Hall of Fame voter Mark Zuckerman on the 2014 class
Last month, Baseball America listed the Orioles’ top 10 prospects. Not surprisingly, the top four and six of the 10 were pitchers.
The Orioles selected pitchers as their top picks the last three years. Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and Hunter Harvey were chosen in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Bundy and Gausman quickly made it to the major leagues.
Harvey, who pitched briefly for Gulf Coast and Aberdeen after he signed, could begin his first full year at Delmarva. That’s what Bundy did in 2012 before speeding through three minor league teams and ending the year in Baltimore.
That won’t happen to Harvey, who turned 19 last month.
Manager Buck Showalter and new pitching coach Dave Wallace wanted to get a look at Harvey, and he was invited to last week’s minicamp. Harvey is the fourth rated prospect.
Eduardo Rodriguez, who pitched well for Frederick and Bowie last year, is the third rated prospect.
Bundy is still rated second despite his Tommy John surgery and Gausman’s impressive late season bullpen outings. Gausman will probably begin the year in Norfolk but will get to pitch in Baltimore.
It will not be a surprise if Gausman ends the year in the Orioles’ rotation. Bundy could get a late season look if his recovery continues to go well, but the Orioles don’t want to put any pressure on him.
Tim Berry, who is on the 40-man roster for the first time and Mike Wright, are the other top prospects.
Manny Machado was the last “can’t miss” position prospect. Two of the four position players in the top 10, have already played for the Orioles, second baseman Jonathan Schoop and outfielder/DH Henry Urrutia.
Schoop will most likely start his season with Gausman at Norfolk, but could also be quickly called up.
Urrutia is the early favorite to be the left-handed hitting designated hitter.
Catchers Michael Ohlman and Chance Cisco are the other top prospects, but neither will appear in Baltimore any time soon.
Ohlman has never played above Single-A and Cisco was drafted out of high school last season.
Gausman is the prospect with the best fastball and changeup. Bundy has the best curve, and Wright the best slider.
Zach Davies, a 29th round pick in 2011, has the best control. Davies had a decent year for Frederick last season.
Baseball America lists Urrutia as having the best ability to hit for average and Schoop the best power potential. Schoop also has the best infield arm, and Ohlman, the best strike-zone discipline.
Josh Hart, the Orioles’ compensatory pick last year, is the best defensive outfielder and best athlete.
Dariel Alvarez, a Cuban defector who played for Bowie late last season and also was invited to minicamp, has the best outfield arm.
Brian Ward, who’s not a highly thought of prospect, is the best defensive catcher, and Adrian Marin, a high 2012 draft choice, is the best defensive infielder.
Ward is 28, and played one game for Norfolk last year. Marin will probably begin the year at Frederick.
Glynn Davis, a Baltimorean, who was drafted out of Baltimore County Community College, is the best baserunner. Davis hasn’t played above Frederick.
It’s intriguing that Bundy is still rated ahead of Gausman. His long-term potential is obviously considered higher than Gausman.
If that’s the case and both Bundy and Gausman are solid major leaguers, perhaps there’s a case for optimism around here.