January is the month that might as well be designated as "prospects month" in the world of baseball as almost every baseball website comes out with their top 100 MLB prospects or top 101, top 50 and so on, but the latest list was revealed on Wednesday by ESPN's Keith Law. The Baltimore Orioles planted five prospects on his top 100 list, including four pitchers in the top 50.
Law is a highly regarded evaluator of talent among prospects, much like the experts of Baseball Prospectus are. His top 100 list (click here to view) has Minnesota Twins prospect Byron Buxton at the top, but the Orioles may have the most impressive run on the list with four pitchers in the top 50.
Actually, Law has four O's pitchers in the top 43 prospects in all of baseball with Kevin Gausman coming in at 23, the highest among Orioles' prospects, with Dylan Bundy coming in at 31, Hunter Harvey at 31 and Eduardo Rodriguez at 43.
That is quite an impressive feat for Baltimore considering their dyer need for pitching, and seeing things such as this gives Orioles' fans hope for the future of their pitching staff, but we have all been here before.
Remember back in the mid nineties when the Orioles had three pitchers in the top 100 in Baseball America rankings in Rocky Coppinger, Jimmy Haynes, and Billy Percibal? How did that group turn out?
The next group of arms ranked in the top 100? In 2004, Baseball America had three arms ranked in the top 100 in Adam Lowen, John Maine, and Denny Bautista, and while Maine ended up being a decent pitcher (after he left Baltimore) this group was also, ultimately a failure.
It didn't stop there. From 2008 to 2010, Baltimore had six different guys find themselves in the top 100 of Baseball America's list in Chris Tillman, Brian Matusz, Radhames Liz, Troy Patton, Zach Britton and Jake Arrieta. So this group fared much better than the previous ones, but Tillman has been the only one to make a real contribution as a starting pitcher, and 2014 will show if last season was a one hit wonder or if he is for real. Matusz and Patton have turned into pretty good relievers, and Matusz will attempt to regain a spot in the starting rotation this season. Britton will also be trying to get back into the starting rotation after struggling over the past two years and the Orioles had finally had enough of Arrieta's failures that they traded him to the Chicago Cubs in 2013. Liz, well, is the most invisible pitcher of the group.
Now the new group of Gausman, Bundy, Rodriguez and Harvey are in the organization and hoping to become the most successful of the Orioles pitching cavalries. Of the current group, Orioles fans have already seen Bundy and Gausman make their MLB debuts, and Gausman has a legitimate shot at making the starting rotation in 2014. Bundy could resume pitching in games in late June after undergoing Tommy John surgery last summer. Rodriguez could find himself in Baltimore at some point this season, but most experts believe he needs one more season in the minors to fine tune some mechanics and control, while Harvey, the Orioles' 2013 first round pick, is years away from gracing Camden Yards.
Only time will tell if this new cavalry turns out to be the best one in recent Orioles' history, but one thing is for sure, the prospect experts certainly like the group.
Jonathan Schoop also made Law's top 100 list coming in at number 86.
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