At the start of the 2010 season, the Orioles switched the positions of David and John Stockstill, with John becoming the new director of player development. Since taking over, John has been much more aggressive than David had been with player promotions, perhaps best seen with Manny Machado, Mychal Givens, and Jonathan Schoop getting brief tastes of Frederick at the end of 2010. So far in 2011, several Orioles minor leaguers have moved up perhaps sooner than they would have prior to 2010. This post will take a look at those players.
CF Trent Mummey (Delmarva -> Frederick)
Mummey signed early after being drafted in 2010, and after 49 games at Aberdeen, was promoted to Delmarva for the end of the season, where he struggled mightily (.222 wOBA). He opened 2011 again at Delmarva and had much success, posting a .408 wOBA with 12 SB and good defense in center. He was promoted to Frederick on April 25, after just 127 PA over two seasons at Delmarva, which may seem too early, but Mummey quickly showed that he belonged, continuing the excellent walk and strikeout rates he had had at Delmarva while posting a .360 wOBA before suffering a concussion from which he has yet to return.
RHP Dan Klein (Frederick -> Bowie)
Another 2010 draftee, Klein signed later than Mummey, but also started at Aberdeen, where he absolutely dominated, allowing just one walk and one hit in 6.1 innings while striking out 10. Klein skipped over Delmarva altogether and began 2011 at Frederick, where he continued his dominance, striking out 21 in 15.2 innings and allowing just two runs. With his K/BB ratio through the roof, it was clear Klein was not being challenged at Frederick, so he was moved to Bowie despite being just 22 years of age and in his first full pro season. The promotion worried some Orioles fans, who saw it as an indication that the Orioles might be considering keeping Klein as a reliever rather than stretching him out with the hope of turning him into a starter down the road. However, it is more likely that the Orioles want Klein to be challenged, even while pitching two-inning stints out of the bullpen, and he was not getting that challenge in Frederick. The plan should still be for him to be a starter down the road, but with him at Double-A now, the temptation may be greater to bring him up to help out the big club out of the bullpen, especially with the O’s recent struggles in that area.
Kipp Schutz (Delmarva -> Frederick)
I’ve written about Schutz before. With a .447 wOBA in 165 PA at Delmarva this year, he certainly earned his promotion. At age 23 already, there would have been little value to keeping him in Delmarva all year. In fact, at his age, if he keeps hitting, a promotion to Bowie before the end of the year would not be out of the question.
OF Kyle Hudson (Frederick -> Bowie -> Norfolk)
Rarely does a player jump three levels in one season. Rarer still is a player jumping three levels in the first two months of one season. However, when it does happen, it is usually for one of two reasons: the player is an absolute stud prospect, or they are organizational filler. Hudson is probably closer to the organizational filler side of that spectrum, though there’s a bit of prospect left there. Hudson has some draft pedigree (4th round, 2008), and while he’s never had a ton of success with the bat, he’s been fairly consistent everywhere he’s gone. He started off 2011 repeating Frederick, and after a reduction in K rate, was promoted to Bowie. Then, after the recent rash of injuries at the ML level, Norfolk was in need of outfielders, and up came Hudson. This probably isn’t a sign that he’s about to be promoted to the bigs, but his promotion to Norfolk was fine because Hudson essentially is what he is: a .260/.350/.310 OF with great speed. That’s probably not more than a cup of coffee at the big league level, but Hudson has done well for himself to make it to Norfolk already.
2B/OF LJ Hoes (Frederick -> Bowie)
After a very successful 2010 that landed him at #4 on the ON top 50 prospect list — on the strength of his .380 OBP and improved defense at second — Hoes was surprisingly sent back to Frederick to start 2011. And, perhaps even more surprisingly, rather than dominating the Carolina League, Hoes struggled mightily in April and May, to the tune of a .291 wOBA. After starting to heat up in mid-May, he was promoted to Bowie, where many felt he should have been to start the season. He’s hit well since the promotion, going 4-for-8 with a double, but the thing that has some fans, myself included, concerned is that Hoes isn’t playing second base at Bowie, rather, he seems to have been moved back to the outfield, where he played in high school. This has to significantly hurt his stock as a prospect, as his bat, which is very good for a middle infielder, is nothing special as a corner outfielder. With all the strides he’s made defensively since being drafted, I’m struggling to understand the move to the outfield unless it was just a temporary thing to get his bat back on track.