In the professional baseball world, this time of year is set aside for free agency wrapping up, beginning preparations for Spring Training, and one of the more fun and debatable "lists" comes out as MLB.com unveils their top ranked prospects for the 2014 season. The Baltimore Orioles and Executive VP/GM Dan Duquette have been trying to build organizational depth ever since Duquette took the job, and the presence of several Orioles organizational players in top prospect lists, shows that the depth is beginning to build.
MLB.com is still in the process of unveiling each position, but the Orioles have already made their presence known on three of the top ten positional lists.
Today, the second base list was revealed and as expected, Baltimore's Jonathan Schoop cracked the top ten coming in as the sixth ranked second base prospect in all of baseball. Schoop had a good campaign in 2013 as he combined to hit .278 with 14 homers, 14 doubles and 52 RBI across three minor league affiliates, but mostly at AAA Norfolk. He also got a taste of the show as the Orioles called him up in September and he delivered in grand fashion as he went deep in his MLB debut, and played in five games for the Orioles, while hitting .286 with one homer, one RBI and scored five runs.
Schoop was not ranked among the top ten second base prospects in 2013, but was the fifth ranked prospect in the Orioles organization last year according to MLB.com and Jonathan Mayo.
When it comes to the top ranked right handed pitchers list, it came as no surprise than an Oriole showed up on the list, and despite having Tommy John surgery last season, Dylan Bundy came in as the eighth ranked right handed pitching prospect in baseball. Bundy did not pitch in a competitive game in 2013, and has targeted June 28 as his goal to pitch in a competitive game this season, but there is no denying the potential he has and his abilities keep him in the top ten.
Last season, Bundy came in as the sixth ranked right handed pitching prospect, and was one spot behind fellow Oriole Kevin Gausman. He may have been ranked fifth last season, but Gausman did not crack the top ten this year, and is likely because he struggled a bit in the big leagues and may have developed some doubters. Gausman will be in contention for the fifth spot in the starting rotation for the Birds in 2014 and will look to prove the new naysayers wrong.
Lastly, the Orioles also got some love in the left handed pitching prospects list with Eduardo Rodriguez being named the sixth best prospect in baseball among left handed pitchers. Rodriguez continues to move up the ranks as he was ranked seventh last season among left handers. Eduardo had a good 2013 campaign producing a 10-7 record with a 3.41 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP in 25 starts among High-A Frederick and AA Bowie. Many feel that Rodriguez is still a year away from making his presence known in the big leagues, but if he gets off to a hot start in 2014, it is not inconceivable that E-Rod could be called up at some point this season.
MLB.com still has two top tens to unveil (outfield and third base) before revealing their highly acclaimed top 100 overall prospects list on Thursday. The Orioles made a splash in 2012 when Bundy was named the second best prospect in baseball behind Jurickson Profar, and although Bundy has drifted back a little bit, the future does look bright for the Orioles. We expect four Orioles to make the top 100 in Rodriguez, Schoop, Bundy and Gausman, with perhaps a fifth in 2013 first round pick Hunter Harvey.
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