Michael Schwartz (Newark, DE):
Keith Law said Jonathan Schoop was the most impressive hitter at the Futures Game. First thing that came to mind was “better than Machado?” Is Schoop now a better prospect than Machado? If not, how far behind is he?
From an offensive standpoint, their games are similar with minor advantages here or there.
Manny Machado is a bit more refined at the plate, with a solid base foundation. He gets great extension & coverage, controls the bat head through the zone, and maintains square contact on multiple pitches and pitch locations. This should allow him to hit for a high average well north of .300 as a professional.
He has solid lag and an ever so slightly upward swing. Since he’s a line drive hitter, it might take away from the power production. Machado still has more than enough to turn on pitches and should compile 15-20, or even 30 home runs, but likely somewhere in between. He could improve his power with an increase in mass. With refinement at plate he should turn into a solid 2 or 3 hole hitter.
This will sound like a broken record, but Jonathan Schoop will hit for average and shows solid control of the bat head through the zone similar to Machado. It is not a foregone conclusion that his contact rate would be higher than Machado, as Schoop still needs to iron out a few kinks in his approach. He is likely to be a .280-.300 type hitter.
Schoop’s swing has typical arc of power hitters with a more upward movement and he easily lifts the ball into the air. He has wiry power, with strong wrist and forearms. He generates a great deal of power with the lag between the upper and lower body. You combine the lag power generation with the upward swing and it could help him become an established power hitter in the 20-30 home run range. As with Machado, some added weight and slightly improved approach could generate additional power and turn him into a 4 or 5 hole hitter.
In terms of grading, Machado will always have a slight edge over Schoop as a result of his defensive abilities. Machado has the range, arm and instincts that play well at shortstop. Schoop has a very strong arm, but his range is really limited to 3B, although he can likely get away with playing second base. I’m splitting hairs, but these are the reasons why you will see the slight edge with Machado.
Both are solid prospects and if I see Schoop handle second base well, both are solid grade A prospects in the future. At this stage, I rate Machado as an A- prospect and Schoop as a B+ due to defensive ability alone. Their offensive production projects to be very similar and it is nitpicking when discussing the magnitudes of their contact and power production.
Doug (Middletown, DE):
It’s now been 2 years since the 2009 draft when the Orioles went heavy on injury prone, but high upside, arms. Are any of them showing promise this year, and, if so, which ones do you think are the most likely to be major league regulars someday?
The Orioles gave out $100,000 or more to 12 pitchers from the 2009 draft class, 5 of which were injured during the course of their 2009 season. Not only have four of those five pitchers re-injured themselves since being drafted, but 9 of the 12 pitchers who received $100,000+ have been injured during their time as an Oriole.
|1||Matt Hobgood||$2,422,000||Shoulder injuries in both 2010 & 2011|
|4||Randy Henry||$365,000||Elbow injury in 2010|
|5||Ashur Tolliver||$200,000||Shoulder injury in 2010|
|7||Aaron Wirsch||$200,000||UCL tear in 2011, needs Tommy John|
|9||Ryan Berry||$417,600||Shoulder injury in 2011|
|10||Jake Cowan||$175,000||Labrum injury in 2010, led to labrum surgery|
|14||David Baker||$150,000||Appendix surgery in 2010|
|21||Kevin Landry||$105,000||Shoulder injury in 2011|
|22||Cameron Coffey||$990,000||Shoulder & elbow injuries in 2010|
Hobgood had a shoulder injury in the middle of 2010 that returned during 2011 spring training. He certainly has not looked like the pitcher that made him a first round pick, although he is in much better shape this year than he was in 2010.
The Orioles kept Henry in extended spring training because they wanted to let the weather heat up before sending him north to Delmarva. After 13 games with the Shorebirds, Henry is looking like a very strong relief prospect and has closer type stuff.
Tolliver was expected to move quickly as a relief prospect, but a shoulder injury kept him in extended spring training in 2010 until the short-season leagues started. He put on weight during the 2011 off season and has come back strong in 2011, with 24 strikeouts in 22.2 innings for the Shorebirds. He’s a potential setup man.
Wirsch has thrown just 38 pro innings since being drafted, as an oblique injury kept him out of game action for the majority of 2010. He was back at full strength during 2011 spring training and broke with the IronBirds, but he’s down again, this time with a UCL tear which will likely require Tommy John Surgery.
R. Berry had a ganglion cyst drained from his right shoulder in late-March and has been limited to 10 rehab innings in the GCL this season. He will always be an injury risk, and I think he’ll eventually settle in as a very good middle reliever or setup man in the bigs.
After a labrum tear which led to surgery in 2010, Cowan was kept in extended spring training this year and then broke with the IronBirds. He’s come back nicely with 28 strikeouts in 26.2 innings. Cowan’s still projectable and already has two above-average pitches in his changeup and curveball. His low 90s fastball is average, but he pitches backwards by using his secondaries to set up his heater, so the low velocity isn’t a huge issue. If he stays healthy, Cowan could become a back-end starter.
When talking about which of these ’09 pitchers are showing promise, Baker is one of the first names to come to mind. His curveball was too slow, so he added a slider to his arsenal this season, and it has paid dividends. Baker has #3/#4 starter potential and it would not surprise me to see him emerge as one of the best pitchers from this class.
Palsha wasn’t injured in 2010, but a personal issue limited his 2010 innings. He’s a possible middle reliever.
If Martin can clean up his mechanics, and find a more consistent release point, he could become a solid #3 starter. He started the season in the Shorebirds’ bullpen and walked just 8 batters in 23 innings, but a move to the rotation has led to an increase, with 34 in 41 innings as a starter. There’s a lot of potential here, although I think the most likely outcome is that Martin becomes a very good lefty reliever.
Landry was solid out of Delmarva’s bullpen in 2010, but hasn’t played this year because of a shoulder injury. He’s another guy who could help in a major league bullpen eventually.
Best known for his record breaking $990,000 bonus, Coffey is full healthy and pitching as a member of the GCL Orioles rotation. His velocity has been 87-88 mph this year, which is likely a result of not pitching consistently over the past two seasons. He still has room to grow into his 6′ 5″ frame and with a strong off-season workout plan should be able to regain the 91-94 mph velocity that earned him that lofty bonus. He’s still one to watch.
Some were surprised when T. Berry jumped from the GCL in 2010 to Delmarva’s rotation in 2011. But the 50th rounder has held his own in the Sally League at just 20 years old. He has room to add around 15 pounds and already sits in the 90-92 mph range with his fastball, so there should be more velocity coming. With that velocity, and an above-average breaking ball, Berry has some #3/#4 starter potential.
Saying the pitchers of the 2009 draft class have been a disappointment is an understatement. There’s still time for them to turn it around, but few of these pitchers have proved worthy of their signing bonuses and all have had trouble staying on the field.
Right now the most promising arms from this class are Randy Henry and David Baker. With the rest, we’ll have to wait and see.
Adam (Pleasanton, CA):
How high would Oliver Drake be on an Orioles Top Prospects list?
I had thought Oliver Drake was ready for AA batters at the beginning of the season, but the Orioles sent him to high-A Frederick to open the season, and justifiably. He had a good opening effort in Frederick and the Orioles pushed him to Bowie. He was shelled in his limited action to the tune of 4.00 WHIP and ERA of 24.75 over two outings. He was given a spot relief in a short stint at Norfolk in late June to cover transitions, where he turned in a solid effort out of the bullpen to finish the game in semi-garbage time. For a nice chunk of the season, he has been playing in his second season at Frederick.
Drake has shown better command of his pitches this year and signs of solid improvement on the hill. He is mixing his pitches more effectively and keeping hitters off balance. Even when they do hit him, he has limited the mistakes enough to keep the ball in the ballpark. He has tightened his slider a bit more this season and the change up is showing a bit of average life now. He has kept the ball down in the zone more frequently. The combination of his pitches staying down and the improved command of the fastball and secondary offerings has led to an improved strike out rate and reduced walk rate.
Drake is 24 years old and slightly old for the Carolina League, but he is still dominating that class. He has two solid offerings in his fastball and slider and both could play well in a middle relief role.
He very well could be a late bloomer, as his Naval Academy services did not allow him to participate in larger summer leagues that speed up the growth curve. 2011 was a make or break season for him and he has improved. I would prefer to see him face the Eastern League, and with success there I would grade him out higher. But, his 2011 success is promising.
Drake is a fine prospect with a star not quite as bright as some of his teammates on the Fredrick staff, but ranks within my top 20 prospects in the organization. He could move up a few spots higher with a solid showing at Bowie sometime later this season.