PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 10: U.S. Futures All-Star Manny Machado #3 of the Baltimore Orioles takes an at bat during the 2011 XM All-Star Futures Game at Chase Field on July 10, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The Blue Jays were the first team I ranked in the brand new BtB Prospect Rankings, and now it's time to tackle team number two: the Orioles. If you missed my explanation on how these rankings work, you can find it by clicking here. That said, I'm going to include the "tier" key in every ranking post. Here it is:
Tier 1 (4 points): Major League Star -- Number One Starter
Tier 2 (3 points): Stand Out/Above Average Regular -- Number Two/Exceptional Three Starter
Tier 3 (2 points): Solid, Average, Every Day Regular -- Number Three/Solid Four Starter
Tier 4 (1 point): Bench/Below Average Regular -- Borderline Four/Number Five Starter/Relief Pitcher
In short, although the Orioles system has added several high-quality prospects over the past year or so, it still sits near the bottom of the league in comparison to other teams. Even the best prospects in the system carry a boatload of risks and are major questions going forward. Sans Manny Machado, the core of indispensable prospects in this system stem heavily from the 2011 draft. The exclusions of the aforementioned prospects, the 2011 draftees, place the Orioles system near dead last and more importantly, with only one or two 1st & 2nd tier prospects.
Aside from the questions looming around many of the higher upside players, the system offers some intrigue. Guys like Parker Bridwell and Clayton Schrader are a couple of mysteries despite having some major downsides, and then there's L.J. Hoes, an infielder who people have been waiting on to blossom for quite some time. He has shown indications that he can be an everyday second-baseman, but nothing other than that. That's been the real problem for the Baltimore farm over the past few seasons -- inconsistency.
The inconsistency has mostly occurred within the hitters and has resulted in major drawbacks from top picks. With new additions of Nicky Delmonico, Jason Esposito and of course, our good friend Dylan Bundy the organization has high hopes that this will change. But even so, as we witnessed with the Royals last year, you can't build a championship team based solely on prospects. Unlike the Royals, however, the Orioles don't more than three or four potential high-impact prospects, so they'll need to build off of 2011 and continue drafting well and economically despite the new CBA intervention.
To finish summarizing the system, I suppose it's worth noting how much this list could change a year from now. The bottom of the top 12 heavily relies on younger, high upside guys. The O's system could very well improve and become a top 15 system should some players continue their development accordingly, but it also has a chance to go completely haywire. Sure, all systems have a chance to do so, but the Orioles don't have as much depth as other teams do. Anyway, on to the top 12 prospects, which, again, will include a brief scouting report on the player.
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