1) Paco Figueroa - (Bowie Baysox) - (95 G, 350 AB, .280/.365/.354)
After managing Figueroa for each of the past two seasons, Bien Figueroa told ITW "He reminds me of Brian Roberts when he was younger. He's just a baseball player."
That's high praise, for sure, and Figueroa does have a chance to be a solid regular in the major leagues. His batting line this season gives a good idea of what his ceiling would be like in the big leagues, but that's plenty of production for a middle infielder. When you add on his speed and solid defensive chops, Figueroa could end up being quite the valuable property.
2) Ryan Adams - (Aberdeen Ironbirds) - (67 G, 246 AB, .236/.296/.329)
After entering the season as one of the organization's top position player prospects, Adams' full-season debut has to be viewed as a disappointment. Although he improved in the second half of the season, Adams failed to display his excellent hand-eye coordination at the plate. His defense at second base was more adequate than good and his bat is still his ticket to the big leagues. If everything comes together, he has the tools to be a solid no. 2 hitter in a major league lineup.
Joe Jordan summed up Adams' struggles by telling ITW "You see this with hitters… Brandon Snyder last summer… the first time they really struggle, sometimes they have to bottom out before they start listening and then start again."
Hopefully, Adams will rebound in 2008 as well as Brandon Snyder did this season.
3) Miguel Abreu - (Delmarva Shorebirds) - (124 G, 486 AB, .267/.285/.426)
Despite being 22 years old, Abreu is still a very raw player. His overall production aside, there are those within the organization that are intrigued by Abreu's tools and power potential. Obviously, he needs to tighten up his strike zone and see a few more pitches, but Abreu is closer to prospectdom than many realize. His defense is enough to keep him at the keystone as he moves up, though turning the double play has not been his forte.
4) Jonathan Tucker - (Frederick Keys) - (124 G, 446 AB, .260/.351/.323)
The very definition of scrappy, Tucker is probably the least imposing physical presence in the system. Despite his diminutive stature, he has shown some contact skills and the willingness to work the count and steal some bases. Tucker is a leader by example in the clubhouse and on the field and gets the most out of his skills. He got some work in the outfield as well, where he actually looked pretty good, and profiles as a super-utility type. Don't be surprised, though, if his walk totals start dropping as he moves up the system. Pitchers at higher levels normally don't mind challenging players with his lack of power.
5) Eider Torres - (Norfolk Tides) - (108 G, 393 AB, .267/.307/.338)
When the Cleveland Indians no longer had room for Torres, the Orioles jumped at the chance to sign him and added him to their 40-man roster. Although he didn't have a great season at Norfolk, Torres is better known for his speed and defense than his hitting prowess. He stole 22 bases for the Tides this season, after stealing 43 in 2006 and being named an Eastern League All-Star. He's a career .278 hitter in the minors and has exhibited some contact skills, but his lack of power and patience likely means he'll never be much more than a 25th man in the major leagues. He's a good candidate to get dropped off of the 40-man roster this off-season, if space becomes an issue.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com