Predict the future -- Greg Miclat

Earlier this week, we talked about left-handed pitcher Troy Patton. Most readers agreed that it is going to be difficult for the 6-foot-1, 185-pound starting pitcher to overcome the torn labrum in his throwing shoulder, but they still believe he'll have a future with the Orioles.

Like I said, Patton is going to have to prove he's healthy before I pencil him into the organization's long-term plans. As many people pointed out, the 23-year-old starting pitcher compiled solid numbers in the minor leagues before injuring his shoulder. If he's able to make a full recovery, Patton could wind up having the best career out of the five players acquired for shortstop Miguel Tejada in December 2007. Still, I wouldn't be counting on him as a major contributor at this point, especially with the abundance of pitching prospects in the upper levels of the Orioles' minor league system. With low expectations about his performance, it will be an added bonus if Patton excels.

As one reader mentioned, the lack of starting pitchers in the major leagues for the Orioles should be enough to force the organization to give Patton an opportunity. That's a good observation, but I think his health should be the team's top priority. It remains to be seen how the Orioles will deal with Patton, but I think it's best for the team to be cautious.

On the Facebook fan page for O's on Deck, one person said he'd like to see "Predict the future" features on L.J. Hoes, Xavier Avery and Greg Miclat. Since I think it's great to give the fans what they want, today's discussion will be about Miclat. We can talk about Hoes and Avery sometime soon, but I wanted to focus on Miclat today because I've seen him play in person. Remember, don't hesitate to facilitate discussion on the Facebook fan page because, like today, we can always continue that conversation as part of a blog entry.

When I first saw the 5-foot-9, 175-pound infielder play for the short-season Single-A Aberdeen IronBirds last season, my first reaction was to make a comparison to Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts. Many analysts and scouts have also made a similar connection between the two players, so I'm not alone in this observation. They are almost exactly the same size, and both players are switch-hitting middle infielders who are known for their speed. Like Roberts, a permanent shift from shortstop to second base could be in Miclat's future.

One advantage, however, that Roberts has over Miclat is power -- even if the Orioles second baseman isn't known for that characteristic. Miclat didn't hit any home runs in three seasons at the University of Virginia, and he failed to collect any in limited action as a member of the Orioles' minor league system in 2008.

While it's not a requirement to be able to hit home runs in order to have a career in the major leagues, it certainly would be nice for Miclat to build up his strength and add that element to his game. When I watched him with the IronBirds, the 21-year-old infielder showed the potential to be able to hit the ball effectively into the gaps. Miclat only collected two doubles for Aberdeen, but he hit 33 doubles in 168 career games in college.

With his speed -- 83 stolen bases in 97 attempts at Virginia -- Miclat will be able to take an extra base on a lot of hits, turning singles into doubles and doubles into triples.

Miclat hit .291 with six RBIs and nine runs scored in 16 games for Aberdeen last season. The Orioles' fifth-round pick in the 2008 MLB draft also had three stolen bases in five attempts for the IronBirds. He was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored in one game for the rookie-level Bluefield Orioles before being promoted to Aberdeen.

Apparently, according to this article in The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, Va.), Miclat is learning that it's not necessarily bad to play in the Orioles' minor league system.

Miclat will likely start the 2009 season in Single-A, but it's unclear if he'll be playing for the Delmarva Shorebirds or Frederick Keys. I think there's a greater chance that he'll begin the year with the Shorebirds, but the Orioles might choose to push him along quickly and assign him to Frederick. I'm not sure what the organization's plans are for Miclat, but it's probably best to let him work on a few things in Delmarva.

The Orioles will let Miclat play with the Shorebirds in 2009, in my opinion, similar to how they handled outfielder Matt Angle last season. Angle, who was selected in the seventh round of the 2007 MLB draft, hit .287 with four home runs and 35 RBIs in 126 games for Delmarva in 2008. Angle also had 22 doubles, 82 runs scored and 37 stolen bases as a member of the Shorebirds. In fact, I'm going to predict similar statistics for Miclat with Delmarva in 2009.

With that said, Miclat will turn 22 in July and he played for three years in the Atlantic Coast Conference, so the infielder already has more experience than a lot of other prospects in the South Atlantic League. It's a tough call on what is the best scenario to further Miclat's career with the Orioles.

How many people are familiar with Miclat? Do you think he'll eventually replace Roberts with the Orioles? Are you concerned that he seems to lack power, or does his speed and switch-hitting ability make up for it? Where do you think Miclat should play in 2009?


Check out previous installments of "Predict the future" by clicking on the links below:

Jake Arrieta

Brad Bergesen

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