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Taking a look at the Orioles' Baseball America top prospects list

When Baseball America's list of the Orioles top 10 prospects was released Monday, there was some backlash from fans about how right-hander Dylan Bundy could still be the organization's top prospect. Bundy sits atop the list for a fourth straight year following a season in which he pitched in just nine games after returning from Tommy John surgery.

Because of his quick ascension to the major leagues in 2012 -- when he made his Orioles debut as a September call-up -- some might forget that Bundy still doesn't turn 22 until next month.

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And once Bundy returned from his elbow surgery this summer, the organization emphasized that they didn't expect him to return to full strength until 2014.

While Bundy's numbers this season were pedestrian -- 1-3 with a 3.27 ERA in nine starts, including a 4.78 ERA in six starts at High-A Frederick -- it's more important what he does in a couple months in spring training.

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Two players on last year's top prospect list, right-hander Kevin Gausman and second baseman Jonathan Schoop, were contributors on a division title-winning team. Gausman began to come into his own as a starter and, despite some struggles at the plate, Schoop played excellent defense at second base and hit 16 home runs in his rookie season.

Also keep in mind that Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph wasn't on any top prospect list, but filled in well when Matt Wieters went down with a season-ending injury.

Beyond right-hander Hunter Harvey -- the Orioles' first-round pick in 2013 -- the rest of the Orioles' top prospect list doesn't blow you away, but it does show that the farm system is in good hands in terms of player development.

First baseman Christian Walker (No. 3), outfielder Dariel Alvarez (No. 5), right-hander Zach Davies (No. 6), outfielder Mike Yastrzemski (No. 9) and third baseman Jomar Reyes (No. 10) weren't on last year's list, and while they aren't household names, they all made significant strides.

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Walker, the highest riser on the list, is a perfect example. His 26 homers last season at Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk bested the organization's power projections, but more importantly, he made vast improvements defensively to surge up the list. He received a September call-up this season and reviews were mixed, but the 23-year-old has yet to play a full season at Triple-A.

Catcher Chance Sisco (No. 4) might be the most intriguing of the bunch. Orioles manager Buck Showalter has made it clear that he's a fan, plucking Cisco's name from the minor league reports often as he chased a South Atlantic League batting title with Low-A Delmarva. The Orioles' second-round pick in 2013 showed he can hit, batting .340/.406/.448. Next is refining his catching skills as he moves up the ranks. He could be a fast riser in the Orioles' system.

I'm most intrigued by this list because this is an important year for most players on it. With the exception of Harvey, Sisco and Reyes, they've all reached the Double-A level, which is a proving ground for major league talent. The Orioles haven't been shy in bringing players up from Bowie, as they did with Manny Machado in 2012. So this group isn't as far from the majors as it might seem.

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