1) Matt Wieters (N/A)
An easy choice for #1 (and not just at this position). Wieters is everything you look for in a stud prospect - good defense at a premium position, advanced approach, ability to hit for average and power. He will be making his professional debut in the Hawaiian Winter League and is a good bet to make his major league debut by 2009.
2) Zach Dillon (Frederick Keys) - (92 G, 305 AB .275/.352/.426)
Although he was in his age 24 season, Dillon's contact and pitch recognition skills are for real. He's also a solid receiver and should be able to stick at the position. His stats are nothing special for player his age, but lefty-hitting catchers who produce will always get another chance.
3) Dustin Black (Bluefield Orioles) - (33 G, 113 AB, .274/.397/.381)
Black is similar to the player he was in a tandem with this season- Brendan Monaghan. The draft and follow from last year's draft showed an advanced approach at the plate, though he probably has more power potential of the two players.
4) Brendan Monaghan (Bluefield Orioles) - (49 G, 166 AB, .277/.368/.434)
The 22 year old St. John's product showed an advanced approach against lower level competition and came on strong at the end of the season, though he's unlikely to ever have more than gap power. More importantly, he was a leader behind the plate and showed the aptitude to stick at catcher as he moves through the system.
5) Victor Castillo (Delmarva Shorebirds) - (81 G, 231 AB, .294/.371/.338)
The 22 year old remains a sleeper in the O's system after another season showing good contact skills and a solid approach. His power numbers are not a park illusion- he has little in the way of projection, either- but he's shown enough to get a good look at a higher level. He's a player that could sneak up on some fans.
6) Dashenko Ricardo (DSL Orioles) - (38 G, 111 AB, .297/.350/.405)
The book on this 17 year old out of Curacao is that he has trouble against breaking balls, which his fellow right-handers were able to exploit. Like Bernardo, he doesn't have a typical build for a catcher, but there's no harm in seeing if he sticks there through the lower levels. He'll have to make some adjustments in his approach to maintain his relative success when he comes stateside, but you can say that of most players his age.
7) Luis Bernardo (GCL Orioles) - (32 G, 102 AB, .225/.316/.284)
The 19 year old out of the Dominican Republic doesn't look like a catcher- he has a baby-face and a slender 6-0 frame- but he manned the position the majority of the time for the O's GCL contingent. He has shown some knack for contact skills and a strong, if erratic, arm. Still, the odds of him staying at catcher aren't great, but he's worth tracking.
8) Eli Whiteside (Bowie Baysox/Norfolk Tides) - (60 G, 202 AB, .257/.298/.426)
Whiteside is proof that, even at catcher, good defensive skills and plenty of raw power are not always enough. Relegated to spending most of his season back at double-A, he still refused to take a walk and wasn't able to convince anyone he had made progress with his contact skills (despite a .291 BA at Bowie). He's probably as good as Paul Bako, but that's called damning with faint praise.
9) Jordan Wolf (Aberdeen Ironbirds) - (36 G, 106 AB, .198/.287/.311)
Wolf had the opportunity to work with former O's catcher Andy Etchebarren in Aberdeen, who told ITW "He's done a good job behind the plate. I'm happy with his game calling and his throwing."
Unfortunately, the same could not be said about his hitting. The O's drafted Wolf in the 13th round after a big Senior season at Xavier University, but he looked more like the guy who struggled in his first three years of college in his pro debut. He'll have to make major adjustments next season to avoid getting buried in the organizational depth chart.
10) Ryan Hubele (Bowie Baysox/Norfolk Tides) - (78 G, 258 AB, .229/.278/.368)
Hubele looked good in his brief tenure with the Tides, but 2007 was mostly a step back offensively for the 27 year old. He did enough to maintain a role as an organizational player, but his chances of cracking the 25-man roster seem to grow smaller every year.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via e-mail at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com