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O's minor leaguers in '09 -- Shortstops

Wow, did anyone watch the American League Central tiebreaker between the Twins and Tigers tonight? What an amazing game between division rivals.

That's the perfect example of exciting playoff baseball. I hope the rest of the games are that good. In case you missed it, the Twins won in 12 innings.

Anyway, let's get to the next installment of my positional rankings for the 2009 season.

Today, we'll talk about shortstops.

Remember, this isn't necessarily a list of prospects. There are plenty of those kind of lists which are composed by people who get paid a lot of money -- OK, maybe not a lot -- to analyze the prospect status of players.

I'm just here to provide news about the minor leaguers in the organization, so my lists are focusing on several factors. The performance of the players in 2009 and potential to help the Orioles in the major leagues are key considerations.

I admit that I'm not perfect, which is why I'm asking everyone to include their lists in the comments below each entry.

There are a lot of diehard fans around the country who are passionate about the Orioles. I'm sure everyone can provide excellent analysis about the players in the organization, so let's hear your opinions.

In the organization, there are a lot of marginal players at the shortstop position. None of the players really shined above the others this season. It's difficult to rank the players because everyone struggled for the most part in 2009.

Here is how I would rank the top five shortstops in the Orioles' minor league system.1. Pedro Florimon Jr.

2. Blake Davis

3. Garabez Rosa

4. Moises Ciriaco

5. Greg Miclat

Florimon earns the top spot because he played well during the early part of the season. The 22-year-old infielder represented the Single-A Frederick Keys in the California/Carolina League All-Star Game.

Overall, Florimon batted .259 with nine home runs and 69 RBIs in 122 games while splitting time between the Keys and Double-A Bowie Baysox. He hit .267 in 115 games for Frederick before going 2-for-22 (.091) in seven games with Bowie at the end of the season.

After only batting .223 with no home runs and 19 RBIs in 81 games for the Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds in 2008, Florimon showed flashes of offensive potential this season. He finished tied for fourth in the Carolina League with 32 doubles and sixth in the league with 76 runs scored. Florimon was also third on the Keys in RBIs and tied for third on the team in home runs.

Florimon needs to improve his defense, however, if the Orioles expect him to make a contribution in the major leagues. He committed 36 errors, including 35 in Frederick, during the 2009 season. There's no way to spin that statistic in a positive manner.

Davis is the closest to the major leagues among the shortstops in the organization, but he took a step back due to a stress fracture in his left foot during spring training.

After batting .320 with one home run and five RBIs in 13 games on an injury rehabilitation assignment with the short-season Single-A Aberdeen IronBirds, Davis joined the Triple-A Norfolk Tides.

The 25-year-old shortstop slumped at the Triple-A level. He hit .211 with one home run and 14 RBIs in 55 games for the Tides. Davis scored 21 runs with Norfolk this season.

Davis committed 14 errors in 68 games this season. In my opinion, he's not as bad defensively as the numbers might lead you to believe. Still, the errors need to be eliminated.

Rosa is the youngest of the players on the list, which gives him more time to prove that he'll be able to help in the major leagues at some point in the future. His power potential is intriguing, but the rest of his statistics this season need to improve.

The young shortstop, who will turn 20 on Oct. 12, only batted .206 with seven home runs and 30 RBIs in 75 games with the Shorebirds and IronBirds in 2009.

Rosa hit .125 (4-for-32) with one home run and five RBIs in 11 games for Delmarva earlier this season before batting .218 with a team-leading six home runs and 25 RBIs in 64 games for Aberdeen. He also finished tied for second in the New York-Penn League with six triples and added eight doubles and 28 runs scored for the IronBirds.

Ciriaco is a player to watch as he progresses through the organization.

The 21-year-old shortstop batted .261 with one home run and 19 RBIs in 51 games for the Rookie-level GCL Orioles this season. He finished tied for seventh in the Gulf Coast League with 14 stolen bases and second on the Orioles with 26 runs scored.

I'm going to pick Miclat in the final spot on my rankings.

The biggest knock against the 22-year-old shortstop is that power isn't in his vocabulary. Miclat hasn't hit a home run at the college or professional level, and I'm not sure if he has ever hit one.

His speed, however, is a major asset for the organization. The Orioles' fifth-round selection in the 2008 MLB draft collected 26 stolen bases -- including 25 for the Shorebirds -- this season. Miclat batted .228 with 14 doubles, 49 runs scored and 22 RBIs in 111 games for Delmarva before playing in six games for the Keys.

How would you rank the top five players?

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