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State of the System: Middle Infield - Grade C+

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Middle Infield

 

Current Roster: Jose Iglesias was a stellar pick up and they will most likely pick up his option for 2021 to retain stability in the middle infield.  Hanser Alberto and Pat Valaika have provided quality innings at 2B and will most likely be back in 2021. If not, and they want to save money, Ramon Urias peaked our interest towards the end of the season and might get a shot.  Perhaps Andrew Velazquez is in the mix again next year. Richie Martin will be healthy next season, but may start in AAA in order to get a full year of development in. It’s not overly impressive, but its depth while we wait for the system to catch up. 

 

Future Outlook: Elias did a solid job of improving the middle infield depth in the minors the past two seasons.  Trading for Terrin Vavra helps.  Drafting Jordan Westburg, Joey Ortiz, Dariel Hernaiz, and Anthony Servedio helps.  2021 will be an important year in evaluating what we have in Adam Hall, Cadyn Grenier, and Mason McCoy.  Ryan Bannon could be an option at 2B. The system looks a lot better in the middle infield than when Elias first took over the team, but at the moment there isn’t a slam dunk prospect in the pipeline. Perhaps SS could be a focus in the upcoming draft.  With an International pipeline now, our middle infield options should get deeper over time.

 

Players of Note: Jose Rondon, Richard Urena, Jean Carmona, Jesmuel Valentin

 

System Grade: C+

 

It’s not nearly as scary as it was when the new front office first took over, but it still needs work.  Adding a real international pipeline is the dark horse here, and it will take years to see a return, but the important part is that it is happening.  Thanks to a couple Duquette hold overs and Elias’ draft efforts, the O’s have solid depth but lack a cream of the crop prospect, and perhaps one can develop out of a Hernaiz or Hall, but Elias will probably find a way to address this through the draft or a trade (it might take until the trade deadline next July for something to materialize). If Iglesias isn’t resigned, it could get hairy at the parent club, and I believe Elias sees the value in bringing Iglesias back to play SS for one more year, or at least for four more months.  A plan is in place here, but we will need to be patient and it will perhaps be the last part of the Rebuild to arrive.

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I was hoping to see what they would do with Erison Placencia this year. Last year at age 17, he had .500 OBP with .900 OPS in the DSL, listed as a SS. But yeah, C+. Iglesias, Alberto vs LHP, and a bunch of second tier prospects, not much else. 

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D.

Iglesias, as good as he was this year, didn't play too much.  And while they'll probably pick up the option for 2021, he's most likely not a long term answer in the years thereafter.  If he kills it next year, I don't see the Orioles spending a bunch of money or even an average amount of money on a shorstop heading into his age 32 season.

Hanser is a fun player and a fan favorite who mashes lefties and can't figure out righties.  Valaika was a small suprise and I know @wildcard is a big fan but the glove was inconsistent.  Velazquez can't hit.  Richie Martin can't hit.  Ramon Urias probably can't hit if his minor league numbers are any indication.  Hanser is probably the best of the bunch and if you're going to use him, he's best used as half of a platoon.

There's depth, I guess, in the minors.  But as I've stated before about these rankings, there's potential...and if you're going to look at the positive potential of these names, you also have to recognize that there's room for them to not pan out and contribute greatly to the franchise at the ML level...or never reach the majors at all.   Vavra, IMO, is the most interesting one.  He hit well in the Cape Cod league, he's been pretty good in the minors, but faced hasn't AA pitching yet and turns 24 in May.  We've got some interesting draft picks this year and I acknowledge it's not their fault that they didn't get any playing time this summer so we don't know what we don't know.

Of the groups graded so far, the middle infield, outside of the starting pitching, IMO, has the chance to increase their grade at this time next year.  We'll have an idea if they'll pony up for Iglesias and be able to see what Vavra, Wesburg, Ortiz, Hernaiz and Servedio can do.

 

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35 minutes ago, Moose Milligan said:

D.

Iglesias, as good as he was this year, didn't play too much.  And while they'll probably pick up the option for 2021, he's most likely not a long term answer in the years thereafter.  If he kills it next year, I don't see the Orioles spending a bunch of money or even an average amount of money on a shorstop heading into his age 32 season.

Hanser is a fun player and a fan favorite who mashes lefties and can't figure out righties.  Valaika was a small suprise and I know @wildcard is a big fan but the glove was inconsistent.  Velazquez can't hit.  Richie Martin can't hit.  Ramon Urias probably can't hit if his minor league numbers are any indication.  Hanser is probably the best of the bunch and if you're going to use him, he's best used as half of a platoon.

There's depth, I guess, in the minors.  But as I've stated before about these rankings, there's potential...and if you're going to look at the positive potential of these names, you also have to recognize that there's room for them to not pan out and contribute greatly to the franchise at the ML level...or never reach the majors at all.   Vavra, IMO, is the most interesting one.  He hit well in the Cape Cod league, he's been pretty good in the minors, but faced hasn't AA pitching yet and turns 24 in May.  We've got some interesting draft picks this year and I acknowledge it's not their fault that they didn't get any playing time this summer so we don't know what we don't know.

Of the groups graded so far, the middle infield, outside of the starting pitching, IMO, has the chance to increase their grade at this time next year.  We'll have an idea if they'll pony up for Iglesias and be able to see what Vavra, Wesburg, Ortiz, Hernaiz and Servedio can do.

 

Valaika's defense was only inconsistent at SS.  He did not have a error anywhere else he played including 2B.   I don't see Elias paying Alberto 3M to play 150 at bats vs lefties as a platoon player.

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3 minutes ago, wildcard said:

Valaika's defense was only inconsistent at SS.  He did not have a error anywhere else he played including 2B.   I don't see Elias paying Alberto 3M to play 150 at bats vs lefties as a platoon player.

We've discussed this, I'm not sure you can automatically call Valaika a better defender at second base.  

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38 minutes ago, Can_of_corn said:

Y'all sleeping on my boy Cadyn.  He's got the draft pedigree.

Will be interesting to see if he’s still in the organization after 2021.    He’s got a lot of competition now.   

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3 minutes ago, Frobby said:

Will be interesting to see if he’s still in the organization after 2021.    He’s got a lot of competition now.   

That was one of only a couple times I can remember being actually upset over a draft pick.

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Valiaka isn’t listed at 2B at  baseball Savant, but his SS numbers are terrible. Alberto’s 2B numbers are terrible, too, though. Probably not difficult to find someone better.

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3 hours ago, Moose Milligan said:

We've discussed this, I'm not sure you can automatically call Valaika a better defender at second base.  

He is equal to or better than Alberto at 2nd defensively and he is a better hitter.  Better power.  791 OPS deserves more opportunity.  And Valaika will be cheaper than Alberto.   Alberto has has two seasons to show he can hit righties and has not.  Time to give someone else a chance.  Valaika is next in line.

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5 hours ago, Can_of_corn said:

That was one of only a couple times I can remember being actually upset over a draft pick.

Same for me. Another SS Xavier Edwards went two picks later and is a top 100 prospect in all of baseball now.  Pretty sure the O's were the only ones that had Grenier over Edwards on their board. 

Wade Townsend and Mike Fontenot were pretty aggravating first round selections, but those were years ago. 

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7 hours ago, ChuckS said:

Wade Townsend and Mike Fontenot were pretty aggravating first round selections, but those were years ago. 

Fontenot had a 7 year career in which he put up 4.3 WAR, 16th best among all no. 19 picks.   He had the 11th highest WAR of any player chosen in the first round that year.   He was a much better pick than our top pick that year, Chris Smith, who was chosen no. 7 overall and never played above Delmarva.   So I’m not flipping cartwheels over Fontenot, but the O’s could have done a lot worse with that pick.  

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There is nothing on the ML roster even worth mentioning here.  
 

You have Gunnar (at least for now), Servideo, Westburg, Vavra, Hall and Bannon.

Thats not a bad group but we know nothing to very little for most of them.  
 

The guys we have traded for or signed that are intl players, we know less than nothing about (except what they signed for).  Not sure we can even mention them yet.

I would give this grade an F in the majors and an incomplete in the minors.  We just don’t know anything about anyone of potential significance yet.

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8 hours ago, Frobby said:

Fontenot had a 7 year career in which he put up 4.3 WAR, 16th best among all no. 19 picks.   He had the 11th highest WAR of any player chosen in the first round that year.   He was a much better pick than our top pick that year, Chris Smith, who was chosen no. 7 overall and never played above Delmarva.   So I’m not flipping cartwheels over Fontenot, but the O’s could have done a lot worse with that pick.  

Problem with Fontenot was the upside.  Small stature and lacking in speed or power. He maxed out his upside as a replacement level 2B and didn't really break the Majors until age 27. 

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Have to love an analysis that says Elias should "address this through the draft" when he just spent the 30th overall pick in the 2020 draft on an SEC shortstop.  There is much more minor league talent in the system at SS/2B than in the OF - frankly, IMO, it's not close.

We do not have major league long term solutions at these positions and that is where the middle infield should be down-graded, but we have plenty of good drafted talent there in the minors.

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