Talent evaluation for prospects is always a blend of statistical analysis and projection. The single biggest part of projecting a young baseball player involves grading out his tools. Here, we take a look at each individual team in the Orioles system and determine which prospect has the best power potential, best fastball, etc. Players are considered to be a member of the team they played for the most in 2006. If a player split the season fairly evenly between two different teams, they will be considered for the higher level only. No prospects are counted as members of two different teams. For example, Billy Rowell is considered on the Bluefield Orioles because he played over 80% of his games there. On the other hand, Garrett Olson split his season between Frederick and Bowie and will be considered for the Bowie Top Tools segment only. All evaluations are made by ITW staff, with consideration to input from various coaching staff and personnel.
Power: Jeff Fiorentino
Fiorentino's status as the Baysox' top power prospect is more a reflection of the lack of premium offensive prospects on this particular club than anything else. Nevertheless, Fiorentino has extremely quick wrists that helps him make up for what scouts consider a somewhat awkward swing. He slugged .454 in the second half of the season and belted 13 homeruns in 385 at bats in a decidedly pitcher-friendly park. Fiorentino profiles to hit around 20 home runs at the highest level, given a full season of at bats.
Contact: Jeff Fiorentino
Once again, Fiorentino's quick wrists enabled him to hit .328 in the second half of the season and .376 in his final 109 at bats. Though he struggled early in the season, much of that can be attributed to various injuries that are not of the long-term variety.
Speed: Noah Hall
Hall is one of the fastest players in the Oriole's system and can reach first base in 4.0 seconds from the right batter's box. If not for the presence of Fiorentino, Hall would likely have patrolled center field full-time for the Baysox. He was only 18 of 26 in stolen base attempts this season, but he's been highly successful on the bases in the past.
Plate Discipline: Jeff Fiorentino
Fiorentino had a season of mixed results. While it's plain to look at his early season slump and how that could tarnish his prospect status, Fiorentino's plate discipline improved by leaps and bounds this season. Not only did he improve his walk rate to 12% of his plate appearances, Fiorentino cut his strikeout rate nearly in half. In fact, the 23 year old's .91 K:BB ratio against Eastern League pitching isn't the only indicator of his increased maturity at the plate. He also walked 7 times against only 3 strikeouts in his limited major league action this season.
Sleeper: Bryan Bass
Bass is a former first round pick, but he hasn't had a truly good offensive season since his days at Bluefield. His .212 batting average in his first exposure to high minor's pitching is less than inspiring, but he did walk in 16% of his plate appearances and 36% of his hits went for extra bases. The 24 year old is off to the Arizona Fall League, where he'll try to get back on the organization's radar.
Fastball: Brian Finch
It may be all he has at this point, but Finch has a plus fastball that can hit 95 MPH. He gets excellent sink on the pitch, which has helped him induce plenty of groundballs. His strikeout rate would likely get a boost if he was used in relief, but the Orioles have been reluctant to switch him so far.
Breaking Ball: Garrett Olson
It's no contest for this category, as Olson has the best curveball in the organization. After some early troubles finding a consistent arm slot, Olson has skyrocketed through the system. His curveball has a sudden late break and helped him hold fellow southpaws to a .579 OPS in Bowie.
Changeup: Brian Forystek
Before surgery to remove a bone spur, Forystek regularly touched the low 90's with his fastball. Since then, he's worked a few MPH below that, but his changeup has remained above average. If he can get back to his former arm strength, his off-speed stuff will be even more of an asset.
Command: Garrett Olson
Once again, Olson was the clear winner for this category. Olson was so advanced that several people within the organization that I spoke with felt he could have had an impact on the 2006 bullpen. Olson did walk 31 batters and hit 6 more, but he gets points for his ability to spot his average fastball low in the strike zone.
Sleeper: Anderson Garcia
Garcia was a late addition to the Baysox after being claimed off of waivers from the New York Mets. Garcia is already 25 years old and his stats have not lived up to his arsenal, but he can fire his fastball as high as the mid-90's with a solid slider. He tends to get in trouble in bunches, giving hope that he might find some consistency at some point. If he does, his ceiling is as a set-up guy in the show.
Infield Range: Rayner Bautista
Bautista did little to help the Baysox on the offensive side of the ball, but he did play a capable shortstop. He's seen action at second base in the past, but his range and arm are more than enough for shortstop.
Outfield Range: Jeff Fiorentino
Fiorentino split his time between left and centerfield this season. While he may not be the defensive standout that Noah Hall is, Fiorentino gets the nod for his improved play. He's looked like a certain left-fielder in the past, but his second full season in the outfield proved to be pivotal in his development. The biggest differences were in his reads off the bat and better routes to the ball. Fiorentino should be able to handle centerfield capably for long stretches, if not full time, at the highest level.
Arm: Ryan Hubele
Hubele has limited offensive upside but his defense is major league caliber. His arm strength is solid, but it is his accuracy and quick release that makes him effective against potential base-stealers. With that kind of defensive impact, the 26 year old is sure to keep getting chances.
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