Dylan Bundy, Hunter Harvey top Baseball America O’s top 10 prospects list

Despite the fact that they pitched just 22 innings last year between them, Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey remain ranked No. 1 and No. 2 on the top 10 Orioles prospects list released this morning by Baseball America. They are ranked one and two for the second straight year.

At a time when the O’s farm system has gotten some criticism, it still has two hurlers topping the rankings who have big upside and the potential to still be top-of-the-rotation pitchers and potential aces. Now they just need to stay healthy.

Here is a look at the top 10 and a few comments on each player:

Bundy-Spring-Throws-White.jpg1) Dylan Bundy, RHP: He has been limited to 63 innings since the 2013 season, but tops the list for the fifth consecutive year. He underwent Tommy John surgery during the 2013 season and then dealt with a shoulder issue last season. He went to the Arizona Fall League last month, but missed his third scheduled one-inning start. It was a precaution when he was not allowed to pitch that game and Bundy is now considered healthy. Now we find out if he can stay that way. He is out of options heading into next season.

2) Hunter Harvey, RHP: He has not pitched in a game since July 2014 due to elbow issues. Harvey got a platelet-rich plasma injection in May, but was shut down again during instructional league when the discomfort came back. In early October, Dr. James Andrews said Harvey should rest for four to six weeks. That period has come and gone, and he has resumed throwing and is doing well right now, O’s director of player development Brian Graham said. We can’t forget how good Harvey can be. Last March, there was talk during spring training that he could even make the majors during 2015.

3) Chance Sisco, C: He moves up from No. 4 last year to No. 3 now. Sisco has a career slash line of .326/.402/.436 and this season reached Double-A at 20. While his defense is below average, you can find scouts that feel he could turn into a capable defender if he makes progress. His role model should be Caleb Joseph, who heard for years he was not good enough on defense. Then he did what he needed to do there - he got better.

4) Jomar Reyes, 3B: Reyes started at Single-A Delmarva at 18 and should move to Single-A Frederick next season. He has two plus tools - power and arm. Reyes was rated 13th-best prospect in the South Atlantic League by Baseball America. One scout said his build reminded him of Miguel Sano and his batting approach of Jonathan Schoop.

5) Mychal Givens, RHP: He’s still eligible for this list after pitching 30 innings in the majors, where he worked to an ERA of 1.80 with 38 strikeouts. Drafted in 2009, he was once ranked among the Orioles’ top 10 prospects as a shortstop. The conversion to the mound has been a big success and provides some evidence that the Orioles can indeed develop a pitcher on the farm. He soaked up knowledge last year from Darren O’Day and that education should continue in the bigs next season.

6) Chris Lee, LHP: The Orioles acquired him in May from Houston for two international bonus slots. Lee showed a fastball that touched the mid-90s and a tight slider that can touch the high 80s. But some feel his changeup is his best secondary pitch. He worked well and learned from pitching coaches Kennie Steenstra at Frederick and Alan Mills at Double-A Bowie.

mountcastle-high-school-sidebar.jpg7) Ryan Mountcastle, SS: Drafted 36th overall in June (with a compensation pick for Nelson Cruz), Mountcastle had a strong debut in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. Baseball America ranked him as the GCL’s No. 15 prospect. Mountcastle showed above-average bat speed and a good approach this year for an 18-year-old. One scout said he had a special bat that could one day hit in the middle of the order. You can find scouts that feel he should be higher on this list.

8) Trey Mancini, 1B: With a slash line of .341/.375/.563 between Frederick and Bowie, he was an easy winner of the Orioles minor league Player of the Year award. Mancini led all O’s minor leaguers in batting average, homers and RBIs. His slugging percentage increased from .409 in 2014 to .563. Mancini can drive the ball to all fields and his tireless work on his defense at first base has paid off. He could impact the O’s roster this year.

9) DJ Stewart, OF: Drafted 25th overall by the Orioles in June out of Florida State, he had what certainly could be termed a sub-par season, batting just .218 with six homers in 62 games at short-season Single-A Aberdeen. During instructional league, Stewart made some adjustments to his pronounced low crouch in his batting stance, standing a bit more upright. It could help him to better get to premium fastballs and produce less wear on his legs. He should go to Single-A Delmarva in 2016.

10) Mike Wright, RHP: Wright made his big league debut in May, when we saw him touch the high 90s and pitch 14 1/3 scoreless innings over two starts. He looked great. But he later struggled and finished with a 6.04 ERA with the Orioles. He has pitched to an ERA of 1.75 over his last 22 Triple-A starts. But now can he carry some of that success over consistently to the majors? Wright is strong and durable, yet some feel his best role is going to be as a setup-type relieve, where his velocity will play up some.

This list features five newcomers in the top 10 this year in Givens, Lee, Mountcastle, Mancini and Stewart. Five dropped out: Christian Walker (No. 3 last year), Dariel Alvarez (No. 5), Zach Davies (No. 6, traded), Tim Berry (No. 7) and Mike Yastrzemski (No. 9).

The O’s farm teams, from Triple-A Norfolk through the GCL O’s, went a combined 366-333 last season. Norfolk (78-66) and Bowie (79-63) made the playoffs, and Bowie won its first Eastern League championship in September. Some of the young kids showed promise on a GCL team that went 34-25.

Despite some of those numbers, there are analysts that expect the Orioles farm system to be ranked way down on the list when organizational rankings come out.

At the Winter Meetings, I interviewed Baseball America’s John Manuel. I asked him if fans should be concerned by that.

“I think I’d be more concerned if they weren’t contending at the major league level,” he said. “To me, I’d rather be contending in the majors than be rated highly on the farm. If Baltimore’s big league team slips this year for the second consecutive year and their farm system is not ranked highly, then I would start being concerned.

“To me, it’s a trend kind of thing. The way the game is set up right now, it is very difficult to both contend and have a highly ranked farm system. Not contending goes along with having the big international bonus, the big signing draft pools. There are only a few teams that are able to pull that off consecutively right now. Houston is one of them. Let’s see them do it again at the major league level. I think they will. It is hard to do both. That is when I would start to get concerned - if the major league product falters along with the minor league product.”

blog comments powered by Disqus