they need to produce.
The organization is counting on the top level of prospects today to help the team win today and in the future. In doing so, it encourages other teams to deal with us. Their success equals the O's ability to sell the lower level prospects in different trade scenarios. Other teams will be more apt to deal with a successful team in terms of developing their minor leaguers. Therefore, in an attempt to solidify needs at the major league level, the O's will need to trade from it's depth at all levels of the minor leagues. In other words, use the depth players as "trade bait."
There has been alot of talk of how deep the Orioles minor league pitching goes. Baltimore, for as long as I can recall, has never had three pitching prospects and four overall prospects in the minor league's top 50 overall. Well, a new age in Baltimore history has dawned. The minor league system in it's entirety is one of baseball's best. A far cry from just two years ago. And although we got a little help via trade, most are home grown talents. Here's a look at the top prospects and others who will in one way or another rebuild the Orioles franchise into the proud organization it once was.
Matt Wieters is the concensious number one O's prospect. He ranks #1 in Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus, #2 in the Scouting Book and MiLB, and #3 in TSN. He's a stud hitter and fielder at the catcher position that is usually weak at one or the other. He's big, powerful and switch hits. He'll be playing in Camden Yards and hitting in the middle of the line-up on a regular basis before the all star break this year.
Chris Tillman is the Orioles number two rated prospect and is listed as high as #5 overall in the Scouting Book to as low as #33 in TSN. He is the only one of the top four that came from another organization. He was originally drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the second round of the 2006 June draft. He came to Baltimore in the Erik Bedard trade prior to the 2008 baseball season. He projects as a solid top three rotation pitcher and should be up with the big league club this season.
The Orioles had such great regard for their third best overall prospect, Brian Matusz, that they signed him to a major league contract right out of college. Baseball Prospectus ranks him at a best #19 overall and the Scouting Book has him at a low at #34. He is a powerful left hander who has enough poise to succeed in the majors now. He will get his regular rotation spot in 2010.
Jake Arrieta is number four on the Orioles prospect list. He rates as high as #36 in MiLB and as low as #67 in Baseball America. But like Wieters, Tillman and Matusz ahead of him, he grades out into the top 50 overall. Jake has ace potential and should be a permanent member of the O's rotation sometime in 2010.
The previous four O's prospects are top 50, but the Orioles have others that will impact the future of Birds baseball as well. Outfielders Nolan Reimold and Lou Montanez are ready to be productive now, while Matt Angle, power hitting Billy Rowell and speedster Xavier Avery are right behind them. The infield position is somewhat thin in numbers, but offers hope in Brandon Snyder, Brandon Waring, Justin Turner, Elvin Polanco, Tyler Hensen and Jerome Hoes. And future pitching stars may include Pedro Beato, Chorye Spoone, Zach Britton, David Hernandez, Troy Patton, Jason Berken, Justin Moore, Jake Renshaw, Bobby Bundy, Richard Zagone and Brad Bergesen who was the first of the young arms to be called up.
For Orioles fans everywhere, the excitement of what's about to happen in Baltimore is almost overwhelming. For a fan base that has waited more than a decade to see Peter Angelos put a competitive product back on the field, it's almost tearful. For those of us who saw the Orioles dynasty in the late 1960's and early 1970's, it's a history we'd like to see repeated.