Here’s a list of what I feel is now the top 10 prospects in the O’s farm system. It’s a good time to take a look at a revised list after the promotions of Matt Wieters, David Hernandez, Brad Bergesen, Nolan Reimold, Chris Tillman, Brian Matusz, Kam Mickolio and Jason Berken.
There is plenty of good news. The farm system is extremely rich in pitching talent, and a former top prospect in Houston’s organization barely cracks our top 10. The bad news is the lack of top position prospects. Four made the top 10 list, but there is a real lack of depth among hitters in the system.
1. Josh Bell – I love this guy. He projects as a stud at third base, a guy who can really rake from the left side of the plate and who can become an outstanding defensive player as well. He hits for a lot of power. My only concern with him is his poor numbers from the right side of the plate. Why not just hit left-handed all the time? The hot corner should be set for years once he makes his major league debut. I know I’m a lot higher on him than most, but I really like his power.
2. Zach Britton – Britton has been solid at Frederick and should fill Matusz’ spot in Bowie when/if he is promoted to Norfolk or Baltimore. I love how this guy keeps the ball on the ground.
3. Brandon Snyder – The first baseman tore the cover off of the ball in Bowie but has had major struggles at Norfolk. He needs to start showing a little bit more power. Hopefully a full season in Triple-A will have him ready for the majors by 2011.
4. Matt Hobgood – The 2009 first round pick struggled in a few appearances with Bluefield last season, but it doesn’t really matter. The first year or so he spends in the minor leagues is all about getting a kid who just graduate high school comfortable in the organization.
5. Jake Arrieta – Some believe Arrieta to have the highest ceiling among the team’s top pitching prospects. He has slipped a little in my book, as the 24-year old didn’t exactly tear up Triple-A. I like his confidence, but I’d like to see some results that back up the attitude.
6. Caleb Joseph – The catcher’s big year at Frederick has some thinking he will push Matt Wieters and his large frame to first base in a few years. I’m not sure it will happen that quickly, but imagine Joseph as Wieter’s backup. Wow.
7. Brandon Erbe – Erbe continues to battle injuries, but he pitched well at Bowie last year when he was healthy. I think this is a pivotal year to see if he can get close to a major league promotion. It’s also time to find out whether he is going to be a starter or a late-inning reliever at the next level
8. Troy Patton – The pitcher surprised everyone with his early success at Bowie coming off of serious arm surgery, but things went downill after a promotion to Norfolk. It will probably take him almost another full season at Triple-A to get back to the pitcher he used to be, if he ever does.
9. Brandon Waring – The third baseman cracks the top 10 after a monster season at Single-A Frederick. He has a huge bat and his plate discipline and walk-to-strikeout rate improved last year. He will start this year at Double-A Bowie and will likely remain there the entire season unless he puts up ridiculous numbers. I don’t see that happening.
10. Chorye Spoone – Spoone remains in the top 10 after recovering from a serious arm operation. He managed to get some innings in at Single-A Frederick before the end of the season and held his own. The right-hander will begin there or at Double-A Bowie in 2010 and still has the chance to move quickly through the system if he can regain his prior form.
Honorable Mention: Billy Rowell, Matt Angle, L.J. Hoes, Xavier Avery, Chorye Spoone, Radhamas Liz, Bobby Bundy, Tyler Townsend, Pedro Beato, Tim Bascom, Justin Turner, Richard Zagone