Primer Addendum: Baltimore Orioles
By Jake Seiner/MiLB.com
Our Prospect Primer series continued today at MiLB.com with the AL East, including my look at the Baltimore Orioles farm system. Among those highlighted were Hunter Harvey, Eduardo Rodriguez and Branden Kline. Here are some more thoughts on those and more players from the O’s organization.
Dylan Bundy, Right-Handed Pitcher
Bundy’s recovery from Tommy John surgery is going well, according to Orioles director of player development Brian Graham. Bundy is “doing great,” by Graham’s estimation, progressing through his throwing program on schedule with what the team anticipated.
At this point, Graham and the Orioles are projecting Bundy to return to Minor League action by June. When he returns, he’ll likely start in the Gulf Coast League and work his way up from there, with the team determining his ultimate full-season assignment once they get a look at how he’s throwing.
Hunter Harvey, Right-Handed Pitcher
On the mound, Harvey has worked extensively on a developing circle changeup. The right-hander didn’t need the offspeed pitch in high school, and after he signed, he worked with Orioles pitching instructors on a changeup grip. He settled on the circle change, and has spent the past eight or so months trying to get a better feel for the pitch and how it should leave his hand.
Further developing that pitch is a primary focus for Harvey this year. That said, the hurler expects to make most of his improvements in side sessions, with Baltimore instructing him to pitch competitively in game situations. The approach differs from that of other teams, like the Pirates, who induce pitchers to throw developing pitches in games, even if they have other offerings that may allow for more immediate success.
“When I’m out on the mound, I’m just going to pitch to get outs,” Harvey said. “I’m going to work on it more in the bullpen. I feel like I can get outs and strike guys out and help the team.”
Tim Berry, Left-Handed Pitcher
Berry will open 2014 with Double-A Bowie, where he’ll be joined in the rotation by prospects Eduardo Rodriguez and Zach Davies.
Berry underwent Tommy John surgery before the Orioles selected him in the 50th round of the 2009 Draft. Last year, the left-hander began to show big returns for the O’s on that investment. He posted a 3.85 ERA in 27 starts with Class A Advanced Frederick, striking out 119 and walking 40 over 152 innings.
The hurler’s fastball velocity spiked last season thanks to improved health and strength added to his 6-foot-3 frame. After succeeding with the Keys, Berry went to the Arizona Fall League and amassed a 1.84 ERA in seven appearances.
“He’s been a great story because the velocity has jumped over the last couple of years,” Graham said. “He’s a young pitcher who has matured into the starting pitcher that he is. The AFL was great for him. He went to the AFL and was able to compete with really good hitters up there. Tim Berry has a quick arm and a sharp, hard breaking ball and his changeup has probably made the most improvement of all three pitches.”
Chance Sisco, Catcher
Baltimore is very pleased with what it’s seen from Sisco thus far. The high school shortstop has only been catching a short time, but the O’s think his skill set and mentality are both translating well behind the plate.
“He has the tools,” Graham said. “He has good hands, has the athleticism behind the plate. He has a very good mind for the game of baseball. He’s an intelligent kid, very perceptive. He follows the game, understands the game.”
Sisco is more advanced offensively, something he showcased with a .371/.475/464 slash line in 31 Gulf Coast League games in 2013.
“There’s pureness to his swing,” Graham said. “He’s left-handed and has an understanding of the strike zone. He gets his bat into the zone and stays through the hitting zone. He has the ability to work in the middle of the field or to go the other way. He’s very mature for a 19-year-old.”
Josh Hart, Center Fielder
The O’s plucked Hart with the 37th overall pick in the 2013 Draft, projecting the lanky, 6-foot-1 outfielder to play solid defense in center with promise in his bat. Hart struggled in the GCL in 2013 and could take a while to develop — even more so than the average high school draftee — but his tools are substantial enough that the upside at the end of that journey could be big.
“I think Josh Hart is going to be a late bloomer,” Graham said. “He’s a guy who, every year, is going to get better and better. He looked tired near the end of instructs last year, but he’s come back this spring and there’s life on the ball coming off his bat, more bat speed. He’s impressed us this spring.”
Ofelky Peralta, Right-Handed Pitcher
The Orioles made waves by giving Peralta a massive bonus to sign last fall and brought the 16-year-old in for a stateside look this spring. The team’s been impressed by his stuff and projectibility and will keep him in extended spring training before deciding whether he’s ready for the GCL. If not, he’ll head back to the Dominican Republic, from which he hails, and play in the Dominican Summer League.
“It’s a great body, very good arm, very good makeup, good delivery for a young kid,” Graham said. “The ball comes out of his hand very well. He’s going to be a fun young pitcher to watch develop.”
Travis Seabrooke and Danny Ayers, Left-Handed Pitchers
Two southpaws selected in the 2013 Draft have both been pleasant surprises this spring.
Seabrooke, selected in the fifth round out of Ontario, is a lanky 6-foot-5 and oozes projection. The Orioles are hoping he adds velocity to his average fastball with time. The left-hander was a longshot to earn a spot on a full-season roster, but could be a breakout candidate when the short-season leagues begin.
Ayers is in the same boat schedule-wise, although his stuff has been a tick better. The left-hander flashed mid-90s heat and a solid curve as a high school senior, but he was inconsistent in his performance and fell to the 25th round in the Draft. Baltimore signed him for well above slot and has been encouraged by the strides he’s made as a pro thus far.
“They’re both young left-handers, still 18 years old, and they both have a chance to be starting pitchers,” Graham said. “They both came into Spring Training in great shape, throwing the ball well. It’s been fun to watch. They’re young pitchers who have a chance to be pretty good.”