Orioles low minors thin, but has intriguing pieces for trade purposes

The Orioles' top two picks in the 2014 draft, Hunter Harvey and Josh Hart, are among the pieces they have in the low minors to use for trade purposes.

Though the Orioles keep dropping series and their position entering next week's nonwaiver trade deadline gets more precarious by the day, this is still a team that executive vice president Dan Duquette says will buy at the deadline.

Yesterday, we outlined the trade chips at Triple-A Norfolk and Double-A Bowie, where there are some secondary pieces but nothing to really build a deal around. Still, those are the names that will be bounced around for the next week.


The same really applies for the low minors, where High-A Frederick and Low-A Delmarva's trade chips aren't the kind that on their own can bring in an impact major leaguer but could be combined for some value.

High-A Frederick


Catcher Chance Sisco

Sisco, despite battling injuries for the first half of the season, is the crown jewel of the Orioles system. The 2013 second-round pick is a bat-first, left-handed-hitting catcher whose defense will probably always be questioned, but is improving and will be secondary to his hitting. If the Orioles are truly buyers this month, no player can be off the table, so under that premise, Sisco might be the best they have to offer.

Infielder Jeff Kemp

A local product (Bowie) who can play second, short and third with gap power and good defense, Kemp doesn't get a lot of prospect love, but he's a player scouts talk about after they see him play. They see his defensive versatility and line-drive swing as assets. Kemp won't be a major trade piece, but he's the type who could have impressed a talent evaluator on a Carolina League trip, to the point that they might value him more than the Orioles.

Outfielder Josh Hart

During a Frederick series this year, a veteran scout remarked that Hart reminded him of former Orioles prospect Xavier Avery at this stage in his career, and he wasn't sure if that was a good or bad thing. Avery made it to the big leagues on the merits of his speed and athleticism, but didn't really hit enough to stick anywhere. Hart is batting .261 with a .597 OPS, and you can certainly dream on him, but the Orioles may not want to part with a top pick like him so early.

Left-hander Mitch Horacek

Horacek is a left-hander with a great mind for pitching and the secondary arsenal that leads him to strike out a batter per inning as a starter. Whether his future is as a top-end left-handed reliever or a starter will basically be dictated by how hitters see him at the higher levels, but the Orioles don't really have a ton of lefties of his caliber in the low minors after trading Steven Brault and Stephen Tarpley for Travis Snider. Horacek could be the second piece in a big trade or fetch a major league piece on his own, but he might not be very available.


Right-hander David Hess

Hess has been challenged with his placement in Frederick this year in his first full professional season, and just because he's having a bit of a rough ride in Frederick doesn't mean he's not one of the best arms in the system. Hess' fastball can be overpowering at times, and with refinement of his off-speed pitches, he can stick in a major league rotation. He's one of the Orioles' most tradeable assets, though it's not like he's expendable.

Left-hander Chris Lee

I saw Lee at his worst earlier this season, but have been assured there's more to him than the low-90s fastball and below-average secondaries I saw in June. He has gone at least five innings and allowed two runs or fewer in each of his past five starts, and as an athletic left-hander who works with three pitches, he could be someone the Orioles flip quickly after he was acquired earlier this year from the Houston Astros.

Right-hander Jimmy Yacabonis

Yacabonis was a lights-out closer last year for Low-A Delmarva, but has struggled with his control in both of his stints with Frederick. He's got the stuff and mentality of a back-end reliever, and plenty of teams likely saw him do it last year in Delmarva, but Yacabonis is more a third or fourth piece at this point.


Right-hander Williams Louico

Louico, who has grabbed 100 mph on occasion and sits in the high 90s when he's on, might be the hardest thrower in the system. He has never been able to harness it, though, as evidenced by his career walks-per-nine being a hair under five. He's 25 and probably is a finished product, but someone will always take a flier on that kind of velocity.

Low-A Delmarva

Third baseman Jomar Reyes

Reyes could follow in the footsteps of second baseman Jonathan Schoop as the next international signee the Orioles develop into a potential star. The Dominican third baseman has the best raw power in the entire system, and was starting to translate it into games before a thumb injury put him on the shelf. He's a ways away from the majors, but in a system bereft of potential impact bats, he's the main contender to be that. Reyes might fetch a haul, but would almost assuredly come back to haunt the Orioles if he's dealt.

Right-hander Matthew Grimes


A sneaky-good selection in last year's draft, Grimes, the Orioles' 18th-round pick in 2014, has a live low-90s fastball and good secondaries. An arm injury in college caused him to fall to the Orioles, but including him as a minor piece in a big trade would be good value for a late-round pick like this.

Left-hander Brian Gonzalez

A polished high school left-hander who the Orioles used their first pick (No. 90 overall) on in the 2014 draft, Gonzalez has struggled this year but still has value. He's young, left-handed and knows how to pitch, and that's valuable to any organization. Trading Gonzalez at this stage in his development might not make sense, but he's probably on a few teams' lists if they're calling the Orioles.

Injured players

There would be a lot more in this section were it not for injuries, which have robbed a lot of players of their chance to shine in the South Atlantic League. For Delmarva, catchers Alex Murphy and Jonah Heim have been out since May, while pitchers Zeke McGranahan and Derrick Bleeker have live arms but are out with arm injuries.

At Frederick, the injured list includes arguably the Orioles' top prospect, pitcher Hunter Harvey. Harvey is working his way back from myriad injuries in hopes of playing with an affiliate this season.


Short-season affiliates

The Orioles' short-season affiliates, including Aberdeen, plus teams in the Gulf Coast League and Dominican Summer League, are full of young lottery tickets who I don't have much background with. Plus, 2015 draftees can't be traded until next year, so they wouldn't be included here anyway. There might be some trade fodder that low in the system, but for these purposes, it's silly to distinguish. All of them probably could be something, but are way too far away to tell.