Thursday, October 9, 2008

Prospect Report: Welcome to the Arizona Fall League

Although the bats in Baltimore may have stopped for a couple weeks, a good number of the young birds are getting right back into the swing (no pun intended) down at the Arizona Fall League. I originally was under the impression that only a few players from the Orioles' farm system would be down there, but a total of eight Orioles minor leaguers will be partaking. Each week I will give updates on their performances, and I'll see if I can squeeze a Report in there while I'm at it. All of the Orioles' prospects will be playing with the Surprise Rafters, and their names are as follows:

-Brandon Snyder (1B)
-Blake Davis (SS)
-Ryan Keefer (RP)
-Brian Matusz (SP)
-Bob McCrory (RP)
-Chad Thall (RP)
-Matt Wieters (C)
-Nolan Reimold (OF)

So who has the most to prove of this bunch? Despite the hype around Brian Matusz and Nolan Reimold's push to make the big leagues, I still believe that Brandon Snyder has the most to prove. He's put up back-to-back superb performances in the Hawaii Winter League and in the Advanced-A Carolina League, but he is still plagued by doubts about consistency and power. There is no doubt about the top-tier prospect status of Wieters and Matusz, and players like Blake Davis, Bob McCrory, and Chad Thall have the advantage of being prospects at positions where the big league club has a glaring need. Brandon Snyder is recovering from fringe-prospect status, and plays a position that could be blocked off by the time he is ready for a jump.

That all being said, all eyes will be (and should be) on Brian Matusz and his performance this fall. They will try to break him in slowly to be sure, but when a team drafts a polished starting pitcher with the fourth overall pick there usually isn't a very long build-up from bullpen to starting. The most exciting thing about having a player like Brian Matusz (not to mention Matt Wieters) in the Fall Leagues is that these aren't just young players who may make the majors four years from now, these are both players who are no more than a year or so away from breaking into the big leagues.

People say that following something as small as the Arizona Fall League is boring and a waste of time. But watching a battery of Brian Matusz and Matt Wieters? That's worth the price of admission.


Mill Grove 8 said...

Blake Davis, Bob McCrory, and Chad Thall have the advantage of being prospects at positions where the big league club has a glaring need - but Keefer doesn't?

Expatriate said...

I think the issue is more that Keefer isn't as close to being major-league-ready as the other three. Personally I don't see Keefer in Baltimore any earlier than Davis, McCrory or Thall- if at all. The other three could help us a lot in a couple years, Keefer would be lucky to.

windsor said...

well, I appreciate your comment but here's where I was coming from: yes, he does play a position of need and yes, he has a good chance of having a major league role in the future. However, Ryan Keefer doesn't qualify as an established prospect in my opinion based on his age, average performance, and overall ceiling.