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