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: Val Majewski
It's tough to look at Majewski's middling season and see much power potential, but he is the exception on this largely prospect-less squad. Val tore his labrum at the end of the 2004 season and didn't undergo surgery to repair it until the beginning of the 2005 season. After sitting out for a year, Majewski got some at bats in the Arizona Fall League but was still rusty heading into this season. He could be seen getting ice treatments on his shoulder up to an hour before games well into the season. If there is a silver lining, it is that no one has ever questioned Val's work ethic. If he can get fully healthy, Majewski is a legitimate 25 home run threat.
Contact: Val Majewski
Let me be upfront and admit that Majewski does not project to have plus contact skills in the majors, but he comes closer than anyone else on the Lynx. Although it spiked a bit this year, Majewski's strikeout rate has been low as he worked his way up the organizational ladder. As the season went on, his swing got longer and he struck out more frequently. Fully healthy, however, he has a crisp swing that could allow him to hit in the .280 range as a major leaguer.
Speed: Esix Snead
The 30 year old Snead is far from a prospect, but he is a legitimate burner. He stole 15 bass in just 41 games this year and racked up 46 stolen bases last season. He also puts his speed to use in the outfield, where he plays a very good center field.
Plate Discipline: Val Majewski
As mentioned earlier, Majewski has always been able to avoid striking out. As he worked deeper into counts this season, Majewski was also able to rack up more than his share of walks. In fact, walking in 10.2% of his plate appearances was one of the few statistical markers of any progress in Majewski's tumultuous season.
Sleeper: Luis Terrero
Although he's done it in the past, it's tough to fully dismiss a 26 year old that puts up a .927 OPS in the International League. Major league pitchers are better able to take advantage of Terrero's spotty pitch selection, but every once in a while a guy like this is able to tighten up his strike zone and carry his production forward to the highest level. At the very least, Terrero will be a sought after minor league free agent this off-season.
Fastball: Hayden Penn
The 21 year old works off of his fastball that can touch 94 MPH and regularly sits in the low-90's. The pitch has excellent late movement and he is effective at keeping it low in the strike zone (at least in the minors). Penn also throws a cutter that crosses the plate at 84-87 MPH. If that's not enough, Lynx catcher Eli Whiteside named Penn's fastball the best pitch on the staff.
Breaking Ball: Cory Morris
The 27 year old Morris is something of an enigma. Success has come and gone, but Morris has always racked up a good deal of strikeouts. He owes much of this to his big breaking curve. Morris is the type of pitcher that could benefit greatly by trusting his stuff and attacking hitters more often.
Changeup: Hayden Penn
How does a 21 year old dominate every level of minor league baseball without a good breaking pitch? Well, one way is to have three other pitches that all rate above average. Not only that, but Penn is excellent at mixing his changeup in throughout his pitch sequence, which serves to keep hitters off balance.
Command: Hayden Penn
Penn is also well regarded for his uncanny command and pitchability. For a guy that can barely buy an alcoholic beverage, Penn pitched like a veteran tearing through the International League. His 3.2:1 K:BB ratio is largely responsible for his success.
Sleeper: Winston Abreu
The 29 year old Abreu has long put up gaudy strikeout rates. The problem areas have been that his command comes and goes, he is a pronounced flyball pitcher and he has been susceptible to the long ball. This year, everything seemed to click for Abreu and he allowed only 4 homeruns in over 65 innings. After looking at his gaudy 2.48 ERA, it's hard to believe that the Orioles failed to give him a clean shot at a big league bullpen job.
Infield Range: Ed Rogers
Rogers is a one-time prospect that now looks to be destined for a career as a AAA journeyman. There are worse fates, I suppose. Nonetheless, Rogers is a good defensive shortstop with reliable hands. Now, if he could just learn to walk more than twice a month…
Outfield Range: Luis Terrero
Terrero isn't exactly a range moster, but he handles center field capably. He gets good reads on the ball, takes effective routes and has a very good arm. All this allows him to play a bit deeper than most center fielders and cover plenty of ground.
Arm: Eli Whiteside
Whiteside has one of the best arms among minor league catchers. His feet aren't quite as fast as his throws, but his pure arm strength keeps runners at bay.
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