Even though he has only played nine pro games, Orioles shortstop prospect Manny Machado has been rated as the game's 14th-best prospect by Baseball America.
O's lefty pitching prospect Zach Britton was rated 28th by Baseball America, which today is releasing its latest top 100 prospects list.
Earlier, Britton was rated 11th by ESPN's Keith Law and 19th by MLB.com. Machado was ranked 24th by MLB.com and 26th by ESPN's Law.
No other O's prospects came close to making Baseball America's top 100, which is selected by a vote of six of the publication's editors. Each lists his top 150 prospects in order and the top 100 is a compilation of that. One of the six editors did list outfielder Xavier Avery as baseball's 149th best prospect.
There were 193 players that got votes from the six Baseball America editors.
Machado, who will not turn 19 until July 6, was the third overall pick in last June's draft and the O's then signed him to a $5.25 million bonus. In nine games late last summer, two with the Gulf Coast team and seven with Short Season Single-A Aberdeen, he batted .306 with one homer, five RBI and an .831 OPS.
Baseball America executive editor Jim Callis said it was impressive for Machado to be rated so highly even before he played a full year in the minors.
"Definitely. We sometimes hear that we jump on the bandwagon or put too much faith in young players, but who is a better shortstop prospect in the minor leagues right now? I don't even think it's close," Callis said.
"He is the only five-tool shortstop I can think of. Almost any shortstop prospect is either a really good defensive guy and you don't know if he'll hit or a offensive guy that won't stay at the position. He's both. You are talking a .290, .300 hitter with at least average power playing a quality shortstop. Those guys are All-Stars," he added.
"I recently looked for one of my ask BA columns. Last year, there were six shortstops in the big leagues who hit .275 with 10 homers. Of those six, only three even had a .750 OPS and that was (Troy) Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez and Stephen Drew. He's young, but you look at the tools and that ranking is very justified," he said.
Britton, the Orioles 2010 minor league pitcher of the year, went 10-7, 2.70 last season between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk. Britton, who turned 23 on Dec. 22, gave up two earned runs or less in 21 of 26 starts.
"I think Britton is the top left-handed pitching prospect in the minors, although on our list he is sixth. I think he can even be underrated a little bit," Callis said.
"I still think he has the best sinker in the minors. He's throwing in the low 90's consistently with unbelievable sink. His slider got a lot better. It just seems like he gets better every year. He holds his stuff deeper into games and keeps improving his command and secondary stuff. Personally, I see him as the top lefty pitching prospect in the game."
On his personal rankings, Callis rated Machado ninth and Britton 17th.
Coming later today: We'll get Callis' take on whether Britton should begin this season in the majors or minors and his comments on where Machado may play this summer.
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