Stop me if you have heard this one before: In recent years the Orioles have been compiling a decent list of pitching prospects. Since young pitching is very coveted in the sport, the Orioles are simply trying to do what everyone is doing and develop young pitchers to help their major league roster.
But most O’s fans can tell you how difficult that job can be. They’ve seen many an O’s pitching prospect either get hurt, not live up to the hype or not help the major league club to the extent they were expected to.
We all know that many pitching prospects don’t make it, but that doesn’t mean you stop trying to develop them and the pursuit seems to be never ending.
When Baseball America released its list of the Orioles top 10 prospects earlier this month, the top four - along with five of the first six and six of the top eight - were pitchers.
So far, Baseball America has released top 10 lists for the entire National League and the American League East, and only the San Francisco Giants can match the Orioles. They also have pitchers as their top four prospects and have six in the first eight. In the AL East, Tampa Bay has pitchers as four of its first five prospects and Toronto has pitchers for five of its top eight. Boston has three pitchers among its top eight and New York has pitchers for just one of its first eight.
Dylan Bundy was ranked first among the O’s prospects followed by Kevin Gausman, Eduardo Rodriguez and Hunter Harvey. Tim Berry was sixth and Mike Wright eighth.
The other side of that of course is that the O’s have few top position player prospects. Jonathan Schoop, their highest rated position prospect, will likely not make the top 100 this year. But the top four pitchers may all make the top 100 and that would be an accomplishment because they got there on their own merits and it has nothing to do with the club’s lack of position player depth.
I recently asked Baseball America’s John Manuel which Oriole could make Baseball America’s top 100 when the latest list is released in February or early March.
“The top two guys (Bundy, Gausman) are, at the very least, in the top 30 to 35,” Manuel said. “We don’t speak with one voice here and a lot of people will be involved in that decision. Some will grade Bundy down for the injury, but the track record of Tommy John guys is very strong.
“Eduardo Rodriguez is a top 75 guy for me. He is close to big league ready and that helps. For me, Harvey is a back of 100 guy, maybe 75 to 100. That is often where high school pitchers just drafted with a lot of upside fall.”
From 2011 to 2013 the O’s had a total of four pitchers listed in those three top 100s and Bundy was listed twice. So four is an upgrade and hopefully bodes well down the road for the Orioles.
Also, the O’s have not had four players listed in the BA top 100 since 2010. Here are the O’s listing the last five years:
2009: 1, Matt Wieters; 22, Chris Tillman; 25, Brian Matusz; 67, Jake Arrieta.
2010: 5, Brian Matusz; 37, Josh Bell; 63, Zach Britton; 99, Jake Arrieta.
2011: 14, Manny Machado 28, Zach Britton.
2012: 10, Dylan Bundy; 11, Manny Machado; 82, Jonathan Schoop.
2013: 2, Dylan Bundy; 26, Kevin Gausman.
Having four in the top 100, if that turns out to be the case, is a good number for the Orioles. Even though we know prospects are no guarantee, every player that has made that top 100 list for the last five years made the majors and some have been All-Stars.
The Orioles are here again. They’ve got another nice list of pitching prospects. Now we wait to find out how many can help the club, how good they will be and if the current group of pitchers will have more collective success than the last group.