Highlights- Pedro Beato claims to throw six pitches, but he will focus on three this season. He's a scout's dream with a nice body, good arm action, and plenty of velocity. Don't get carried away- his ETA is still a few years away, but his ceiling is huge. Luis Lebron can make batters look silly with his power fastball/slider combo. Doubts remain about his durability and mechanics, but he could move fast.
Sleepers- There are lots of sleeper prospects on this pitching staff and they will look to take advantage of Delmarva's run-suppressing environment to post some gaudy statistics. Blake Owen has a 90-93 MPH fastball with sinking action and a solid slider that helped him post a 3.81 ERA out of the bullpen in the South Atlantic League last year. Reid Hamblet was taken a round before Owen in the 2005 draft and will try to stick as a starter. He has a low 90's fastball and an advanced feel for a changeup, but his below average curveball might force him to the bullpen. Fernando De Nabal hits the mid-90's out of the bullpen but he is very raw. Jeffrey Moore has outstanding command of a fringe arsenal. Bradley Bergesen was the second highest drafted player to sign out of the 2004 draft and this will be a critical year for him to begin justifying his $310,000 signing bonus.
Victor Castillo; Michael Pierce; Brandon Snyder
Highlights- Still listed at catcher, Brandon Snyder will serve as more of a 1B/DH type this season to protect his shoulder. The company line is that he will return to catching in 2008, but I've already speculated that he is more likely to shift to the hot corner, since his defensive tools were already fringy at catcher and a lost year of development certainly won't help. He told ITW "I have a bit of soreness from the surgery, but nothing really bad" just two weeks ago and his raw hitting ability and power potential remain unquestioned.
Sleepers- Victor Castillo is a similar prospect to Frederick's Zach Dillon. He has good plate discipline, but the development of his power game will determine if he is anything more than an organizational type.
Stuart Musslewhite; Tag Horner; Miguel Abreu; David Cash; Pedro Florimon, Jr.; Pedro Silveren; Christopher Vinyard
Highlights- Pedro Florimon, Jr. is the type of player that scouts remain divided about. Some see him as a potential top-of-the-order hitter with excellent defensive chops, while others see enough holes in his swing to project him as a future utility player. At this point, Christopher Vinyard is stretched even to play first base, but his bat is legitimate. He could force the Orioles to carve out a role for him at some point.
Sleepers- The organization remains high on Miguel Abreu and his athleticism and defensive versatility. The son of a familiar ex-player with the same name, David Cash had a good debut after being selected in the 40th round last season. He'll see most of his playing time in the outfield corners, but he'll be more of a switch-hitting bat that moves around the infield and outfield this year. Cash looks better from the left side than from the right side at this point.
Highlights- Daniel Figueroa has plus speed and athleticism but hasn't been healthy enough to stay on the field dating back to his days at the University of Miami. He had an impressive spring, so it will be interesting to see if he finally breaks out.
Sleepers- Brandon Tripp is an excellent defender due to some great reads in the outfield. He has some power potential, but a long swing limited his ability to translate it into in-game effectiveness in 2006.
2006 first round pick Billy Rowell will be in extended spring training roughly through the month of April while he recovers from an oblique strain. The injury is considered minor and the Orioles are merely being cautious. Even at just 18 years old, his bat is advanced enough that he will serve as the team's #3 hitter and should be effective immediately. He has some further adjustments to make against fellow southpaws, but the main test will be his defense. Rowell is still very raw at third base, but a full season should help determine whether or not he will be forced across the diamond.
Ryan Adams and Kieron Pope are also coming off of minor injuries and will begin the year in extended spring training. Adams has an advanced approach and should hold his own against more advanced competition. Pope will be an interesting case to follow, considering how disparate his results were in 2006 at two different levels. He may have his struggles this season against more refined breaking balls, but a quick start will have him rocketing up prospect lists. It's possible that he will be held back until Aberdeen's season starts, or at least demoted back there after a few weeks in Delmarva.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com