The allure of the baseball prospect

There is something intriguing about a baseball prospect. He provides hope of what he might become and how he can help the team. The highly-ranked prospect gets fans excited. They dare to dream that these players may become All-Stars or even something more like an elite talent that can lift up an entire franchise.

There is always hope of a brighter future and that the young kid getting some hype now might later be the next big thing.

Two days ago, I wrote this story and it got a lot of reaction. We had an interesting day-long discusson about the immediate future of the Orioles. Some fans feel it is already time to start trading players like Zach Britton and Manny Machado. They feel the players will soon be pricing themselves right out of Baltimore, so the club should get a nice package of prospect now while their value is so high. All-Star talents with two years of team control will command a big price via a trade.

But my contention was that it’s too soon for that. The Orioles, in win-now mode, need to see it through with their current group of core players. They’ve made the playoff three times in five years and need to see how far they can go with the current group. Especially at a time when their 2017 rotation - expected to be headed by Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy - looks solid.

Orioles bags.jpgSomtimes prospects do turn into All-Stars. But many times they don’t. Some never even see one day in the majors. But their appeal is strong, it seems to me. There is always the next flavor of the month.

As fans and readers here ponder the Orioles immediate future, is adding prospects now for current major league talent just too risky? Is the allure of the prospect driving some in their opinions on this topic?

Minor league deals: The Orioles have re-signed four players to minor league contracts for 2017. They are first baseman Aderlin Rodriguez, shortstop Erick Salcedo, right-handed pitcher Franderlin Romero and catcher Audry Perez.

Signed as a minor league free agent in January, the 24-year-old Rodriguez had a big year for Single-A Frederick, batting .304/.359/.532 with 26 homers and 93 RBIs. He led all O’s farmhands in homers and RBIs, and ranked fourth in batting average. Rodriguez was ranked among the Mets’ top 30 prospects four times by Baseball America between 2008 and 2012.

The 23-year-old Salcedo was acquired by the Orioles along with outfielder Natanael Delgado last March for left-handed pitcher Chris Jones. In 133 games for Frederick, he hit .270/.319/.369 with three homers and 39 RBIs. He could advance to play shortstop for Double-A Bowie next season. Salcedo was rated as the Angels’ No. 27 prospect after the 2013 season.

The 23-year-old Romero was acquired by the Orioles last May 23 from the Cincinnati Reds for two international bonus slots totaling close to $700,000. Romero, whose fastball touched 94 mph, went 6-4 with a 6.16 ERA in 16 starts for Frederick. Over 76 innings, he allowed 96 hits with 22 walks and 54 strikeouts. He began the year going 1-4 with a 2.87 ERA in eight starts for Single-A Dayton in the Midwest League before the trade.

The 27-year-old Perez was acquired by the Orioles for cash considerations from Colorado in March of 2015. He was a non-roster spring training invitee last March and then went to Triple-A Norfolk, batting .291/.343/.386 with six homers and 38 RBIs for the Tides. Perez, who hit .301 in the second half, ended the year on the disabled list with an oblique strain.

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