Is there any talent on the DSL squads?
Based off the 2013 Dominican Summer League rosters, there are a few names that stick out to me as solid prospects. I haven’t seen any of these players (just a bit difficult for me to take trips to the Dominican!), but here are three minor reports that have been passed along to me throughout the 2013 season:
Daniel Franco – OF – Extremely athletic, wiry frame, could be a true center fielder down the road. Good range, glove needs work. Arm is fringe-average. Bat speed and contact ability is present. Not much power. Needs to become more of a baseball player instead of just an athlete.
Pedro Flores – SS/2B – Small framed, more agile than fast, handles the bat well. Zero power. Probably a second basemen long term but could be a high average player.
Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana?
Even with the signing of Jimenez, this question still has its merit. Both of these pitchers have their faults. I wrote at length about Jimenez here. A synopsis, he strikes a lot of people out and walks too many people. Santana is almost the reverse, he has a below average strikeout rate and walks people at a below average rate. Santana gets more groundballs, but gives up homeruns at a higher rate. They weirdly mirror each other. Jimenez is a year younger. I also think their contracts end up being very similar. Santana and Jimenez both have had their struggles year to year as well. Based on stuff and scouting I will take the upside with Jimenez. I like strikeouts combined with a low homerun rate and his reduced second half walk rate gives me a little hope that he can fix what ails him.
Matt Hobgood seemingly had a great year in Delmarva as a bullpen arm and managed not to hurt himself in the process. He isn’t getting alot of press anymore but could you see him emerging as a useful late innings guy in the next few years on the big club?
The 2009 first round selection has somewhat rebounded from a disastrous start to his professional career. Hobgood was flashing 90-94 out of the bullpen (note: this is in 2-3-4 inning spurts. He topped out at 97 mph) and showing some depth in his curve and some fade in the change. The real importance was that he was able to make it through the entire season. The whole point of 2013 was for him to stay healthy and build up some stamina and innings. A scout told me the following in April, “I don’t care about Hobgood in April and May, let me know what he looks like in July and August”. Hobgood was still flashing his stuff in July, even though it trailed off mildly in August. However, that is fine with me as he is still working himself back into baseball form. Hobgood is a great person, and I think fans need to remember that it is not his fault that the Orioles took him so high in the draft. He does not receive any press because he most likely does not end up starting at all. He has a sturdy frame and the “looks” of a potential starter, but his role may be best as a power arm out of a bullpen. Unfortunately, those guys do not receive that much buzz.
If the O’s could sign one of their upcoming free agents (Hardy, Wieters, Davis) to a long-term extension this spring which one would like to see them go after?
I would go after Davis. Wieters can only stay at catcher for so long and nearly all of his value is tied up in catching right now. If he has to move, his defensive value and offensive value go way down. Wieters’ hitting is decent for a catcher, at any other position it would not suffice. Replacing Wieters could be difficult, but the drafting of numerous catchers last year and the resurgence of Michael Ohlman gives me a little hope of replacing him in house. Hardy is the more difficult one to decide. I wrote an article here on Hardy’s future. I think he is close to decline and I do not want to pay for his declining years. However, finding his replacement may be harder. Machado can slide to shortstop, but then there is no third baseman. Maybe Schoop could move to third but then Flaherty is the second baseman moving forward. Free agency is always an option, but not necessarily a popular one for the Orioles. However, the replacements for either Wieters or Hardy could work.
So I would extend Davis. He will be the hardest to replace. The Orioles have struggled for years, as many teams have, to find a true power hitting first baseman. I believe in the power with Davis and his growth last year. His extension would likely be the most expensive, but I believe that you get the most value out of his theoretical contract and pay for more prime years than with the others
Would you take Ubaldo Jimenez or “another, if it were possible” Hunter Harvey.
Another question obviously asked previously to the signing, however still a question with some merit. It is interesting because of the caliber of prospect Hunter Harvey is. One, he is a high school draftee, meaning any impact he will make on the major league team will be at least two years from now. Secondly, he has so little experience in the minor leagues that knowing how he will respond to better competition is left up to scouting alone. Lastly, as the risk is with all pitchers, his shoulder could implode and he could never be the same pitcher again. On the other hand, the crazy high upside and the theoretical cheapness of a top of the rotation starter is very enticing, which is why the Orioles were so reluctant to give up the draft pick all along. However, I would take Ubaldo Jimenez with this team. This current core of highly talented position players is likely to only be completely intact for this season and the next. Jimenez is needed in order to take advantage of that talent right now. The rotation needs the upside of Jimenez. If he reaches that upside the Orioles are strong playoff contenders this year and next and losing that draft pick is totally worth it in my baseball world.