ON Mailbag 4/28 – 5/4

Welcome to the Orioles Nation Mailbag. If you have future questions, you can submit them here:

All major league questions answered by Alex Conway.
All minor league questions answered by Tucker Blair.

What is the deal with David Lough’s bat? The stats are awful. Is that really worth keeping even if the glove is plus in LF?
David Lough has been frustrating to watch thus far. I had high hopes for him. After watching him in Kansas City, I liked his approach at the plate and loved his defense in the outfield. While he has certainly provided great defense for the Orioles to date, his struggles at the plate have led Buck to play Nelson Cruz and others in left which greatly hampers the outfield defense. Lough has a better walk rate than he did last year, but also a higher strikeout rate. His batted ball numbers are quite bad. He has 14.3% Line Drive rate, a 35.7% groundball rate, and a 50% fly ball rate (for context, last year he had a 22.6% Line Drive rate, 42.0% ground ball rate, and a 35.4% fly ball rate). A 50% fly ball rate puts him near the top of baseball next to power hitters. For a non-power threat, Lough is hitting way too many fly balls. This would assume that he simply is making very poor contact at the plate which is backed up by his plate discipline numbers. He has been making less contact overall, but more contact on pitches outside of the zone. Therefore, he is making contact on pitches he cannot drive. Also, his first strike percentage is 72.7%, which if he qualified, would put him at the very top of the league. He also is seeing an above average amount of fastballs and changeups. It appears that Lough’s lack of power is hurting him at the plate as pitchers are challenging him with fastballs that he seems either unwilling to swing at or unable to hit hard. Lough’s defense remains outstanding, therefore I believe he will remain on the roster as he can play all three outfield positions, but if he does not change his approach at the plate soon, he will start seeing much less playing time.

- Alex Conway

How many games have you been to this year?
Delmarva – 2
Frederick – 5
Bowie – 6
Orioles – 2
Wilmington (Royals) – 1
Maryland – 2

I might be missing a game here and there on my list above, but I have been all over the place to start the year. Bowie and Frederick are the easiest for me to travel, with Delmarva being a hike.
- Tucker Blair

Who is considered the better prospect, Dariel Alvarez or Henry Urrutia, and why?
Here are my personal grades for each, heading into May:

Tool Urrutia Alvarez
Hit 50 40
Power 45 40
Speed 40 50
Glove 50 50
Arm 55 70
OFP 48 50

I have not seen Urrutia since Spring Training, but I find it hard to believe much has changed since then; and he also is on the disabled list. I have watched Alvarez five times now on the young season, including two batting practice sessions.

The ability to play CF is a huge boost in the value of a player, especially if that ability is at least average. I have already mentioned in past mailbag’s that Alvarez’s CF play has been one of the more surprising things that I have witnessed this season. To me, their bats are fairly similar, with both struggling to pick up major-league-caliber spin out of the pitchers’ hand. Just last night I witnessed Alvarez being over-matched and having his knees buckled against RHP Corey Knebel. Knebel is a first round selection that will be in the Tigers’ bullpen very soon.

These two are different players, with Urrutia having a much better approach at the plate and more patience. Alvarez is more of a free swinger and does sell out for power at times, even though he does not have much raw power.
Give me Alvarez as the better prospect, simply because I think the CF play is legitimate, and a 4th OF is more useful if they can field at a supreme position such as CF. Overall, I think the realistic grade for each is a 45, or a 4th OF/Bench player.

- Tucker Blair

About The Author

- Owner and Executive Editor

Tucker began operating Orioles-Nation.com in October 2013. He has been writing and reporting on the Orioles for an extensive period of time, dedicating most of his energy to the minor league side. He is also a member of the Baseball Prospectus Prospect Evaluation Team. Outside of baseball, Tucker also works as a Government Contractor for Contracting Resources Group, Inc. He has appeared as a radio guest on Fox 1370 and WNST 1570. Tucker writes and updates all player reports at Orioles-Nation.com and can be contacted at tuckerblair1989@gmail.com. Follow Tucker on Twitter @TuckerBlairON.