The surprising Orioles have a lot to be excited about in top-tier talents pitcher Dylan Bundy -- who's the No. 2-ranked prospect in MLB -- and infielder Manny Machado, who's No. 3. And with executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette making it clear there will be added emphasis on overhauling the scouting and development process, Baltimore's goal is to establish a pipeline that ensures 2012's success is more than a one-year surge.
Manny Machado is already in the big leagues and the 20-year-old is making his presence felt. Machado, who moved to third base with shortstop J.J. Hardy firmly entrenched in the infield, made his Major League debut last month and was named the American League Co-Player of the Week in his first week in the bigs.
Machado also became the first player since 1918 to hit three homers in his first four career games and has provided a significant upgrade defensively despite playing out of his natural position.
Xavier Avery also got the call this season, joining the Orioles as a September callup for his fourth separate stint in the Majors. The speedy outfielder is ranked as the organization's sixth-best prospect.
Catcher Gabriel Lino, ranked as the Orioles' 11th-best prospect to start the season, was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in a deal that brought the O's veteran bat Jim Thome. Dan Klein also dropped off the list as the right-hander continues to deal with right shoulder issues and has had three procedures over the last few years.
Infielder Ryan Adams (12) was also slowed with injury, and the 25-year-old played in just 65 games for Triple-A Norfolk. Adams hit .224 with four homers and 20 RBIs, and his defense remains an issue in the organization. Left-hander Cole McCurry (20) was acquired by the Atlanta Braves for cash considerations in June.
The top pick in this year's First-Year Player Draft, Kevin Gausman, heads the crop of new prospects on the O's radar. And Gausman -- who was promoted to Double-A to pitch in the playoffs -- has had a fine year in his first professional season. A right-handed pitcher, drafted fourth overall out of Louisiana State University, Gausman could fly through the system as a polished arm.
Tim Berry, the O's 50th-round pick in the 2009 Draft, put himself on the map with a solid season spent mostly with Class A Delmarva and High-A Frederick. Berry needed Tommy John surgery shortly after signing, but showed signs this year of heading back to form before he got hurt in high school. Berry went 5-5 with a 4.32 ERA in 15 games for Frederick and recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts in Aug. 16's start.
Maryland native Branden Kline jumped up 10 spots to put him 11th on the list as the University of Virginia product made four starts for short-season Aberdeen, posting a 4.50 ERA over 12 1/3 innings. Michael Belfiore is another newcomer to the list and was acquired from Arizona earlier this season to complete the Josh Bell trade. A left-handed pitcher, Belfiore was a first-round sandwich selection (45th overall) in the 2009 First Year Player Draft and has gone 5-1 with a 2.85 ERA in 28 appearances for Double-A Bowie.
orioles' top prospects
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Gausman catapulted on the list -- shooting up to No. 3 -- with infielders Jonathan Schoop and Nick Delmonico, dropping a spot to fourth and fifth, respectively. Outfielder L.J. Hoes had an impressive season for Triple-A Norfolk, and was nearly a September callup, and remains ranked at 13th although his standing in the organization has certainly improved.
Bobby Bundy, older brother of Dylan, fell 11 spots to No. 20 with his season ending in July due to bone spurs in his right elbow.
Top 100 representation
Bundy and Machado are quite the enviable pair to rival organizations and Gausman joined the duo this season on baseball's top 100 prospects list. The three youngsters helped Baltimore's system improve to rank eighth in baseball overall. Bundy and Machado are considered the second- and third-best prospects in baseball, behind only recent Rangers callup Jurickson Profar. With the graduation of Matt Moore, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper to consistent big-league roles, Bundy and Machado leapfrogged several spots to keep the Orioles optimistic about their future.