A look at why the Orioles will fall when organizational rankings come out

When Baseball America and other publications that rank minor league prospects comes out with a new list of organizational rankings, the Orioles are likely to take a bit of a fall.

These rankings take a look at the minor league systems around baseball and rate the current overall talent. ESPN rated the O’s No. 10 before last season while Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus rated the O’s No. 12.

But the Orioles will likely fall into the 15-20 ranking, possibly a bit lower, when new ratings are released.

There is a very good reason for this: The Orioles have lost some talent for those lists as players have “graduated” to the majors and no longer qualify to make prospects lists.

Here is a listing of the O’s top 10 prospects ranked by Baseball America last December:

1) Dylan Bundy
2) Kevin Gausman
3) Eduardo Rodriguez
4) Hunter Harvey
5) Jonathan Schoop
6) Tim Berry
7) Henry Urrutia
8) Mike Wright
9) Michael Ohlman
10) Chance Sisco

Three of those 10 made Baseball America’s top 100 prospects list last February with Bundy No. 15, Gausman No. 20 and Rodriguez No. 65.

ESPN’s Keith Law ranked four O’s pitchers among his top 100 prospects last year with Gausman No. 23, Bundy No. 31, Harvey No. 38 and Rodriguez No. 43. He had Schoop No. 86 for five top 100 players.

bundy-throwing-sidebar.jpgBut the Orioles seem likely to have only two top 100 prospects when the new lists come out in Bundy and Harvey. Having less star power at the top of their prospects list and fewer top 100 players will likely drop the O’s overall organizational ranking.

But the club used three of those top five prospects to help win at the big league level this year. Gausman and Schoop were contributers on a playoff team and Rodriguez was traded to acquire Andrew Miller. Trading your prospects for major league talent is another way to make your farm system work for you.

Earlier, the O’s traded two young players in L.J. Hoes and Josh Hader, plus a competitive balance draft pick in July of 2013 to Houston to get pitcher Bud Norris. Hader was recently named Houston’s minor league Pitcher of the Year for 2014.

Brad Brach, a key member of the 2014 O’s bullpen was acquired for Devin Jones, a minor league pitcher. And the O’s gave up two draft picks to sign Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz. They didn’t have a draft pick until the third round in June.

They gave up potential future talent to help the Orioles win now.

After all, the goal of any farm system is to produce players to win at the big league level. The O’s did that well during the 2014 season, winning 96 games and the American League East and reaching the American League Championship Series.

Because Gausman and Schoop no longer can make a prospects list (with too many big league innings and at-bats) and because Rodriguez is now gone, the O’s will drop in the organizational rankings. But it happened for the best reason - the O’s used those players to win in the majors.

Baseball America top 10 coming Monday: Baseball America will begin to roll out another fall and winter of team top 10 prospects lists next week and the first team up is the Orioles. The O’s new top 10 prospects list will be released on the Baseball America website on Monday.

I do have some knowledge of the list since I was involved in putting it together for the second year in a row. It was challenging and fun to again work with the Baseball America staff in compiling the O’s top 10.

While my name will appear on the writeups, it is not my list or my opinions. The rankings are compiled by talking with front office staff inside and outside of the O’s organization. The Baseball America staff oversees everything and no one does this better. Their editors and staff talk to scouts and front office execs all over baseball to finalize the list. I’m proud to do my part.

I look forward to the release of the list on Monday and later the publication of the Orioles top 30 prospects list and more information in the Prospect Handbook. I’ll have a lot more on this throughout the day on Monday.

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