Lebron is in Sarasota and has been throwing simulated games consistently. We could see him return to the minors sometime in August.
Beal’s most likely at home after undergoing labrum surgery at the beginning of the season. When he’s ready to begin baseball activities he’ll head to Sarasota.
Erbe had been scheduled to throw a simulated in early June, but couldn’t get loose so he was scratched. I haven’t heard anything since.
Todd (Chapel Hill, NC):
I’ve been wondering about the potential of some of our infielder/utility guys going forward. What do you think will eventually come of Blake Davis, Ryan Adams, L.J. Hoes, Buck Britton, etc.?
While Davis can play multiple positions, he’s not particularly strong anywhere and I don’t think he’ll hit enough to even become a utility player in the majors. You’ll probably see him in the bigs for short stints over the next few years when there’s an injury. But he’s just not talented enough to hold a spot on the active roster for an extended period of time.
As most O’s fans know after watching him on Baltimore, Adams’ defense is well below-average and he’ll commit errors on routine plays. He simply looks uncomfortable in the field and his defense won’t ever earn him a utility role. A year ago I thought he was a potential replacement for Brian Roberts, but I’m feeling less comfortable with that now. If his bat comes back alive, he could probably serve as a starting second baseman on a third division team.
The major concern with Hoes right now is his lack of power. He has shown an advanced for the strike zone and has hit above .300 at Bowie this year. However, I still feel Hoes’ bat speed is going to give him some gap power eventually, and he also has room to add about 10 pounds. More use of his upper body and more of a load in his swing would go a long way towards increasing his power production. Although he’s spent a lot of time in the outfield this season, I still believe Hoes will settle in as an average defender at second base, and his bat is more than enough for the position. He’s athletic enough to handle the position and simply needs more reps and experience. We could see an infield of Jonathan Schoop (3B), Manny Machado (SS), and Hoes in Baltimore in two to three years.
Zach Britton‘s brother, Buck, looks like a late bloomer and has put up some good looking numbers across Frederick and Bowie this season, with a .379 OBP and .895 OPS. I haven’t seen him this season but I spoke with Don and he believes Buck is at least an average defender at all four infield positions. If he continues to hit like he has this season he does have potential to become a useful utility player in the bigs.
Charles Brown (Lincoln, DE):
Looking at some of the arms in the minors that are old for their league and our bull pen woes (outside of Johnson and Uehara), when if at all would you move these pitchers to the big league ‘pen? Bascom, Spoone, Erbe, Drake, etc…
When you look around at the bullpens in Major League Baseball, you find that the vast majority of relievers are actually “failed” starters. The most efficient method of building a bullpen is by converting pitchers within the organization whose arsenal is not deep enough, or command not sharp enough, to get through ML lineups the second and third time around. You don’t have to look past Jim Johnson, Jason Berken and Koji Uehara to see how it’s possible to make a successful reliever out of a failed starter. To boot, it’s a much cheaper option than investment in the Free Agent reliever market.
In my opinion, each of the four pitchers you mentioned most likely ends up in the bullpen if he should be so fortunate to have a Major League career at all.
Brandon Erbe stood the best chance of starting in Baltimore, but injuries have cost him crucial development time. If and when he is healthy, it will be best to ease him back into pro innings and let his role be determined down the line when he’s proven his arm is strong enough to handle regular workloads.
Chorye Spoone is another starter whose development has been derailed by injuries. He was a legitimate prospect before the shoulder troubles, but he never had ML command and now he’s struggling to miss bats as well. He’s 25 and posting a 1:1 K:BB ratio across AA and AAA There’s just no way that kind of command/control will allow him to be a successful starter in the AL East. It’s time to move him to the bullpen, let him gun it for an inning at a time, and see if he can suppress the walk total.
Both Oliver Drake and Tim Bascom are having nice seasons, but they are 24 and 26 years old respectively and are repeating their levels. I have significant doubts that their stuff will hold up as starters even at AAA, and they’ve wasted a good bit of time flip-flopping between levels as starters. Bascom recently went through a 5 game stretch out of the bullpen in AA Bowie and didn’t allow a run in 9 innings.
Cole McCurry is a good example of failed-starter-conversion. The lefty had basically stalled out in A ball three years running before making the move to the pen this season at the age of 25. Since then he’s posted a 1.18 ERA in 45 innings across the three highest levels. The Orioles might do well to throw any or all of the guys you mentioned in AAA Norfolk’s pen and see what sticks.