The Orioles received a lot of love in MLB.com's Top 50 Prospects list, which was released this week. The Web site announced 10 players on each day this week, starting at No. 50. Four players from the team's minor league system were selected, including catcher Matt Wieters at No. 2. Tampa Bay Rays left-hander David Price was picked in the top spot.
Joining Wieters in the rankings from the organization were pitchers Chris Tillman (No. 16), Brian Matusz (No. 20) and Jake Arrieta (No. 36). MLB.com completed a breakdown of each player in the rankings, including statistics, quotes, a scouting report and upside potential.
For Wieters, who was picked in the first round of the 2007 draft, MLB.com mentions the switch-hitting catcher's ability to excel from both sides of the plate, as well as his defensive skills. The report projects Wieters with an upside that should make Orioles fans happy -- an All-Star catcher who can contend for several MVP awards and become the best all-around player at his position.
The Web site discusses Tillman's impressive numbers in the Double-A Eastern League and projects him as a middle- to top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher. The 6-foot-5, 195-pound right-hander, who was acquired in the trade that sent Erik Bedard to the Seattle Mariners, was second among all Double-A pitchers with 154 strikeouts in 2008.
Matusz, who was selected with the fourth overall pick in this year's MLB draft, receives high praise from MLB.com even though he didn't pitch in the organization in 2008. The 21-year-old left-hander had 31 strikeouts and walked seven hitters in 26 2/3 innings during the Arizona Fall League. The report projects Matusz as a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher in the near future. It should be noted that Matusz is ranked higher in the list than all three players selected above him in the 2008 draft, and San Francisco Giants prospect Buster Posey (No. 19) is the only player from this year's draft that is above him.
MLB.com talks about Arrieta's successful season, which included pitching for the U.S. Olympic team in Beijing. The Web site mentions that the 6-foot-4, 225-pound right-hander is working on his secondary pitches, and it ties his future success to the improvement of those pitches.
Switching gears a little bit, Baseball America recently picked its Top 20 prospects from the Arizona Fall League. There shouldn't be much surprise, but Wieters (No. 1) and Matusz (No. 3) were both selected. Wieters batted .301 with one home run and 12 RBIs in 20 games for the Surprise Rafters, and Matusz was 2-4 with a 4.73 ERA in seven games (six starts).
Finally, the Orioles signed several players to minor league contracts over the past couple weeks. Baseball America has the scoop on the players here. The organization re-signed pitchers Gerardo Casadiego, Scott Chiasson and Andy Mitchell, as well as outfielder Mike Rodriguez.
In my opinion, the most interesting signing, however, was 24-year-old catcher Adam Donachie. If your an Orioles fan, you'll remember that the team originally acquired Donachie from the Philadelphia Phillies after he was picked by Philadelphia in the 2006 Rule 5 draft from the Kansas City Royals. A lot of Orioles fans seemed to like him at the time, but the team sent him back to the Royals before the conclusion of spring training. So, is there any excitement that he's back in the organization now?