Last week’s deal between the Chicago Cubs and Oakland Athletics, which sent pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland for a prospect package that included top 10 prospect Addison Russell, kicked off baseball's trade season in spectacular fashion. This week, we’ll go through the Orioles system level by level and highlight players of value who could have new homes by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline if the Orioles want to make a move.
Like the Orioles' Triple-A affiliate in Norfolk, the Orioles Double-A affiliate in Bowie has a handful of valuable players amid a lineup of veteran minor leaguers and organizational filler. You don’t need to look farther than some of the team’s Eastern League All-Star selections -- outfielder Dariel Alvarez, first baseman Christian Walker, and left-hander Tim Berry -- to get a good idea in which players other teams might be interested.
As I’ve written multiple times this year, Walker and Alvarez are two of the best hitters in the system. Both got off to scorching hot starts, with Walker sitting at .206/.366/.536 with 20 home runs and 76 RBIs, and Alvarez at .310/.333/.497 with 14 home runs, 20 doubles, and 67 RBIs for the Baysox.
Alvarez has developed some buzz in the scouting community for his quick bat and ability to generate power, with one American League scout calling him one of the biggest sleepers in baseball. Walker has the ability to barrel up a baseball, and he has found the power stroke required of a first baseman.
My personal preference list would place Alvarez over Walker, though either could be a secondary piece in a larger deal. I doubt either would fetch a ton on his own. But the fact that they are among the top three or four hitting prospects in the system, yet are no more than the second piece in a big deal, is a bigger indictment of the system itself than the players.
There are several young, interesting pitchers, headlined by left-handers Berry and Eduardo Rodriguez. Berry is a projectable 23-year-old with a low-90s fastball, a curveball and a changeup who was added to the 40-man roster last fall. He’s 4-5 with a 4.04 ERA, and he still has intriguing upside if a team is willing to wait on him to fully develop.
Rodriguez can locate a low-90s fastball and 83-84 mph breaking ball, and he has a feel for a changeup, but none of the pitches grade out as above average. Last year, he was considered in the same category with Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman as a player unlikely to be traded, and he still probably is considering he’s in his age 21 season in Double-A.
But while Bundy and Gausman would likely be the centerpiece in a big, major league deal, Rodriguez probably finds himself right on the fringe of A- and B-level prospect entering this deadline.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun