The Baltimore Orioles saw their run of three postseason appearances in five years come to an end in 2017, as a late-season skid dropped the club to the bottom of the American League East standings. The team's yearlong struggles started and ended with its starting rotation, which as a whole
The Baltimore Orioles saw their run of three postseason appearances in five years come to an end in 2017, as a late-season skid dropped the club to the bottom of the American League East standings. The team's yearlong struggles started and ended with its starting rotation, which as a whole posted a 5.70 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP, both Major League-worsts.
• Orioles' Top 30 Prospects list
There were bright spots, though. The Orioles' offense proved to be a force once again, ranking fourth in the American League in average (.260) and fifth in home runs (232). On the mound, former top prospects Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy both stayed healthy and furthered their development en route to finishing first and second on the club in innings pitched.
:: Team Top 30 Prospects lists ::
After bursting onto the scene late in 2016, Trey Mancini, Baltimore's No. 5 prospect at this time last year, established himself as the team's everyday left fielder, while slashing .293/.338/.488 with 24 home runs to finish third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting. On top of that, Orioles' fans got a look at the future in September with the promotions of outfielder Austin Hays, a 2016 third-rounder who enjoyed a meteoric rise through the Minors, catcher Chance Sisco and flame-throwing lefty Tanner Scott.
That promising trio will all compete for jobs during Spring Training, and they could soon be joined in the Majors by a host of other Orioles prospects. Of the players featured on the club's preseason Top 30, 12 are projected to reach the big leagues in 2018.
Meanwhile, the Orioles' ongoing rotation woes -- they haven't posted a sub-4.53 ERA since 2014 -- have driven the organization's pitching-heavy approach in recent Drafts, with the goal of building around Bundy, Gausman and whoever else may emerge. That trend is underscored by the presence of 18 pitchers on the Orioles' 2018 Top 30 Prospects list, seven of whom are products of the club's 2016-17 Drafts.
Yet, the Orioles' stockpiling of pitching prospects also has left the club with few impact position prospects, especially those capable of staying at an up-the-middle position. It's a deficiency that Baltimore will be forced to address through trades and in future Drafts, as it continues to have zero presence on the international scene.
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2017 preseason list to the 2018 preseason list:
Jump: Brenan Hanifee, RHP (2017: 30 | 2018: 10)
Fall: Jomar Reyes, 3B (2017: 10 | 2018: 21)
Players are graded on a 20-80 scouting scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average. Players in parentheses have the same grade.
Hit: 60 -- Austin Hays (Chance Sisco)
Power: 60 -- Austin Hays
Run: 60 -- Cedric Mullins (Adam Hall, Lamar Sparks)
Arm: 70 -- Lamar Sparks
Defense: 60 -- Mason McCoy
Fastball: 80 -- Tanner Scott
Curveball: 60 -- Hunter Harvey (Pedro Araujo)
Slider: 55 -- Tanner Scott (Keegan Akin, Mike Baumann)
Changeup: 55 -- Alex Wells (Chris Lee, Luis Gonzalez)
Control: 60 -- Alex Wells
How they were built
Free agent: 2
Rule 5: 2
Breakdown by ETA
Breakdown by position
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.