Sunday, March 31, 2019

2019 Frederick Keys Prospect Preview




After 14 consecutive losing season, the Orioles had a successful run from 2012 to 2016, making the playoffs three times.  On August 30, 2017, the Orioles were a game and half  out of the wildcard race.  The Orioles would go 7-22 the rest of the way.  Rather than looking to rebuild, the Orioles signed Alex Cobb and Andrew Cashner as free agents. Since 1962, only the 2003 Tigers had a worse record than the 2018 Orioles which went 47-115.

While no one could have predicted that the Orioles were going to be as bad as they were in 2018, it was inevitable that the Orioles success was unsustainable.
  • The Orioles are a mid market team competing in a division with the Yankees and Red Sox.
  • The Orioles traded away young talents including Jake Arrieta, Josh Hader, Eduardo Rodriguez and Zach Davies in deadline trades for veterans.
  • The Orioles lost 1st round draft picks for free agent signings Ubaldo Jimenez in 2014 and Yovanni Gallardo in 2016 and 2nd round picks for free agent signings Nelson Cruz in 2016 and Alex Cobb in 2018.
  • The Oriole have been behind other team in using data analysis.  Zack Britton comments in this link are telling.  Britton on Data Usage.
  • The Orioles largely ignored the international free agent market.  MLB's top four prospects in baseball going into the 2019 (Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Fernando Tatis Jr, Eloy Jimenez and Victor Robles) are international signings.
  • Going into the 2016 season, the Orioles signed Chris Davis to a 7 year $161 contract. Davis declined rapidly and had a historically bad 2018 season (.168 /.243 /.539) making him untradable.  There are still four years left on his contract.
To summarize, the Oriole are competing with teams with much more money, while being less innovative and making short sighted decisions.  This is not a winning long term strategy and in 2018 it finally blew up in a big way.

With a 23-59 record and 32 games out of first place heading into July, the Orioles made the logical decision to traded their veteran assets (Manny Machado, Zack Britton, Kevin Gausman and Jonathan Schoop) for prospects.  However, even then it seemed that they focused on quantity over quality and proximity over upside.  

The disastrous 2018 season happened at the same time that the Orioles 89 year old owner, Peter Angelos' health reportedly declined so that his two sons are now in charge.  In November the Orioles hired Mike Elias from the Astros to as their Executive Vice President and General Manager.  The Astros have been the opposite of the Orioles in terms of going through a full rebuild and being at the forefront on innovation.  It is possible that years from now Orioles fans may look back at 2018 season as the best thing that could have happened because it caused the team to make major philosophical changes in how they operate.   

At least initially in 2019, the Keys will have one top prospect and then more suspects than prospects.



Name
DL Hall 
Age
9/19/98 (20) 
Height and Weight
6'2" 195 lbs 
Acquired
1st round in 2017
Pre Season Prospect Ranking
47 overall by Rotowire
Prospectslive.com Org Ranking
MLB Org Ranking
Chances of being in the Carolina League
The roster is out and to the surprise of few, Hall will open the year on the Keys.

Hall is a legitimate top of the rotation pitching prospect. The Orioles picked Hall 21st overall and he had a very encouraging first full season with Delmarva in the Sally League the 2018.  The left handed Hall was decent in the first half of 2018 (3.76 ERA 36 strikeouts in 40 innings and a 1.43 WHIP) and dominant in the second half (0.84 ERA 64 strikeouts in 53 innings and a 0.97 WHIP).  Hall has a plus fastball and curveball and a decent change up.  Command and injury are the things that could hold Hall back and he made nice strides with his command in 2018.



Name
Adley Rutschman
Age
2/6/98 (21) 
Height and Weight
6'2" 216 lbs 
Acquired
Potential 1st overall pick in 2019 draft 
Pre Season Prospect Ranking

Prospectslive.com Org Ranking

MLB Org Ranking

Chances of being in the Carolina League
If the Orioles select Rutschman 1.1, he would likely spend the last part of the season in Frederick. 

The Orioles have the first pick in the upcoming draft and Rutschman seems the likely choice. The switch hitting catcher should be a top 25 overall prospect as soon as he is drafted.  At Oregon State, Rutschman hit .408 /.505 /1.133 in 2019 and is off to an even better start in 2019.  Rutschman is considered solid defensively with the potential to be above average.





Name
Brenan Hanifee
Age
5/29/98 (20)
Height and Weight
6'5" 180 lbs
Acquired
4th round draft choice in 2016
Pre Season Prospect Ranking

Prospectslive.com Org Ranking
19
MLB Org Ranking
19
Chances of being in the Carolina League
Hanifee will begin the year in Frederick

Hanifee injured his back after signing in 2016 out of high school and did not pitch.  He has been successful in 2017 with Aberdeen in the NY Penn League and 2018 with Delmarva in the Sally League.  Hanifee is a sinker ball specialist that induces weak contact rather than strikeouts. In 200 innings as a pro, Hanifee has only walked 34 batters.





Name
Cameron Bishop 
Age
2/14/96 (23) 
Height and Weight
6'4" 215 lbs 
Acquired
26th round in 2017 
Pre Season Prospect Ranking

Prospectslive.com Org Ranking
21 
MLB Org Ranking
20 
Chances of being in the Carolina League
Bishop will begin the year in Frederick 

Bishop was a late round pick out of UC Irvine who the Orioles signed at the signing deadline for 3rd round value after a deal fell through for their 4th round pick Jack Conlon.  Bishop was dominate in 2017 with Aberdeen and very good with Delmarva in 2018 but fairly old for a prospects at those levels.  The southpaw has a good fastball but the off speed pitches are still developing.



Name
 Matthias Dietz
Age
 9/20/95 (23)
Height and Weight
 6'5" 220 lbs  
Acquired
 2nd round in 2016
Pre Season Prospect Ranking

Prospectslive.com Org Ranking

MLB Org Ranking

Chances of being in the Carolina League
Dietz will open the season with the Keys

Dietz was the 69th overall pick in 2016 out of Junior College.  As a pro he has struggled with control. After a mediocre year with Delmarva in 2017, Dietz had a decent start with the Shorebirds in 2018 even though he walked 36 in 65 innings and he got promoted to the Keys in July. It did not go well. Dietez ended up walking 39 batters in 38 innings with the Keys with 7.98 ERA and a 2.06 WHIP. Diet will get another chance with the Keys. A shift to the bullpen may be in his future.



Name
Cody Sedlock 
Age
 6/19/95 (23)
Height and Weight
6'3" 190 lbs 
Acquired
1st round pick in 2016 draft 
Pre Season Prospect Ranking

Prospectslive.com Org Ranking
29 
MLB Org Ranking

Chances of being in the Carolina League
Sedlock will open the season with the Keys

When the Orioles made Sedlock, out of University of Illinois, the 27 overall pick in 2016, it seemed that as an advanced college arm, he would be a fast riser.  However, he has suffered from thoracic outlet syndrome symptoms for the past two years and not been right.  Sedlock has chosen rehab over surgery and will see if he can regain his form in 2019.






Name
Jomar Reyes
Age
2/20/97 (22)
Height and Weight
6'3" 220 lbs 
Acquired
International signing in 2014 
Pre Season Prospect Ranking

Prospectslive.com Org Ranking

MLB Org Ranking

Chances of being in the Carolina League
Reyes will open the season with the Keys

The rare international Orioles signing, Reyes is beginning his 4th year on the Keys. He is still young. In 2016 Reyes was the youngest player in the Carolina League, eight months younger than Rafael Devers.  While Devers has 680 MLB at bats, Reyes has been stuck in Frederick.  Given his size, Reyes should hit for more power.  He is stiff at 3rd base, but has a very strong arm.






Name
Jean Carlos Encarnacion 
Age
1/17/98 
Height and Weight
6'3" 195 lbs 
Acquired
Trade with the Braves for Kevin Gausman
Pre Season Prospect Ranking
230 overall by Fantrax (Eric Cross) 
Prospectslive.com Org Ranking
10 
MLB Org Ranking
15 
Chances of being in the Carolina League
Will start the year in Delmarva, but should be promoted to Frederick during the season 

Encarnacion is very talented but raw with holes in his swing.  His skills standout in he Orioles organization which is devoid of this type of size and athleticism in the lower levels.  Encarnacion also needs to develop consistency at the hot corner where he had 30 errors in 92 with Rome prior to the trade, but did improve at Delmarva with only 3 errors in 21 games. Wisely, the Orioles are returning Encarnacion to Delmarva to get more experience before bringing him up to Frederick.



Name
Cadyn Grenier 
Age
 10/31/96 (22)
Height and Weight
5'11" 188 lbs 
Acquired
1st round of 2018 draft (CBA)
Pre Season Prospect Ranking

Prospectslive.com Org Ranking
20 
MLB Org Ranking
Chances of being in the Carolina League
Grenier will begin the year in Delmarva, but should b promoted to Frederick quickly if he hits some.  

Grenier played at a famous high school baseball program that produced Joey Gallo, Marty Cordova, Zach Collins and Joey Rickard.  In college at Oregon State, Grenier played with Adley Rutshman, Nick Madrigal and Trevor Larnach where they were NCAA champions in 2018.  Grenier was the 37th overall pick one pick in the draft, one pick before Xavier Edwards, whom the Orioles are likely to regret passing.  Grenier is a defensive first shortstop who struggled in 53 games at Delmarva in the Sally League (.216 / .297 / .630) with 53 strikeouts in 162 at bats.  Grenier has a limited upside for a player picked in the 1st round.




Name
 Blaine Knight
Age
6/28/96 (22) 
Height and Weight
6'3" 165 lbs 
Acquired
3rd round in 2018 
Pre Season Prospect Ranking
461 overall by Imaginary Brick Wall   
Prospectslive.com Org Ranking
18 
MLB Org Ranking
10 
Chances of being in the Carolina League
Knight will begin the year with Delmarva, but it would be disappointing if he did not spend at least half the year with Frederick or Bowie 

Physique wise Knight is a dead ringer for Chris Sale.  The Orioles can only hope that the slender right handed Knight has some of the same success that Sale has had.  Knight led Arkansas to the College World Series where they lost in the finals to Oregon State.  After going 14-0 and throwing 102 innings in college, the Orioles took it easy with Knight only having him throw 10 innings at Aberdeen.  Knight has four pitches and should move up quickly.

Future Carolina League Prospects

Grayson Rodriguez (P) -The 12th overall pick in the 2018 draft, the hard throwing Texas right hander just turned 19 in November.  Rodriguez will start at Delmarva and look to follow a similar to path in 2019 as DL Hall did in 2018.

Adam Hall (SS) - A 2nd round draft pick in 2017, Hall is originally from Bermuda and went to high school in Canada. Hall had less baseball experience than a typical high draft pick.  The speedy got better as the season went on in 2018 in Aberdeen and will open 2019 in Delmarva.

Jean Carmona (SS) - Part of the package the Orioles received from the Brewers for Jonathan Schoop, the switch hitting Carmona just turned 19.  Carmona is athletic but struggled in 2018 in short season ball and will begin 2019 in extended spring training.

Drew Rom (P) - A 4th round draft pick in 2018 out of high school in Kentucky, Rom was outstanding in 30 innings in the GCL and the Orioles have aggressively assigned Rom to Delmarva to begin 2019.