For the past few years, McKamey has put his unique combination of statistical analysis and old school scouting techniques to use in his annual Minor League Baseball Analyst.
The 2008 Minor League Baseball Analyst profiles over 1000 minor league prospects and includes detailed scouting reports, sabermetrics, Major League Equivalencies, organizational lists, Top 100 list, and Potential Ratings. The book can be purchased through Baseball HQ at baseballhq.com where the purchaser will also receive a free update to the lists in the book. People may also purchase the book through any of the major on-line bookstores. The Minor League Baseball Analyst is expected to arrive mid-January.
Inside The Warehouse was fortunate enough to catch up with Deric and ask him a few questions about the Baltimore Orioles' minor league system.
BALTIMORE ORIOLES TOP 15 PROSPECTS
1. Matt Wieters (C)
2. Bill Rowell (3B)
3. Radhames Liz (RHP)
4. Troy Patton (LHP)
5. Nolan Reimold (OF)
6. Jake Arrieta (RHP)
7. Garrett Olson (LHP)
8. Chorye Spoone (RHP)
9. Brandon Erbe (RHP)
10. James Hoey (RHP)
11. Pedro Beato (RHP)
12. Brandon Snyder (C)
13. David Hernandez (RHP)
14. Mike Costanzo (3B)
15. Bob McCrory (RHP)
ITW: Has Radhames Liz shown that he can stick as a starter or do you think he still ends up in the bullpen?
Deric McKamey: Liz made some real progress in terms of repeating his delivery and showing stamina. We all know he has two outstanding pitches (89-98 MPH fastball and curveball) and would thrive immediately in relief, but he's shown enough with his change-up and improved delivery that I think he can remain a starter. I'd like to see him trust his secondary stuff when behind in the count and work the corners more precisely.
ITW: Troy Patton's strikeout rate fell a lot in 2007, but he's still regarded as a possible #2/#3. What do you make of him?
Deric McKamey: Patton is very athletic and repeats his arm speed well which allows him to subtract from his fastball with his cutter and change-up. He has learned to pitch more to contact and rely on deception, which is why his strikeout rate has declined. His slider isn't always tight and I worry about his flyball tendencies. His upside is probably more of a #3 starter, but I'm pretty confident he can reach it.
ITW: Jake Arrieta was great his sophomore year, mediocre in his junior year, and then shined in an advanced assignment to the AFL. What kind of ceiling does the big right-hander have?
Deric McKamey: Arrieta was one of the more impressive pitchers I saw in the AFL. He has late life to his 87-94 MPH fastball and gets outs with both his slider and splitter. His strikeout rate in college wasn't that great compared to other pitchers in his class and because he struggles to repeat his drop-and-drive delivery, his command can be inconsistent. I like his strong frame and arm action, so could be a solid #3 starter, but at worst, I could see him being an effective setup reliever.
ITW: Garrett Olson struggled in his MLB debut. Do you think he'll kick in into gear in 2008?
Deric McKamey: It isn't uncommon for rookie hurlers to pitch tentatively in the Majors, and I think that was what happened with Olson. He doesn't have a great upside, but has three workable pitches, repeats his high ¾ delivery, and keeps the ball low, which will work at the backend of the rotation. I could see him having periods where he'll struggle, but I believe he will pitch much better at the next opportunity.
ITW: Nobody's stock has risen as much as Chorye Spoone's. What came together for him this season?
Deric McKamey: Spoone really made progress with his secondary pitches, bumping his curveball from an average pitch to an above average pitch, and being more consistent with his change-up. He was very tough to hit and has a good combination of arm strength and arm action. I feel he still needs to repeat his delivery more frequently which will help the change-up play-up and give him better efficiency.
ITW: What do you make of Brandon Erbe's struggles? Does he still have frontline starter potential?
Deric McKamey: Erbe's command really took a hit and from what I was told, the Orioles really wanted him to focus on not relying on his plus fastball and to use his change-up more frequently. I have a little more trepidation as to whether he can be a frontline starter, because he lacks deception from his high ¾ slot, doesn't have much of an off-speed pitch, and tends to throw across his body, which could affect his stamina with a full workload. If he doesn't succeed as a starter, he certainly would make a dynamite short reliever.
ITW: Who has the higher ceiling between Jim Hoey and Bob McCrory? Do you see either as future closers?
Deric McKamey: Hoey has a higher ceiling just for the sake that he has better command and more polish overall. Both have excellent fastballs with outstanding movement, but I think Hoey shows a tighter slider. McCrory was the most impressive reliever I saw in the AFL and think he projects more as a setup reliever. Hoey has an outside chance to be a closer down the road, but he's going to have to show more aggressiveness on the mound.
ITW: Has Pedro Beato's stuff taken a step backwards?
Deric McKamey: Beato looked fairly sharp when I saw him pitch this summer, but looking how his base skills (command, strikeout ability, and oppBA) declined, I think you'd have to say his stuff did take a step back. His curveball and change-up were used very infrequently and certainly didn't use them in fastball counts. He does tend to pitch up, which means he'll always be hittable, but with his pitch movement, you'd like to see more strikeout ability. Like a lot of pitchers we've already discussed, he has two solid pitches that would allow him to be very successful as a reliever.
ITW: David Hernandez led the Carolina League in strikeouts by a wide margin. What kind of future do you see for him?
Deric McKamey: Hernandez has a very live arm, with pitch movement that compares favorably to Radhames Liz. The strikeout rate is very legitimate. He throws strikes, but probably needs to be more fine within the strike zone and of course (and this will sound like a broken record), he'll need to repeat his delivery more consistently to give him a better change-up. I could see Hernandez being a very solid, #3 starter.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com