Seven Sleepers to Watch in 2012

ITO goes through each of the O's affiliates and targets who is going to be the sleeper this year.

The Baltimore Orioles have seven minor league teams from the Dominican Summer League all the way up to the Triple-A. Each team has prospects that are known and working their way to the majors, but each team also has some 'sleeper' prospects the experts choose to overlook, so we point out which players to keep an eye on for the upcoming season.

Dominican Summer League Orioles: Janser Severino, RHP.

The 20-year-old bounced back from a rough first-year campaign as he compiled a 6-2 record with a 1.98 ERA in 14 games (12 starts) in 2011. Severino posted an ERA of 4.19 in 2010 which shows his improvement. The Dominican native increased his strikeouts per nine innings to 9.0 last year from 8.1 and also led the team in punch outs (77). He held opponents to a .188 batting average and only gave up one homerun. There is plenty of room for Severino to grow as he continues to mature and pitch at the higher levels. The strikeout to walk ratio (2.75) is an example of what to work on in the future. If he can lower the walks expect more strikeouts and consistency. Severino took the true first step in 2011 with his improvement and just needs to continue to build from his success.

Gulf Coast League Orioles: Roderick Bernadina, OF.

The Baltimore Orioles lack legitimate corner outfield prospects, however, Bernadina stands out as a right-fielder with potential. The 19-year-old is still a good bit away from being a top 10 prospect, but does have the ability to get there. Bernadina recorded 14 doubles and three triples to go along with four home runs for the GCL Orioles in 2011. There is raw power and it should continue to improve as he develops his 160 lb frame. The Curacao native is a good fastball hitter, but struggles hitting off-speed pitches. Bernadina has good bat speed and hand speed. The best attribute about him is that he is coachable and with his steady growth, could be a solid major league player.

Short-Season: Aberdeen IronBirds: Jorge Rivera, LHP.

Signed as a 17-year-old from the Dominican Republic, Rivera pitched most of last season with the GCL Orioles, but finished with Aberdeen. In 12 games, the left hander totaled a 1.09 ERA and earned five wins. Rivera started only once, so he could be groomed more as a reliever and at peak a future closer. The 20-year-old recorded 36 strikeouts in 33 innings and held opponents to a .193 batting average. Rivera's fastball ranges from 91-94 mph and has topped 96 mph. He will need to improve his control if he wants to be anymore than a reliever or closer.

Low-A Delmarva Shorebirds: Parker Bridwell, RHP.

A three-sport athlete in high school (Football, baseball & basketball), Bridwell is a candidate to rise quickly in 2012 if he gets off to a hot start. He struggled last year with a 2-8 mark and a 5.26 ERA in 16 starts. The former 2010 ninth-round selection touts a fastball that ranges from 88-93 and has topped at 95, a changeup and curveball. He strictly is focusing on baseball now as he originally committed to be a quarterback at Texas Tech. With more experience, expect the 20-year-old to improve with reps and at highest peak could be a middle of the rotation starter in the big leagues.

High-A Frederick Keys: Glynn Davis, OF.

Davis batted .284/.351/.362 in three different levels last season. He finished up with the Keys during their playoff run. The Baltimore native swiped 24 bases in 2011. Davis has good hands which increases his offensive upside. Expect him to start with Delmarva or Frederick in 2012 and continue to increase his stock in the Orioles system.

Double-A Bowie Baysox: Buck Britton, 3B.

Britton played extremely well at Frederick and Bowie in 2011. Buck, 25, is the older brother of Orioles pitcher Zach Britton. The Texas native batted .297/.354/.445 with six homeruns and 63 RBI in 107 games last season. Britton is a role-player that can play anywhere in the infield and the corner outfield positions. He resembles Milwaukee Brewers' infielder Brooks Conrad. Britton is the type of player who will get his uniform dirty on a daily basis and teams love that in an athlete. Look for Britton to start with the Baysox and potentially play his way up the ladder again this season.

Triple-A Norfolk Tides: Cole McCurry, LHP.

A true sleeper as McCurry was taken in the 43rd round by the Orioles in the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft. In five minor league seasons, the southpaw owns a 38-33 career record and an ERA of 3.44. McCurry compiled a 9-3 mark and a 2.57 ERA in 37 appearances last season. He mainly touts a fastball that sits in the 89-91 mph range, a solid changeup and developing cutter. He lives down and away which leads to ground outs and strikeouts. Fans could see McCurry as a good addition to the Orioles bullpen in 2012.


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