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  • Nov

    2013 Number six prospect: Michael Ohlman

    Written by Lee Tackett and Tony Pente

    #6  - Michael Ohlman - C
    Ht Wt  Bats Throws Born Draft
    6-4 205 R R  12/14/90 11th Rd (2009)

    Scouting Grades - Definitions

    Current 3 Most Likely 5 Ceiling 6
    Major League Target Date


    2013 Stats - Full stats

    Fre 424 29 4 13 53 5 0 56 93 .313 .410 .524 .934 7.6 4.6

    Bio: At the beginning of the 2013 season, Ohlman looked to be just another disappointing member of the horrific 2009 draft class. He sputtered during the first two weeks of the season before missing over a month with a shoulder injury; however, when he returned near the end of May, he went on a hitting tear consistent with his $995,000 bonus. He finished the season with a .313/.410/.524 slash line, earned himself a position on the taxi squad for the Arizona Fall League, and put himself back on the Orioles radar as a prospect. He improved dramatically in all offensive categories and showed a new dedication to being proactive with his pitching staff.

    Hitting/Running: In his fourth professional season, Ohlman showed the ability to make adjustments during the course of the season and it showed in his offensive production. He had the best average in the Carolina League and demonstrated the ability to hit to all fields. Most of his power came to left and straight away center, but he can drive the ball to right center in batting practice. His hitting mechanics should protect him from prolonged slumps, as he has a simple approach and solid plate discipline. On the negative side, he struck out in 22 % of his plate appearances; however, some may have stemmed from being too selective at the plate and questionable A-ball strike zones. Ohlman’s build and swing path suggest he should continue to develop his power stroke and his deciding factor at the plate will be making contact. He takes pride in improving as an offensive player and does well applying coaching. Ohlman is surprisingly athletic for a catcher, but the organization has never experimented with him anywhere outside of first base.

    Defense/Intangibles: There are very real questions whether or not Ohlman can continue to play catcher. His arm is not the issue as he threw out 29 % of base stealers in 2013 and consistently had pop times at or below 2.0. Ohlman’s issues come as a receiver, some mechanical, others focus based. He has an imposing frame behind the plate, but moves his feet poorly and has trouble reacting and squaring up balls to block. Ohlman usually has a few drops a night and needs to improve his receiving. He handles the pitching staff fairly well and was more vocal with his pitchers during the course of games. Despite his struggles, he sometimes showed a lack of interest in catching bullpens and needs to put as much into his defensive preparation as his offensive preparations. The Orioles treated him with kid gloves behind the plate with his catching in just 46 of 100 games. Despite the small workload, he committed nine errors and eight passed balls. His work ethic on the field is largely unquestioned and hopefully his 2012 suspension for a drug of abuse was the result of a young person’s mistake, but it is something that must be mentioned.

    Conclusion: Though Henry Urrutia was dubbed the organization’s minor league hitter of the year, Ohlman’s may have been more impressive from a prospect standpoint. With off the field issues largely behind him, Ohlman hit for average and power in 2013 and save for a seemingly freak shoulder injury, showed durability different from his previous seasons. Ohlman will likely be the starting catcher at Bowie in 2014 and must show improvements defensively to prove he can stay behind the plate. Ohlman’s strikeout rate is concerning, but if he is able to continue walking and doing damage with his swings, as long as he maintains the rate, he will still be productive. Scouting opinions vary on his future offensive ability ranging from solid every day regular to back up guy, but most feel he will need to continue to improve defensively he wants to stay behind the plate in anything other than a back up role. If Ohlman doesn’t “get it” defensively in 2014, the organization would do well to see if his bat could carry him at first or in a corner outfield position. He moves well enough and has enough arm strength to be tried in right field and that very well may be his future role if it doesn't work behind the plate.

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