HT: 6-5 WT: 200 POS: 1B
Bluefield Orioles (18 G, 64 AB, .297/.418/.469)
Drafted by the Orioles in the 22nd round of the 2005 draft, Paul Chmiel is known in the clubhouse as "The Weatherman" for his attentiveness to current meteorological trends. This was his third straight year in rookie-level Bluefield and his season was confined to 18 games in August due to minor injuries.
Although Chmiel was ranked about 20 spots higher in last year's list, his prospect status has remained relatively static. His lower ranking is actually more of a reflection of the growing depth of the Orioles' farm system under the watchful eye of Joe Jordan.
When Chmiel did play, he spent most of his time in the 5-slot for the Bluefield Orioles. At a lanky 6-5, his power is more of the gap variety at present but he offers plenty of projection. He also has trouble using all fields and, when he does go the other way, he tends to hit weak grounders. Chmiel has a slight uppercut in his swing and average bat speed. If he fills out like some think he might, however, he should have the strength to muscle the ball out of the park.
Chmiel has an advanced approach and hould be able to maintain a high batting average as he moves up the organizational ladder. He hangs in against tough curveballs and has demonstrated no discernable platoon split.
When you're drafted as a first baseman and play there in rookie-ball, it's unlikely you're capable of playing anywhere else. Chmiel is a nice target at first base, but his footwork and hands need a lot of work. In his extremely limited action, he made 6 errors. People in the organization feel his flaws are correctable and he should be able to play an adequate first base with more experience.
In the past two years, the Orioles have imported a number of C-level first base prospects at the lower levels of the system. As such, Chmiel will likely have to contend with the likes of Anthony Martinez and Joe Mahoney for a spot on the Delmarva roster next year. It's more likely that he will spend the early part of 2008 in extended spring training and then man first base for the Aberdeen Ironbirds when their season starts in June. He's still too far away to accurately predict an ETA, but he has the tools to move fast, should he get the opportunity.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via e-mail at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com