Baseball America started to roll out its latest top 10 prospects lists for major league teams this week. Before too long, we’ll see a new Orioles list. But today, I’m taking my own shot at a top 10 list for the club.
These are my own thoughts and rankings, and for this one, I didn’t solicit a single opinion from a scout or team official to get their take on my list. It is just one man’s list and when it comes to ranking prospects, there is no right or wrong, just a lot of opinions.
Keep in mind when it comes to ranking prospects, several factors can be at work. Age is a consideration and the younger the better. A player with good offensive stats that can capably play a premium defensive position like catcher or shortstop is very valued. With pitchers, starters have more value than relievers. Some prefer projection over production. In other words, they are projecting what the players can be in a couple of years and are not enamored with a player’s currents stats and they won’t drop a prospect too far down their list if he is not tearing it up right now. Velocity is very valued for pitchers, we just can’t deny that. Some would say valued too much, but valued heavily for sure.
Also keep in mind that any player that retains rookie eligibility is still ranked on prospects lists.
So without further ado ...
1) Austin Hays: He is the clear new No. 1, passing Chance Sisco, who did nothing wrong to fall. But Hays showed a power/speed combo that was impressive and played solid defense to boot with a strong arm. He put up terrific stats at Single-A Frederick and did the same at Double-A Bowie. He joined the Orioles and was not intimidated in the least. He’s the best they have right now. The only question is: Will the Orioles turn over right field to him to begin the 2018 season or will he start the season on the farm?
2) Chance Sisco: His .267 average at Triple-A Norfolk was very un-Sisco like. But we have to understand he was one of the youngest players in the International League and that is a tough park in which to hit. Some pop began to emerge late in the year and he hit two homers with the Orioles. His defense made more gains this year, but some continue to question that part of his game. He could begin 2018 in the bigs.
3) Ryan Mountcastle: You could make a solid case to rank him No. 2. His bat was so dominant in the Carolina League that he led the league with 51 extra-base hits even though he played just 88 games for Frederick. He moved to Double-A and began to warm up to Eastern League pitching at the end of the year. His defense and throwing at third base played better than it had at short.
4) Hunter Harvey: If healthy - and he now is - Harvey is a top 100 prospect in my opinion. His stuff seemed to come back pretty fast after the Tommy John surgery. He could and should move fast next year and some think and perhaps even expect that he will pitch at some point for the Orioles in 2018.
5) DL Hall: Don’t let his ERA of 6.97 in five Gulf Coast League games fool you. Hall is a top talent and the Orioles selected the high school lefty with the 21st pick in the first round last June. Then he gave up nine runs (eight earned) in 10 1/3 innings in the GCL in a brief pro debut. Baseball America ranked Hall No. 16 in its pre-draft ranking of the best available players and MLBPipeline.com’s Jim Callis said the Orioles “got a steal at 21.” Hall, who signed a $3 million signing bonus, throws a fastball that can sit between 92 and 95 mph, touching 96. He has a curveball that scouts rate as a plus pitch.
6) Cedric Mullins: Hamstring issues limited him to 76 games, but Mullins proved the Orioles correct when they decided to skip him past Frederick. He played at Single-A Delmarva in 2016 and then moved right to Bowie and put up a similar slash line. The defense was real good. He’s a switch-hitter and he hit a spring training opposite field homer off Craig Kimbrel. What is not to like here?
7) Tanner Scott: The improvement with his slider this season was huge. It has become what can be a real swing-and-miss pitch and perfect complement to the fastball that can touch 100 mph. The Orioles have not ruled out the possibility he could start in the future, although late-inning reliever still seems more likely.
8) Cody Sedlock: He will drop down a few spots on these lists after pitching to a 5.90 ERA for Frederick. Skipping him a level didn’t go as well as it did for Hays and Mullins. He is going to have to prove next season that the right forearm strain that ended his 2017 season has not lingered.
9) Anthony Santander: The Rule 5 pick will probably begin 2018 in the majors. He looked fine in a few at-bats in September and there is some pop in the bat. We don’t yet know if he could handle a corner outfield spot defensively, but in a very small sample, we saw nothing to rule that out either in September.
10) Alexander Wells: The Aussie left-hander sure scores high in the production part but less in the projection. Without the big fastball, he is simply going to have to prove he can do it at each level as he moves up. But he sure proved it with Delmarva, showing some of the best control seen anywhere in pro ball this summer.
That is a pretty solid list of 10 players and we left several good players off this list. What is your take on the organization’s top prospects?