Later today, Baseball America will release a new Orioles top 10 prospects list and we’ll find out who’s in and who’s out.
We know for certain that three members of last year’s top 10 will not be on the list today. Kevin Gausman, who was No. 2, and Jonathan Schoop, who was No. 5, now have too much major league time to qualify for the list. Pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, No. 3 last winter, was traded to Boston for Andrew Miller.
Last year, the top four on the list and six of the first eight were pitchers with Dylan Bundy, Gausman, Rodriguez and Hunter Harvey topping the list, Tim Berry at No. 6 and Mike Wright at No. 8.
Last year, the Orioles’ farm system was ranked No. 10 in the majors by ESPN and No. 12 by Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus.
But as I wrote over the weekend, the O’s will likely fall a bit in those organizational rankings after losing the three players mentioned above, all of whom were ranked in at least one publication’s top 100 prospects list.
But no matter what the rankings say, the O’s player development operation in the minors seems to be on the upswing.
I asked Baseball America writer and editor J.J. Cooper for his take on the O’s player development operation under Dan Duquette.
“You have to be somewhat impressed,” Cooper said. “Part of that is a halo effect from success at the big league level. And I will say the Orioles’ farm system has gotten significantly better and some of this precedes the Duquette regime.
“You go back 10-15 years ago and it was in poor shape. It was tough to find 30 guys (to rank in the Prospect Handbook). It has taken a big step up from there. The need to win at the big league level, though, does involve taking some hits at the minor league level.
“Like this year with the draft. If you are drafting late, it is hard to get as much talent, especially under the new draft rules. But I feel like the Orioles have done a better job of hitting on their top picks in recent years and they’ve done a better job getting those guys to the big leagues.”
The Orioles have given up draft picks and minor league prospects to acquire players like Nelson Cruz, Ubaldo Jimenez, Bud Norris and Andrew Miller.
The farm system did its job there, serving the greater need of the big league club, which won 96 games and a division title.
“I don’t think you can say the farm system has taken a step back from last year, but it is not as talented probably as last year,” Cooper added.
“I think readers sometimes don’t understand when they see a team go down in the rankings. If you promote a Gausman and lose a guy like Eduardo Rodriguez, you take a hit because of that, but that is not a bad thing.
“They were a playoff team and those guys were part of them being a playoff team. Hey, it’s nice to be ranked No. 1 in our talent rankings, but they don’t give awards for that. No one is going to trade that for winning at the big league level. That is the whole purpose. If you keep guys in the minors longer, you can do better in these rankings. Sometimes fans can caught up too much in those, though.”
Check back here later today for more with Cooper and the rundown of the new O’s top 10 list after it is released.