Luke’s Prospect Power Rankings 

May Edition

An updated look at the Orioles top 50 prospects as I see them. I provided a brief write-up for players who are new to the list and notes on select players that moved.

 

For full write-ups on the returning players please check out my top 50 Orioles prospects series.

For comparison, here is the April edition.

 

  1. Austin Hays RF/CF (AA)

Slow start, striking out a lot, finding himself behind in a lot of counts. Power and damage on contact still there, there is reason for concern, but no need to panic. Has played well in CF as well as RF. Needs to find his approach.

  1. Chance Sisco C (MLB)

Has been really consistent on throws from behind the plate, still a little slow on the transfer, but a plus, accurate arm have led to success. A lot of swing and miss at the plate, but I think his feel for hitting and bat speed is too good for that to continue long term.

  1. Hunter Harvey RHP (AA)

Stuff has been legit, plus curveball, fastball touching 98-99. Hasn’t been consistent with command and I’ve heard concerns that maybe he’s a closer, not a starter. I’m not ready to go there, I think there is too much athleticism combined with an easy repeatable delivery to not get to average command with reps. Lost developmental time is a real thing.

  1. Ryan Mountcastle 3B/? (AA – DL)
  2. DL Hall LHP (A)

Runs into stretches where he has trouble throwing strikes, but all in all, a strong full season debut so far for the teenage lefty.

  1. Cedric Mullins CF (AA)

Hitting better from the RH side, could shed platoon label.

  1. DJ Stewart LF (AAA)
  2. Keegan Akin LHP (AA)

Missing bats in AA, on track to be a 4/5 starter type.

  1. Tanner Scott LHP (AAA/MLB) +1

Fastball velocity and life is down as he tries to reign it in for more control. Still 95-99 for the left side with an above average slider that can be plus some outings is nothing to sneeze at. The control has improved and he’s ready to kiss the minors goodbye for good.

  1. Zac Lowther LHP (A) +1

Might be the most dominant pitcher in the minors so far this season. Recently missed a start for unknown reasons. Hasn’t really changed his profile though, he just shouldn’t be in Low A, he’s too advanced. I don’t think he’ll be seriously tested until AA.

  1. Alex Wells LHP (A+) -2

Fastball command, the centerpiece of Wells’s arsenal has failed him early this year. Why? I couldn’t tell you, the delivery hasn’t changed, arm speed is good, looks healthy. Just not hitting his spots. For most pitchers, I’d let this go without knocking them, but Wells is so reliant on command and control to profile that this is a bit concerning.

  1. Ryan McKenna CF (A+) +12

One of the biggest movers on this list, McKenna has changed his profile in a number of ways already this year. His swing change from last season has stuck, he’s making more quality contact, fouling off more pitches, taking counts deeper, seeing more pitches, and thus walking more and striking out less. He’s not going to run the crazy batting line he’s had early this season, the BABIP is coming down and he’s not going to walk 13% of the time. However, the reduction in strikeout rate looks real, and that really increases his chances of being an everyday regular. He’s also gotten faster, and his arm looks like it’ll play in CF. Actually he’s the fastest guy in the organization.

  1. Michael Baumann RHP (A) +4

Control has improved, command still spotty and he’s still reliant on a hard to barrel FB in the low to mid 90s and a 55 (above average) slider that could be plus in the future. Still plenty of relief risk, but the floor of his profile is solidifying.

  1. Brenan Hanifee RHP (A) +1
  2. Matthias Dietz RHP (A) +8  

Dietz just continues to improve. Fastball command has improved. He can now throw his slider and changeup around the plate enough that hitters have to swing at them. When they swing at them, they miss. His changeup especially is a weapon, thrown with excellent arm speed it has deceptive late tumble. He has practically doubled his strikeout rate from the 2017 so far this season. He still will throw a meatball from time to time or lose the zone in long ABs, but the improvement has been consistent since he was drafted and I see no reason why it won’t continue. He has the chance for three 55 (above average) or better pitches, a bit more command and you are looking at a rotation piece.

  1. Adam Hall SS (Extended ST) -4
  2. Jomar Reyes 3B/1B (A+) -3

Looks visibly bummed that he’s still in Frederick. I’ve seen frustration, lack of plate discipline, poor hustle, and lackadaisical fielding at times. He didn’t look like that last season. Still all the tools are there, best bat speed on the Frederick team, still young, raw power, rocket of an arm. He’s actually made some really nice first step plays at 3B, and with a little better clock and consistency he might be able to stick there. He just needs to focus and play hard.

  1. Lamar Sparks CF (Extended ST)
  2. Lucas Long RHP (AA)
  3. Cameron Bishop LHP (A)
  4. Cody Sedlock RHP (A+) -5

The former 1st round pick looked terrible in two early season looks. He had non-prospect arm speed and his mechanics were out of whack as he tried to get back to his college delivery. I thought there must be an injury to cause such a slow arm (fastball sitting 88-90). Shortly after he was placed on the DL with a sore shoulder. The shoulder ROM looked free and easy to me, I’m concerned there is an elbow issue at the root of this.

  1. Jhon Peluffo RHP (A+)
  2. Gray Fenter RHP (A) +5

Fenter returned from Tommy John surgery last year, and is now making his full season debut. He’s healthy and his delivery looks streamlined and more repeatable than before the injury. He’s likely a reliever, but he has two legit pitches in his low to mid-90s FB with late rise and a potential plus CB.

  1. David Hess RHP (AAA) +7

Hess appears to have dialed in his consistency issues that have plagued him in the past. He has been routinely commanding his FB so far in AAA. He’s also had his offspeed stuff (highlighted by his slider) show up more often than not. I still think he profiles better as a reliever, but with a starter in Baltimore reaching historical levels of ineptitude, he’ll likely get a chance to audition for a place in the rotation sooner or later.

  1. Nick Vespi LHP (A) +1
  2. Ademar Rifaela COF (AA) -1
  3. Trevor Craport 3B (A) +5

Craport really hasn’t changed his profile any, he’s still a guy with a quick bat and a feel for hitting who only has pull power, but does a really good job of getting to it. The biggest question is whether he’ll be able to get away with his pull-heavy approach as he moves up the ladder. Well he’s one level up, still doing it and striking out even less. That warrants a little bump up this list.

  1. Ofelky Peralta RHP (A+) +1
  2. Brendan Kline (A+) New

Finally healthy again after Tommy John surgery and various setbacks, the former top 10 Orioles prospect Kline is now 26 years old. Pre-injury most scouts saw him as a reliever and the lost time pretty much assures that. That said, he looks good, the arm is fresh and the fastball has touched 98mph. It’s relatively straight, but his high release gives it a good angle. His slider was slow to come along, but it looks like an average pitch now and it could continue to improve. He fills up the strike zone and has been overwhelming to Carolina League hitters. I imagine he’ll be in Bowie or Norfolk soon (he reached AA before his injuries) and could be a bullpen piece in relatively short order.

  1. Pedro Araujo RHP (MLB) +5

He’s had his good and bad moments in the Orioles bullpen. His issue is the same one I wrote about in the offseason, his fastball is just ok, quite hittable and he doesn’t command his offspeed pitches well enough to throw them if he falls behind in the count. He moves up though because he’s added an excellent changeup that misses bats at the MLB level and his breaking ball after losing it’s sharpness in the spring has begun to tighten up.

  1. Austin Wynns C (AAA) +2
  2. Yefry Ramirez RHP (AAA) +2
  3. John Means LHP (AA) -3
  4. Jake Ring OF (A+) -7

Ring has shortened his swing in order to make more contact, which is a necessary change. The problem is that he hasn’t taken to the change yet, he’s not making the quality of contact he did with his old swing. He is striking out less and walking more so far, but hasn’t hit the ball with authority. The tools are still there though.

  1. Seamus Curran 1B/DH (A) +13

Curran showed tantalizing LH power potential before missing most of the 2017 season with a broken kneecap. Curran is a huge dude, but looks to have slimmed down a bit from last season and appears quicker. He’s not going to be a good first baseman due to his size and clunky hands, but he does have enough first step quickness to be ok there. He gets to his power without much effort. He’s still striking out a lot, but he’s young and I think he has a chance to hit enough to get to his power.

  1. Preston Palmeiro 2B (A+) +10

Palmeiro made the rare move up the defensive spectrum, and it looks like he belongs at 2B. There are some mental mistakes and growing pains, but I think he can be at least a fringe defender there which allows his bat to possibly profile. Speaking of his bat, he’s showed an advanced approach and has continued to reduce strikeouts and hit the ball with more authority.

  1. Drew Dosch 3B (AAA) -1
  2. James Teague RHP (A+) -1
  3. Steve Wilkerson Utility (Suspended) -1
  4. Jacob Brown OF (Extended ST) -1
  5. Alexis Torres 2B/SS (Extended ST) -1
  6. Cole Billingsley OF (A+) -1
  7. Mason McCoy SS (A) +1
  8. Jimmy Yacabonis RHP (AAA) -1
  9. Christian Alvarado RHP (A+) New

The stuff is borderline, the FB is 90-92 with just enough wrinkle to not get crushed. There is a 45 (fringe) changeup and a 55 (above average) curveball. When he’s on, he keeps the ball down and moves it in and out to great effect. When he’s not, the lack of stuff bites him. It’s a fine line to walk, but if the command is there consistently, he could be a swingman type.

  1. Luis Gonzalez LHP (AA) +3
  2. Ben Breazeale C/1B (A)
  3. Brian Gonzalez LHP (A+) New

Being the Orioles top pick in the 2014 draft (despite only being a 3rd round pick) has put a bunch of expectations on Gonzalez. He hasn’t lived up to them, but I’m not sure they were reasonable expectations in the first place. So, he’s still only 22 and he’s pitching decently in High A. He’s basically a left handed version of Christian Alvarado with less command in a bigger body. Like Alvarado, the stuff plays when he commands it. Could be a swingman or LOOGY guy if command improves.

  1.  Zach Jarrett RF/LF (A) New

Jumped onto the radar with a huge early season power display, slugging 7 home runs in his first 29 games. Jarrett has a stiff, violent swing and is likely to always strikeout at a high rate. He’s got a maxed body, and is more of a straight line athlete than a quick-twitch one. Not particularly high on him, he’s only ok defensively and the hit tool is suspect, but the in-game power is enough to put him here.

  1. Brenden Becker 2B/SS/3B (A)

 

Dropped out:

 

Nestor Cortes (returned to the Yankees)

Anthony Santander (exhausted rookie eligibility)

Ryan Meisinger RHP (performer not performing)

Lucas Humpal (got a couple bad looks)

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Luke Siler
Luke graduated from Drexel University and is a former Division I athlete. He now resides in NOVA and watches an obscene amount of minor league baseball. In addition to baseball, he enjoys good coffee, good beer, weightlifting, and spending quality time with his wife and daughter.