#1 RHP Brandon Erbe- Erbe fell to the Orioles in the third round of the 2005 draft and has been making other teams feel foolish ever since. After a dominating debut, the 18 year old Erbe again made short work of much older competition. His 133 strikeouts in 114.2 innings pitched are a testament to his elite stuff, which includes a 90-98 MPH fastball with excellent movement, a plus cut fastball, a promising changeup and a developing slider. His power arsenal leads many observers to believe he will end up as a closer, but it's far too early to give up on starting. Erbe is a flyball pitcher, with a 0.72 GO/AO ratio, but he still only allowed two homeruns the entire season. The main worry is that scout‘s are divided about Erbe's delivery. He does have a tendency to throw across his body but it is certainly a correctable flaw.
#2 3B Billy Rowell- For the second year in a row, Scouting Director Joe Jordan targeted a prep position player with his first pick. And for the second year in a row, that player had a great debut. Rowell got off to a slow start in Bluefield, but his struggles didn't last long. Rowell projects to hit for both average and elite power, but there is still some concern about him being able to handle third base.
#3 LHP Garrett Olson- Olson even surprised Orioles personnel with how effective he was in his first full professional season. After a mid-season promotion to Bowie, Olson seemingly improved every facet of his game. He is now in line to make his major league debut at some point in 2007 and is very close to becoming a solid mid-rotation starter.
#4 OF Nolan Reimold- If you've ever seen Reimold take batting practice, then you understand why scouts get so excited by him. Reimold has light tower power and drew 76 walks in 415 at bats. Though he is still a bit raw for a college product, Reimold is a good athlete with a huge ceiling. He may never hit for a high batting average, but his secondary skills should still make him an above average corner outfielder in the long run.
#5 RHP Radhames Liz- Like Erbe, Liz's power arsenal leads many to believe he will end up in the back of Baltimore's bullpen. Despite struggling after his promotion to Bowie, Liz was still able to strike out over a batter an inning. If he does get converted to the bullpen, Liz could be in Baltimore sometime in 2007. Otherwise, he has work to do on his changeup and slider before he'll be ready for a big league rotation.
#6 RHP Pedro Beato- Luckily for the Orioles, the Mets failed to sign Beato, who was universally considered the best draft and follow pick from the 2005 draft. Beato's battle to come back from Tommy John surgery two years ago has garnered him quite a reputation for his work ethic, which any of Aberdeen's coaches will tell you is well deserved. Beato pounds the bottom of the strike zone with his mid-90's fastball and wicked slider. He‘ll start the season on a pitch count in Delmarva, but Beato could see action in Frederick next year if all goes according to plan.
#7 OF Kieron Pope- Like Reimold, Pope's power potential is immense. Although he is still extremely raw, Pope was on pace to win the Appalachian League triple crown before a promotion to Aberdeen. Despite his .341/.411/.585 batting line, Pope's 36 strikeouts in 135 at bats should have tipped off the Orioles that he was not prepared to face college-trained breaking balls yet.
#8 RHP Jim Hoey- After emerging from arm woes and lost season, Hoey is one of the best stories in the minor leagues. The 23 year old Hoey played at three different levels before getting promoted to Baltimore in late August and he dominated each level. Even if he opens 2007 in AAA, it won't be long before Hoey and his high-90's heat are setting up Chris Ray.
#9 OF Jeff Fiorentino- Scouts aren't exactly wild about Fiorentino but it is hard to argue with his production, at least when he‘s fully healthy. Although it took a scorching August to raise his batting line to .275/.365/.413, Fio has carried over his recent success into the Arizona Fall League, where he has been among the top hitters in the league. His route running has also improved to the point that he should be able to handle center field long term.
#10 2B Ryan Adams- Adams had a solid professional debut in Bluefield before hitting well in a short stint in Aberdeen. Adams also showed good reliability in the field for a teenager, although his range and arm strength will limit him to second base.
#11 LHP Zachary Britton- Britton had a very middling pro debut after being drafted in the third round, with a 5.29 ERA in 34 innings. But it's hard not to see what scouts like about this kid when he lets loose his 92-93 MPH fastball from the left side. Britton actually gained about 6-7 MPH on his fastball in the past year, so it's possible that there is even more projection left in his slender 6'2'' frame.
#12 C Brandon Snyder- Snyder's first full season was a disappointment after his sparkling debut last year. Although he continued to make progress defensively, Snyder looked absolutely lost at the plate and his plate discipline fell apart. Snyder will miss at least part of 2007 after some off-season labrum surgery and he may not even be the same player when he does come back. But there is too much raw athletic ability and promise to let Joe Jordan's first ever draft pick for the Orioles fall any further than this. At 19 years old, Snyder still has plenty of time to get back on track.
#13 RHP David Hernandez- Hernandez has been pegged as a potential sleeper since he was drafted and little has changed. The 21 year old Hernandez had a better year than his 4.15 ERA in Low A Delmarva would indicate, highlighted by his 154 strikeouts in 145.1 innings. He‘ll try to gain more consistent command of his low 90‘s fastball and promising slider in Frederick‘s rotation next year.
#14 SS Pedro Florimon- Florimon is the latest surprise to come out of the Orioles' Dominican scouting efforts. At 19 years old, Florimon hit .333/.456/.425 in Bluefield. Although he's not likely to continue walking that much at higher levels unless he can hit with more authority, it was still an impressive American debut. Florimon has the range and arm to stay at shortstop but, like a lot of teenage middle infielders, he needs to become more reliable in the field.
#15 1B Chris Vinyard- Vinyard exploded onto the prospect scene by slugging over .700 in his first month of professional baseball. Although he was drafted as a catcher, it's unlikely that Vinyard will ever be more than adequate even as a first baseman. Vinyard's ability to hit for both average and power is very real, but he'll have to make some adjustments as he starts facing better breaking balls.
#16 RHP Jason Berken- Although the 23 year old Berken will have to move fast to maintain his prospect status, his early results are very promising. 2006 was Berken's first year back from Tommy John surgery and it's quite possible his stuff wasn't all the way back. Berken has makeup through the roof and was extremely effective at locating his arsenal low in the strike zone.
#17 RHP Luis Lebron- Lebron may be an A-ball reliever with strong flyball tendencies, but it is hard not to like his fastball that can hit 97 MPH. With 46 strikeouts in barely over 30 Aberdeen innings, Lebron could zoom through the system if he makes any strides with his command.
#18 OF Val Majewski- After tearing his labrum late in 2004 and not getting surgery until the spring of 2005, Majewski finally came back this season. On the surface, his .260/.344/.381 batting line in Ottawa isn't overly impressive, but the 25 year old was battling shoulder soreness all season. If his .311/.392/.424 second half batting line is any indication, Majewski should be contributing in Baltimore in 2007.
#19 2B Paco Figueroa- Although Figueroa saw most of his action at second base, he has seen time in the outfield as well. Accordingly, he profiles best as a quality utility man at the highest level. Figueroa's .284/.358/.380 batting line earned him a selection to the Carolina League all-star game. His advanced approach should make for an easy transition to the upper minors.
#20 RHP James Johnson- Although Johnson is the same age as Berken and played at a much higher level of competition, his 2006 season could only be classified as a disappointment. Johnson has a low 90's fastball, a good curveball and a developing changeup that he spots low in the strike zone, although he does have a tendency to groove pitches when he behind in the count. His 4.44 ERA in Bowie understates his potential, which is that of a durable innings-eater at the back end of a rotation.
#21 RHP Wilfredo Perez- Perez's age 21 season was also his first back from Tommy John surgery. He suffered no apparent effects, as he struck out 31 batters in just over 24 innings in Aberdeen. His injury history and thin stature have raised some durability concerns, but also leave some room for project ability.
#22 OF Arturo Rivas- The 22 year old Rivas' production has never lived up to his considerable tools, but that changed after he received an undeserved promotion to Frederick mid-season. In 109 Carolina League at bats, Rivas hit .275/.389/.459. He'll return there in 2007 to try and prove it wasn't a fluke, as well as cast aside questions about his work ethic.
#23 LHP Brett Bordes- The Orioles' most recent 9th round selection was immediately shipped to the bullpen, where he is expected to move fast. Although his 30 strikeouts in 36.2 innings don't seem to justify a sparkling 1.96 ERA, Bordes induces groundballs at an extremely high rate. Accordingly, his power sinker is his highest rated pitch, although his high ¾ arm slot makes his breaking pitch too slurvy.
#24 1B Paul Chmiel- Lost in the hoopla surrounding players higher on this list, last year's 22nd round pick had a very solid year at Bluefield. The 19 year old showed off a sweet swing from the left side and an advanced approach at the plate. There is still plenty of room for him to add power as he matures into his 6'5'' frame.
#25 1B Mark Fleisher- Drafted eight rounds ahead of Chmiel, Fleisher is blessed with excellent bat speed. He was also an accomplished college pitcher, which is less of a big deal with him confined to first base defensively. Fleisher should enjoy the more friendly hitting environment in Frederick in 2007 and could end up with well over 20 homeruns.
#26 RHP Ryan Keefer- Keefer spent the majority of 2006 working back from arm woes. At 25 years old, I'm sure this is the last time he wants to appear on prospect lists. Nevertheless, Keefer has a fastball that can touch 94 MPH and has had success at AA in the past. He has struggled in very limited AFL duty, but he should be in the mix for a bullpen job in spring training.
#27 LHP Brian Burres- The Orioles have made better use of the waiver wire this season, highlighted by their snagging of the left-handed Burres from the Giants. There is nothing exceptional about Burres' arsenal or his stats, but he should make for a cheap and effective swingman in 2007. The 25 year old needs to be handled judiciously in a bullpen role; he has a hefty reverse platoon split.
#28 RHP Chorye Spoone- The Orioles took a chance on Spoone, drafting him in the eight round last year despite the fact that he had been suspended from local Catonsville Community College for disciplinary reasons and signing him for over slot money. Spoone's raw arm strength and electric arsenal have intrigued many within the organization, although his statistics have yet to reflect it. His long-term role may be in the bullpen, but Spoone will get plenty of chances to start.
#29 SS Blake Davis- Davis' athleticism is quite apparent when he is playing defense. He has soft hands and plus range. Davis also impressed by making his professional debut in a full season league, where he hit .271/.329/.377 for Delmarva. The 22 year old will have to hit with more authority to project as a regular but his glove will get him to the show.
#30 RHP Blake Owen- Owen works with a low 90's fastball and an average slider out of the bullpen. He posted a 3.81 ERA in 55 appearances for the Shorebirds. Owen posted a respectable strikeout rate with 50 K's in 59 innings and he was also effective at keeping the ball low in the strike zone.
#31 SS Bobby Henson- To the surprise of no one, Henson struggled mightily in his first exposure to professional pitching. Nevertheless, the Orioles have high hopes for the former prep pitcher and quarterback. The 18 year old has some pretty interesting parallels to Kieron Pope a year ago, with his excellent bat speed but poor pitch recognition. The Orioles hope he is able to make adjustments at a similar rate.
#32 RHP Marino Salas- Perhaps the least well-known member of the Orioles 40-man roster, Salas turned in another solid year as Bowie's closer. Working with a 92-94 MPH fastball and a solid slider, Salas' main problems have stemmed from a tendency to elevate his pitches. After posting a 2.92 ERA this season, it's likely the 25 year old will see time in Baltimore in 2007.
#33 SS Luis Hernandez- Claimed off waivers from the middle infield-rich Braves system, Hernandez has been well-known in prospect circles for some time. The 22 year old has excellent defensive skills, as well as an ability to play small ball. He‘ll begin next season in either Bowie or Norfolk, where he‘ll work to improve his plate discipline.
#34 RHP Brian Finch- Although he started in 26 out of his 27 appearances and his peripherals hardly justified his 3.65 ERA in Bowie, Finch is something of a bullpen sleeper. The Orioles do not have immediate plans to shift him to the pen, but it's easy to project his power sinker and slider working in that role. Thus far, attempts with different grips have done little to help him develop an effective changeup.
#35 OF Adam Stern- After speculation that he could be the Red Sox starting center fielder in 2006 and some World Baseball Classic heroics, Stern's season has to be classified as a disappointment. Batting in almost every spot in the order for the Pawtucket Red Sox, Stern batted just .258 with a .300 OBP. The 26 year old lefty-hitting outfielder will still get a shot at a reserve role in 2007.
#36 SS David Cash- The Orioles drafted the son of organizational coach Dave Cash in the 40th round of this year's draft. Though he doesn't have any exceptional tools, but he had a strong debut, hitting .297/.355/.405 for the Ironbirds. Cash will have to prove himself at every level; his amateur track record at the University of South Carolina was very spotty. Nevertheless, the 20 year old has great baseball aptitude and is reliable in the field.
#37 LHP David Haehnel- After dominating in his first two professional seasons, the Orioles made the decision to put Haehnel and his three pitch arsenal in Frederick's starting rotation to get him more work. Nobody is happier that this experiment is over than David Haehnel. Quite simply, his season was a disaster. His 6.22 ERA paints an accurate picture, as Haehnel was visibly frustrated at times throughout the season. It's important to remember just how good he was in the bullpen, though, since that's the role the 23 year old will resume in 2007.
#38 RHP Bradley Bergesen- The 21 year old Bergesen had a decent year in Delmarva's rotation. His below average strikeout rate was a direct reflection of his lack of a good breaking pitch, but he can dial it up to 95 MPH when needed.
#39 RHP Reid Hamblet- Hamblet's 5.08 ERA this season does not accurately represent his impressive fastball/changeup mix. If he is unable to further develop his breaking ball, Hamblet could move fast in a bullpen role, but the Orioles are set on keeping him in the rotation for now.
#40 UTIL Jonathan Tucker- The 23 year old Tucker not only impressed at Delmarva and Frederick this year, he is also hitting well in Hawaiian Winter Baseball. The 5' 7'' Tucker can hold his own at 2B, 3B, and in the outfield and profiles as a utility player at the highest level.
#41 RHP Luis Ramirez- Ramirez doesn't look like he could break a pane of glass with his fringy 87-89 MPH fastball, but all he has done as a professional is miss bats. He has little room for error, with an extreme 0.45 GO/AO ratio and a tendency to try to fool hitters up in the strike zone. Next year will be a major test, as the 24 year old finally gets a crack at AA.
#42 RHP Nick McCurdy- The 26 year old McCurdy has been successful in the upper minors, and more recently in the AFL, by inducing groundballs at a Todd Williams-like rate. There are some concerns that he will top out as a AAAA reliever, too good for the minors but not able to succeed in the majors, but he'll likely get a serious look for a role out of spring training.
#43 RHP Anderson Garcia- Garcia is another waiver claim that, like Burres, could help reinforce the bullpen next season. His stuff is top-notch, highlighted by a fastball that can touch 97 MPH. He tends to get in trouble in bunches, giving hope that the 25 year old's inconsistencies can be ironed out.
#44 RHP Aaron Rakers- What's 29 year old reliever with limited major league experience who is recovering from Tommy John surgery doing on this list? Well, in this case, Rakers has an extraordinary track record. Rakers gets little respect because of his marginal fastball and flyball tendencies, but Rakers could be an important part of the 2007 bullpen.
#45 RHP Ryan Stadanlick- Stadanlick was actually a power hitting outfielder in college, but scouts found enough holes in his swing that he made a conversion to pitching. Of course, having a low-90's fastball helped. Stadanlick was confined to bullpen sessions his junior season due to eligibility problems, but his coach was a former cross-checker for the Orioles who offered positive reports. Stadanlick's secondary pitches are, predictably, behind his fastball, but he did manage a 4.00 ERA his first full professional season.
#46 1B Dustin Yount- The son of Hall of Famer Robin Yount spent his age 23 season split between Frederick and Bowie. He was more successful in A-ball than in AA, highlighted by exceptional plate discipline. Yount will start next season back at Bowie and try to reproduce his success in the upper minors.
#47 RHP Josh Tamba- The Orioles most recent 7th round pick, the 21 year old Tamba posted a 3.21 ERA at Aberdeen in his first exposure to professional hitters. Tamba doesn't have any overwhelming pitches, but he has good command of three pitches and keeps the ball on the ground.
#48 RHP Kevin Hart- The 23 year old Hart was actually a successful two-way player at the University of Maryland, where he led the team in hitting his junior season. Once he turned pro, the decision to pitch full time was made easier by his four pitch arsenal. His best pitch is a power sinker that he keeps low in the strike zone, though he does have a tendency to groove pitches on occasion.
#49 C Eli Whiteside- Whiteside has one of the best arms in the minors and more pop in his bat than a typical backup catcher. But his poor plate discipline has inhibited his batting average and on base ability. Whiteside could make some minor improvements to his approach and wind up with a long career on a major league bench or he could wallow in AAA, getting a call-up when injuries hit. Whiteside's upcoming age 27 season will be a very important one for his career.
#50 SS Angel Chavez- Originally signed by the Giants in 1998, Chavez was most recently a member of the Philadelphia Phillies organization before coming to Baltimore in the Jeff Conine deal. Though he'll be 26 years old next season, Chavez already has good power to the gaps. He's seen action at shortstop, second base, and third base in recent years and he has enough range and arm strength to handle any of them. Although Chavez could stand to be more selective at the plate, he doesn't strike out excessively and can hit for decent batting averages. He should spend 2007 battling Ed Rogers for the right to be the first one called up in case of an injury to an Orioles' infielder.
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